Doctoral studies

Environmental Studies is a research area for doctoral studies that awards Ph. D. degrees in the interdisciplinary area of Environmental Sciences.

There are currently 14 doctoral students at the Research School of Environmental Studies at Södertörn University. The doctoral student enrolled in the doctoral studies programme in Environmental Studies is employed at the School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies. The research environment integrates different disciplines and research topics creating opportunities for the sharing of experiences and expertise. Our graduate courses and higher seminars are important arenas for in depth research discussions.

For information about doctoral studies, please contact:

Inger Porsch-Hällström Chair of the Research School of Environmental Studies and professor at the School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies. E-mail: inger.porsch_hallstrom@sh.se, Phone: +46 8 608 47 02

Maria Bergman Head of the Department Environmental Science at the School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies. E-mail: maria.bergman@sh.se, Phone: +46 8 608 47 06

Karin Lindholm Academic Secretary of Environmental Studies at the School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies. E-mail: karin.lindholm@sh.se, Phone + 46 8 608 47 68

Admission regulations and syllabus

For more details about general and special entry requirements, as well as selection criteria, please read the admission regulations further down on this page before submitting your application.

Further information

The doctoral student enrolled in the doctoral studies programme in Environmental Studies is employed at the School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies.

The Graduate School of Environmental Studies interacts with the Baltic and Eastern European Graduate School, BEEGS which is part of the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies, CBEES at Södertörn University.

Within the Environmental Studies research area, the following doctoral courses are offered:

Research Design and Methodology in Environmental Studies, 7.5 credits

Link to syllabusexternal link

Thesis Essay in Environmental Science, 7,5 credits

Link to syllabusexternal link

For more information about the content of these courses, please contact Sara Sjöling.

For information about how to apply, please contact Karin Hellström.

Environmental Governance - Research focus suggestions

Governance of urban and peri-urban woods

Governance of urban and peri-urban woods in relation to ecosystem services, biodiversity, recreation and health using a comparison between some urban centers in the Baltic region. How analysis of spatial data of forest uses and can help inform decisions and governance structures of forest management in relation to conflicting goals from economic and environmental factors. Different models of multiple use of forests may shift in relation to proximity to urban centers and have consequence for adaptive management and governance outcomes.

Denial and Delay in Environmental and Climate Science-Policy Interactions

In spite of solid climate science and strong support for mitigating measures being economically beneficial, denial of global warming in research and policy is still common. The same phenomenon is apparent, but less studied, for other environmental issue, such as emissions of hazardous chemicals, which therefore deserves research attention. Moreover, it is also important to explore to what extent the occurrence of denial and impacts of delay in environmental governance vary within the Baltic Sea region, and how strategies to counteract denial and delay can be developed.

Planning for sustainable peri-urban areas

In Sweden, municipalities have the main responsibility for physical planning at the local level. Public and stakeholder participation has been increasingly acknowledged as important in natural resource management. An important distinction concerning participation processes is who are recognized as stakeholders and to what extent they are requested to participate. There are several conceptual models that define participation at various levels of integration, ranging from passive access to information, towards higher levels of integration, such as consultation and collaborative planning, to local self-control. Horse keeping issues usually involves several sectors that needs to collaborate for achieving a sustainable horse keeping. Hence, increased knowledge and understanding of the role of horse keeping in peri-urban areas is needed. We have in earlier research in collaboration with Stockholm County shown that the engagement of horse farmers in nutrient mitigation proved to be more difficult than traditional farmers. Therefore, in an ongoing research project plans are to analyze possible factors that may increase the likelihood of active participation in environmental management.

Sustainable Marine Environmental Governance: How to Strengthen the Social Dimension of the Ecosystem Approach?

The key challenge facing coastal and marine governance is how to achieve opportunities of a more sustainable use of marine resources and territory without realising threats of transcending environmental thresholds. It is widely viewed that this is best achieved through the Ecosystem(-based) Approach (EA). However, there are a number of outstanding questions that suggest that more attention needs to be paid to social aspects of EA. These include: ambiguity about how EA should be operationalised, how to include socio-cultural values, how to support trade-offs between environmental and social goals, how to deal with uneven power relations and how to include non-scientific knowledge.

A Bioeconomy Transition in the Baltic Sea Region

There is widespread scientific and political support that a transition to a bioeconomy will be a key contribution towards building a sustainable future in EU, the Baltic Sea region and globally. Such a transition promises to address the concerns of climate change, while maintaining economic growth – coined ‘smart green growth’. Despite this support, there is significant uncertainty about what this realignment means in practice in various countries in the Baltic Sea region, including outstanding questions and contentions around: disruptions (trade-offs) required for its implementation, the supporting institutional arrangements required and knowledge claims related to its technical feasibility.

The Precautionary Principle in Environmental Governance

The precautionary principle (PP) is a key principle in EU environmental policy. At the same time, its implementation in various sectors is diverse and it seen as controversial by some stakeholders. Hence, exploring if and how it is applied is important in order to assess challenges and opportunities for environmental goal achievement in the Baltic Sea region. On that basis governance approaches can be elaborated that, given uncertainty, ambiguity and context dependence can include risk management strategies that are balanced, credible, legitimate and sustainable.

Ecosystem services related to horse keeping in transforming peri-urban landscapes

The ecosystem services framework encompasses the full array of services that ecosystems contribute to human well-being and is therefore helpful for understanding and analyzing multifunctional systems such as peri-urban landscapes. The increasing demand for an ecosystem perspective in spatial planning and management also highlights a need for identifying interactions and conflicts between different land uses affecting ecosystem services in peri-urban landscapes. Ongoing research studies how the transformation from food producing farming businesses to recreation activities in particular horse keeping affect the probability for the peri-urban community to maintain biodiversity and provide ecosystem services, like pest management, water quality, human well-being. Ongoing research also addresses the relationship between landscape transformation, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Participatory processes, partnerships and biodiversity governance

A suggestion of research focus includes participatory processes, partnerships and biodiversity governance: current issues and opportunities with Natura 2000 sites across Central Eastern Europe. Conflicts over Natura 2000 sites: topics, issues and use of scientific knowledge during impact assessment disputes.

Environment and Development- Research focus suggestions

Environmental Justice

A suggestion of research focus is Environmental Justice: barriers and bridges for accessing urban green spaces by different groups of residents across selected cities in Northern and Central Eastern Europe. Moreover, from the perspectives of, among others, political ecology and environmental sociology, research is carried out on environmental justice and injustices, for instance, regarding the ethnic-cultural and territorial rights of native/indigenous peoples.

Sustainable food systems

Södertörn University has been asked to be a main academic partner to the EU-funded sustainable food system program “Matlust” in Södertälje municipality. In this cooperation we have identified some possible research areas within the Baltic and Eastern Europe Region:
- Building knowledge nodes for sustainable food systems through research in collaboration with local industry, public administration and environmental organisations
- Competitiveness and effects on local and regional value chains of clustering and public procurement
- Comparative research on regional governance of sustainable food systems – from global strategy to local implementation

Responsible research and innovation for Unesco MAB biosphere areas, within the Baltic and Eastern Europe Region.

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals are advocating an integrated approach to the Global Challenges, linking Ecology, Economy and Society together to reach the goals and targets for sustainability. The Unesco MAB biosphere areas are supposed to act as experimental sites for sustainable development. In the latest strategy for the Man and Biosphere, MAB, program there is a call for improvement on some common issues, all of them calling for research to underpin possible actions:
- Biosphere reserves should formulate a research strategy
- Good examples of governance of biosphere areas need to be analysed, documented and disseminated
- Cooperation with the private and entrepreneurial sector needs to be improved.
- There are tendencies to perceive the biosphere areas as just another site for conservation of nature, thus downplaying the opportunities for sustainability experiments.

Environmental Change and Ecological Processes- Research focus suggestions

Ecological impacts of landscape change

A suggestion of research focus is to study ecological implications of land abandonment and habitat closure on biodiversity. Landscape change is one of the major factors affecting biodiversity och ecological processes. Ecological impacts of landscape change will also be affected by climate change. Many research questions in landscape change can be studied with powerful sampling designs of sites in different phases of succession. Rural socioeconomic changes have resulted in extensive habitat closure in many parts of Europe. For instance, large areas of agricultural land have been abandoned in East Europe after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Effects of this process have not received much attention in ecological literature.

Benthic community ecosystem functions and environmental change- eutrophication and pollution

Society and ecological health depend on ecological processes and functions. One suggestion of research focus is to study how benthic community processes, particularly by microorganisms and meiofauna, respond to environmental change and human activity pressure, since this is a key question toward understanding Baltic Sea ecosystem functioning. Through multidisciplinary approaches, that combine field studies with experimental work and the application of microbial, ecological, biogeochemical and large scale sequencing analyses, this question is also addressed within an ongoing research project. Particularly, community functional genomic and physiological response and adaptation to eutrophication, oxygen depletion and/or pollution are important focus areas. Outcomes directly relate to the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Baltic Sea Action Plan.

Paleoecological research

A suggestion of research focus is paleoecology using stratigraphical investigation on marine (Baltic Sea) and lake sediment cores. The main methods used are diatom and pollen stratigraphy together with lithological and geochemical analyses to infer and date past nutrient conditions (using transfer functions), changes in salinity, climate and land-use, shore displacement and human impact.
Currently we are working in the Baltic Sea coastal areas (project UPPBASER and SEASIDE) to investigate to what extent and when humans have affected the ecosystem and how humans living in the coastal Baltic Sea areas during the last 6000 years have altered the landscape, impacted the marine ecosystem and adapted to natural environmental changes (e.g. shifting shorelines and climate changes). Further, ongoing research studies how the Baltic Basin have evolved during the last glacial cycle using sediment cores collected during the IODP Expedition 347 Baltic Sea Paleoenvironment.

Ecosystem services related to horse keeping in transforming peri-urban landscapes

The ecosystem services framework encompasses the full array of services that ecosystems contribute to human well-being and is therefore helpful for understanding and analyzing multifunctional systems such as peri-urban landscapes. The increasing demand for an ecosystem perspective in spatial planning and management also highlights a need for identifying interactions and conflicts between different land uses affecting ecosystem services in peri-urban landscapes. One suggestion of research focus could be connected to ongoing studies on how the transformation from food producing farming businesses to recreation activities in particular horse keeping affect the probability for the peri-urban community to maintain biodiversity and provide ecosystem services, like pest management, water quality, human well-being. Ongoing research addresses the relationship between landscape transformation, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Population genomics and ecology

A suggestion of research focus is to combine population genomics and ecology to study how rapid adaptation to environmental change caused by anthropogenic factors in animals in the Baltic Sea. The research links processes from cell biology and genetics to population dynamics and ecosystem function.

Files available for download
File type icon Filename File size File upload date
Admission regulations.pdf 179.6 kB 2019-02-26 14.22
General syllabus Environmental Science.pdf 330.4 kB 2019-02-26 14.22