PINS9520 Society and Sustainability Emneplan

Engelsk emnenavn
Society and Sustainability
PhD Programme in Innovation for Sustainability
5 stp.


The course will address sustainability from a societal perspective. Societal institutions, technical infrastructures, and culture constitute frames within which practices evolve. The course will provide the candidates with perspectives for critically analysing the role these societal frames have in inhibiting and enabling a transition towards sustainability, and for engaging in constructive discussions of how sustainable practices can be facilitated at a societal level. Cases will be used to stimulate interdisciplinary investigation of these issues. The syllabus may be abbreviated and adapted to fit the interest of the participants of the course in cooperation with the supervisors.


The course will address the following, non-exclusive list of themes:

    • Predominant economic systems and alternatives, including circular economy
    • Human-centric world views and alternatives, including more-than-human perspectives
    • The cultural and political properties of technological systems and their role in societal exclusion and inclusion
    • The interplay between algorithms and social practices

Anbefalte forkunnskaper

Completed Master’s degree (120 ECTS credits) or equivalent education level.


Completed Master’s degree (120 ECTS credits) or equivalent education level.


Upon completing the course, the candidates are expected to have gained the following learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, and general competence).



The candidate:

  • is in the forefront of knowledge for analysing how societal institutions, forms or organization, and infrastructures influence practices
  • can contribute to the development of new methods in their own profession in the development of social structures



The candidate:

  • can formulate problems, plan and carry out research about institutions, infrastructures and forms of organizations seen from the perspectives of specific professions
  • can engage in discussions of how sustainable practices can be facilitated at an institutional, organizational and infrastructural level
  • can challenge established knowledge in the field and identify critical success factors for sustainable transformation


General competence

The candidate.

  • has an advanced understanding of own profession in societal structures and interdisciplinary relationships between micro, meso and macro levels in society
  • can contribute to governance recommendations for white papers and policy briefs
  • can assess the need for, initiate and practice innovation

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

Lectures, workshops, seminars.

Arbeidskrav og obligatoriske aktiviteter

Active participation in the seminars is necessary to adequately understand the course material and themes. Participation is therefore mandatory, and candidates are expected to attend all days of teaching and required to attend at least 80 percent of teaching days. In special cases of documented illness, the course leader may accept exceptions to this requirement. In these cases, lack of participation can be substituted with alternative arrangements such as active reading of the relevant syllabus literature. Course requirements are assessed as confirmed or not confirmed. The course requirement must be completed and confirmed within the given deadline in order to have the right to submit a final essay.

The course requirements are:

  • A plenary presentation on a subject decided in collaboration with the course lecturer.
  • A prepared opposition to at least one other presentation.
  • 80 % attendance is required. 

Vurdering og eksamen

Confirmed participation in the course and accepted final essay.

  • Individual essay (4000-5000 words). The essay will discuss the most important theoretical aspects from the syllabus, with relevance for the candidate’s PhD project. Cover page, illustrations, and list of references come in addition.

Hjelpemidler ved eksamen

All examination support material is allowed as long as source reference and quotation technique requirements are applied.


Assessment is pass/ fail. If an essay is graded fail, the candidate has one opportunity to resubmit a revised essay within a given time-period.


The final essay is assessed by the course lecturer and one other examinator. External examinators will be used regularly. The assessment of the essay is based on the learning outcomes for the course.


The course is primarily for PhD candidates. Unfilled places may be opened to applicants with a relevant Master’s degree or equivalent. Applicants must submit a summary (approximately one A4- sized page) containing information on their PhD project. The summary must be submitted before the deadline for Applications.