CEFO PhD Courses


Natural Resource Use – An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Challenges of Transformation towards Sustainability

23-27 November 2015, Uppsala
Organised by CEFO/Natural Resources and Sustainable Development program (NHRU), CSD, Uppsala University
Subject: Natural resources
Credits: 7.5

How can perspectives from natural and social sciences be combined for a holistic understanding of present production patterns and sustainability?
In our globalized world, vast amounts of natural resources are extracted in order to get society and economy spinning. As conflicts over such resources intensify both globally and nationally, it becomes ever more urgent to understand the biophysical and social consequences of resource extraction, including the mutual interaction of those consequences.

Through lectures, creative seminars and case studies, the course critically examines themes such as energy production, mining and agriculture. It highlights the interdependency between these sectors, as well as the interconnections between global and local socio-economic and environmental processes.


Green economies: Making the shift toward sustainability

10-14 November 2014, Uppsala.
Subject: Green economy. Credits: 7.5


The course examines ways of advancing a sustainable or green economy. From sustainable consumption and new business models to utopian micropractices and reform ideas of the global financial architecture, the course explores forward-looking and practical proposals and practices, centering on two basic questions: What would a truly sustainable economy look like? How can it be achieved?

Course description
Course package


Ecophilosophy to change the world? Ecophilosophies and sustainability

11-18 May 2014, Gdansk, Poland
Organised by CEFO/Baltic University/Global Environmental History
Subject: Eco-philosophy.
Credits: 7.5

The course explores philosophical ideas underlying the ways in which we have, and could in the future, confront environmental challenges. The students examine the ontological and epistemological assumptions that influence perceptions and praxis of environmental and sustainability issues. The course is held in the marine research centre near Gdansk, Poland, where the students will be able to analyse ecophilosophical perspectives in general and in connection to their own research with a particular focus concerning the ocean and the Baltic Sea. At the end of the course, the students will critically reflect on the course material in relation to their own research.


Methodological Approaches to Interdisciplinary Research
27-31 May 2013, Uppsala
Subject: Research Methodology
Credits: 7.5

  • How does academia address the scientific and practical questions of sustainability?
  • What is the nature of science at the age of antropocene?
  • What are the ways to integrate multiple perspectives and insights without losing the depth and quality of scientific research?

The course explores the nature of interdisciplinary research, its strategies, outcomes and implications, and to give students an opportunity to reflect on application of interdisciplinarity in their projects or fields of study.

Course information


SolEn for a Sustainable Future

23 April – 11 May 2012
Organised by CEFO/Department of Chemistry, Uppsala University
Subject: Sustainable energy
Credits: 5

The course centers Solar Energy as one solution to our energy question and approaches this broad field from a scientific, industrial and political angles. Scientific experts from Uppsala University and SLU, together with representatives from the local solar industry and political experts from European governmental institutions such as the Swedish Energy Agency and the International Energy Agency will provide an overview about current research and social-economic perspectives on solar energy, as well as political concepts.


Critical Studies in the Development of Capitalism

5 October-15 November, Uppsala
Subject: Analysis, conceptualization and interpretation of Capitalism
Credits: 7.5

The course is expected to provide students critical, theoretical and practical understandings of key concepts and issues regarding the analysis of capitalism from a critical point of view. Furthermore, such a conceptual background is expected to be used in order to bridge disciplinary differences and to create a common base/ language that facilitate interdisciplinary research through interaction, shared learning, and problem discussion. By acquiring knowledge about different concepts and theories used in the critical approach to capitalism students are expected to discuss current crises in the world and to be able to get own positions regarding the usefulness and relevance of critical approaches to capitalism.


Human-Animal Studies: Representations and Practices

6-10 December 2010, Uppsala
Subject: Human-animal studies
Credits: 7.5

The course aims to introduce the growing interdisciplinary field of Human-Animal Studies – for short, Animal Studies – that explores human-animal relations in society, science, theory and culture. The course emphasis is on representations, understandings and practices. How are animals represented in visual culture, science and media, and what implications do these representations have for our understanding of and relation to other animals, ourselves and to the world? One overarching theme is the problematization of the traditional nature/culture dualism – and the corresponding animal/human – that has dominated, and still dominates western thought. Discourses on environment and sustainable development and discourses on animals have traditionally been relatively separated in academic disciplines and politics, and the course also aims to reflect on the connections between these discourses. The lecturers represent a diversity of disciplines – sociology, geography, evolutionary biology, educational science, ethics, philosophy – and the course aims at encouraging discussion and communication between students and teachers from different disciplines.


Action Research Action Learning- Social Learning in Nature-Society Relations

Subject: Action research methodologies, climate change
Credits: 4

ARALIG is a Nordic network of PhD researchers, academics and others with an interested in Action Research in the context of Social Learning in Nature-Society Relations. The purpose of the course is to discuss the dimensions of the local-global relationships in issues of nature-society relationships – and how action research practices can work to improve these and collaborate in achieving sustainability objectives. How to cope with conflicting interests? How to deal with situations where certain actors do not want to change practices, and are unwilling to co-operate in a research project aimed at social change? How do you position yourself as a researcher? When does research and scholarly activism become an emancipatory activity? How to extend action research to policy suggestions? Through lectures and paper discussions the participants are challenged to discuss, reflect and formulate research practices that are equipped to deal with complex local-global challenges of nature-society relationships.


Representing Animals, Nature and Environment in Visual Culture

28 September-2 October 2009, Uppsala
Subject: Human-animal studies
Credits: 7.5

Images both shape and mirror our relation to the world. The aim of this course is to analyze representations of “nature” in visual media and their possible implications for sustainable development. What kind of categorisation, inclusion and exclusion do images do? How are the connections between people and other species represented? What does it mean to have our relationships to animals mediated by representations? In recent theory representations often have been criticised for conveying “the white man’s gaze”, i.e that it always has been the western man who has defined and framed “them” – the Other. Is this critique still relevant? Can the concept of stereotyping also be applied to species and entities other than human, and if so, what are the implications regarding human-animal relations and sustainability? The course draws on the fields of Animal Studies, Visual Culture and Environmental Studies.

The theoretical point of departure is that we all, also scientists, understand, interpret and
analyse the world trough values, concepts, categories and metaphors that change culturally and historically. The nature/culture-dualism as well as related dualisms such as animal/human, nature/society and ecology/economy will be discussed, drawing on the fields of animal studies, visual culture and environmental studies.


Climate Change; Science, Power and Politics

29 September-20 October 2008, Uppsala
Subject: Climate change
Credits: 10

Current research on climate change indicates that the social transformations required to face the coming challenges need to include approaches to science, power structures and political formations. The purpose of the course Climate Change; Science, Power and Politics is to give research students a possibility to gain a comprehensive overview to current interdisciplinary approaches to climate change. An additional aim is to assemble researchers and doctoral stu-dents from various areas and create an international network of researchers interested in the socio-ecological dimensions of climate change. The course is open for doctoral students at the faculty, from other faculties and from other universities. A joint course on climate change provides a good opportunity for the faculty to establish an interdisciplinary teaching/research profile towards issues of climate change and as far as we are aware this is the first time a doc-toral course on climate change will be given at the faculty.


An enquiry into environmental research and analysis

Spring 2008, Uppsala
Subject: Environmental research
Credits: 3.5

The purpose of the course is to strengthen student’s familiarity with reading and understanding major theories and debates that inspire and inform environmental research and analysis. The course is based on the reading of major works –classics as well as more recent contributions– that shape environmental research and analysis. Emphasis will be given to works addressing issues of inter-disciplinarity and sustainability. The course is based on the close-reading of prominent interdisciplinary studies on the socio-environmental interface. The discussion seminars will focus on assessing the analytical/explanatory capacity of the studies and their contribution to ongoing discussion and debate. The paper will be assessed by using SOLO-taxonomy (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome), where the level of an extended abstract response to interdisciplinary research on the socio-environmental interface will be anticipated.


Research Methodologies and Interdisciplinarity

Autumn 2007, Uppsala
Subject: Research methodologies
Credits: 7.5

Today’s globalised societies put scientists in front of complex social and environmental problems that require to be addressed in an interdisciplinary way. What are the methods we use when we do social and natural science, and what is the philosophy behind them. What is the nature of quantitative and qualitative methodology, of natural and social sciences? What does it mean to work in an interdisciplinary way? What are the interdisciplinary methods? What are the advantages and disadvantages of interdisciplinary research?

The course Research Methodologies and Interdisciplinary seeks to expose students coming from natural, social sciences and the humanities to a common conceptual background in order to bridge disciplinary differences; to create a common base and language that facilitate interdisciplinary research through interaction, shared learning, and problem discussion; to make course participants aware of the historical background of the modern conception of science and its basic philosophical premises as well as the difference between natural sciences and social sciences; to acquire knowledge about different quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches; to expose students to a selection of methods which are used to assess resource use, environmental impact and ecological sustainability from a natural sciences point of view and to get insight into interdisciplinary thinking, theory and practice.


Political Ecology – A Critical Introduction

Spring 2007, Uppsala
Subject: Political ecology
Credits: 7.5

The course, Political Ecology: a Critical Introduction, presents a critical survey of the burgeoning field of political ecology, an interdisciplinary area of research which connects politics and economy to problems of environmental control and ecological change. Further, the course review the historical development of the field, explain what is distinctive about political ecology and considers the major challenges facing the field now and for the future.

The aim of the course is to introduce students to environmental change in the Third World (or South) with a view to assessing the prospects for success of sustainable development strategies, along with an evaluation of the causal forces and socio-economic and political ramifications of such changes. At the completion of the course students should be able to appreciate the intertwined nature of ecological and political processes in the South and in the North and identify and assess the varied political and economic factors contributing to such changes, and the prospects for success of current sustainable development initiatives. Further, the course will give the students views on the applicability, relevance and explanatory view of different perspectives on political ecology in policy and academic research.


Ekokritik – att läsa för en hållbar värld

Spring 2007, Uppsala
Subject: Ecocriticism
Credits: 7.5

Litteraturen speglar vår syn på natur och kultur och skapar den samtidigt. Ekokritiken är ett nytt och internationellt växande forskningsfält som söker se samband mellan representationen av natur och kultur i olika typer av text (t.ex. poesi, prosa, film) och dagens miljö- och utvecklingsproblematik.
Relationen mellan text, natur och kultur är ett centralt tema inom det ekokritiska fältet och diskuteras under kursens gång mot bakgrunden av den pågående miljöpolitiska diskussionen. Dikotomin av de förmenta motpolerna natur och kultur som har präglat mycket av det västerländska tänkandet och människans relation till naturen utmanas och ifrågasätts utifrån dess gestaltning i olika typer av texterr (t.ex. skönlitteratur, poesi, film. Centrala frågor som problematiseras och diskuteras utifrån kursens litteratur är: Hur representeras och konceptualiseras relationen mellan natur, kultur och text? Hur gestaltas relationen mellan människan och hennes fysiska miljö? Vilka olika argument, ståndpunkter och definitioner av natur och kultur finns representerade inom det ekokritiska fältet? På vilket sätt kan ekokritisk läsning av olika typer av texter bidra till ökad förståelse av och kunskap om dagens globala miljö- och utvecklingsproblematik? Vilken funktion fyller ekokritiken för diskussionen om hållbar samhällsutveckling idag och för framtida generationer?



Autumn 2006, Uppsala
Subject: Development theory
Credits: 7.5

Det tidiga biståndets vision om global industrialisering och samhällsutveckling efter västerländskt mönster har inte förverkligats. Men utvecklingstänkandet är fortfarande centralt inom ekonomi och politik och utgör grunden för biståndsverksamhet och strategier för hållbar utveckling världen över.

Kursen vänder sig till doktorander med intresse för utvecklingsteorier från alla fakulteter och börjar med en genomgång av utvecklingsteoriernas historia med fokus på 1900-talet. Förutom samhällsvetenskapliga teorier behandlas i viss mån även naturvetenskapligt utvecklingstänkande. Historiska och samtida teoriers relevans, tillämpbarhet och förklaringsvärde i förhållande till konkreta utvecklingsproblem och hållbar utveckling studeras, såväl som diskursiva aspekter som maktutövning och legitimeringsfunktioner.


Autumn 05- Spring 06 Genus, miljö och utveckling

Autumn 05 Africa and the World, SchemaKursbeskrivning

Autumn 05 Ekokritik: naturen i litteraturen

Autumn 04 Tvärvetenskapens problem och metoder

Autumn 04 Religion och ekologi

Spring 04 African environmental and development history

Spring 04 Changes in Climate and Society

Autumn 03 Ekokritik: studier i miljö- och utvecklingslitteratur

Autumn 03 Sustainable Development and the Significance of Place

Autumn 03 Naturvetenskapliga världsbilder

Spring 03: Miljö- och utvecklingsstudier. Analys och teori.

Spring 03: Miljöklassiker – studier i miljö- och utvecklingslitteratur

Autumn 02: Miljöhistoria: Narration, teori och metod med inriktning på människan och landskapet