Our research themes

Research within Environmental Studies at Södertörn University focuses on three integrated themes.

Environmental change and Ecological Processes

Research within the theme Environmental Change and Ecological Processes focuses on how ecological, biological and geological patterns and processes relate to ecosystem function, biodiversity and environmental change. Examining and understanding the interactions between environmental change and ecosystem functioning, and ecological and social processes, is important for the understanding of the effect of human activity and interventions on human health and sustainable use of ecosystem services. Research within the theme is interdisciplinary, with the core within different disciplines of Natural Sciences but studies also include Social Sciences. We have considerable expertise within biological disciplines, such as ecology, microbiology, molecular ecology and geosciences. At present, research within this theme includes plant, zoo-, paleo- and microbial ecology, ecotoxicology, biodiversity, biogeochemistry, environmental change e.g. eutrophication, pollution and climate, ecosystem sensitivity and response, land and water use in relation to effects on ecosystems and key relationships between the environment and health.

Environment and Development

Within the theme Environment and Development the research focuses on the prerequisites for sustainable ecological, social and economic development, with an emphasis on relations between natural resource use and political change. Another key research area concerns synergisms and antagonisms among various aspects of sustainable development. For example, if a high priority is given to ecological sustainability in public planning, this may result in negative social and economic outcomes for marginalised social groups. Sustainability is thus analysed with consideration for aspects related to socioeconomic distribution, power and gender. A key point is the critical examination of trends in development theory and praxis. Research questions may be issues such as how "development" is defined and by whom, the consequences of unequal development and the roles assumed by government, private and public stakeholders.

Environmental Governance

Research within the theme Environmental Governance focuses on how various processes, structures and stakeholders in public and private sectors as well as within civil society influence how the environment and issues related to the use of natural resources are described, defined, communicated, managed and distributed. The often complex, uncertain, transboundary and changing character of natural resource use implies significant political, environmental and scientific challenges. Present forms of governance and organization are often not adequately adapted to ecosystem dynamics or to the cross-border multi-dimensional characteristics of environmental problems. Various modes of multi-level governance are evolving at the same time as countries' autonomy is challenged in different ways, not the least when it comes to managing environmental problems. New forms of governance and management mean that various forms of knowledge (scientific, local and other forms) are brought closer together. Moreover, additional weight is given to interaction, communication and collaboration between stakeholders at local, regional and international levels. Also of critical importance is how environmental governance arrangements engage in struggles over differently envisaged sustainability futures.