Our research themes and focus areas

Our research focuses on the Baltic Sea region, as well as regions in the Global South.

Our research is conducted within two research themes, divided into different focus areas. The two areas are:


The environment is constantly changing. Natural processes and human activities have an impact on ecosystems, with consequences that span from local to global scales. Exploitation of resources and rapid economic growth are drivers of climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and reduced ecosystem resilience.

To address these complex challenges, the Environment theme connects natural processes and human activities, investigating how these factors influence climate, environment and ecosystems in time and space. Our research addresses a broad range of topics related to the history and functions of our changing environment, as well as the effects of human activities, with relevance to management, conservation and policy decisions that aim to promote a sustainable future.

Research within the theme is conducted globally, focusing on both marine and terrestrial environments, while several research groups specialise in the Baltic Sea region. Click the links below to find out more about our work.


Elinor Andrén, Thomas Andrén, Martin Dahl, Patrik Dinnetz, Karin Ebert, Mats Grahn, Martin Gullström, Monica Hammer, Josefine Larsson, Kari Lehtilä, Nisha Motwani, Mona Petersson, Tove Porseryd, Anushree Sanyal, Sara Sjöling

Doctoral students

Mohanad Abdelgadir, Therese Janzén, Christian Sommer, Patrick Spets, Olena Vinogradova, Kseniia Zakharova. External link.


Research projects conducted within the theme are listed here (additional examples are available on the researchers’ profile pages):

Sustainability Challenges and Pathways

The overarching theme of Sustainability Challenges and Pathways is divided into three overlapping and interrelated focus areas:

  • Governance and management,
  • Development, justice and power, and
  • Transdisciplinarity and transformation.

Governance and management

Research in this focus area includes governance structures and processes in marine and terrestrial regions, as well as the management of habitats and ecosystems. This encompasses governance and management-related research into natural resources that ranges from climatic systems to local ecosystem services, as well as marine and terrestrial habitats.

Development, justice and power

There is growing recognition of the importance of justice in sustainability and development, but how power relations generate inequitable conditions and undermine prospects for sustainability is a complex and context-dependent issue. As a response, this focus area comprises wide-ranging inter- and transdisciplinary research approaches to human-nature-society interactions, including critical analytical approaches that engage with sustainability challenges, questions and opportunities for change. Research into democracy, conflict, state-society relations, governance processes, economic and identity-related inequalities, power relations, social inclusion, land and water use, and rural and urban livelihoods are the subjects of this focus area. In scrutinising sustainability challenges and possibilities, we emphasise the importance of societal and environmental justice, identity and rights-based approaches, as well as knowledge about power relations, societal movements and analyses of cultural, epistemic, and ontological divides.

Transdisciplinarity and transformation

To meet sustainability challenges, now and in the future, transdisciplinary and transformative research is needed to develop sustainability pathways that are underpinned by scientific understanding. They should be embedded in resource-user and practitioner understandings and enabled through institutionalised action. This research seeks to generate critical insights into the obstacles and possibilities for increasing global and intergenerational equity, while respecting and conserving biodiversity and the ecosystem services on which diverse socio-cultures depend for their wellbeing. Adopting a transdisciplinary and transformative research approach to exploring and examining sustainability pathways, necessitates dialogue between society (communities, societal movements and NGOs), companies, governmental institutions and academia, in and across different contexts.


Juliana Porsani, Maria Bergman, Madeleine Bonow, Gloria L Gallardo Fernández, Michael Gilek, Monica Hammer, Björn Hassler, Tomas Kjellqvist, External link. Johanna Johansson, Rickard Lalander, Kari Lehtilä, Clas Lindberg External link., Mats Nilsson, Romina Rodela, Fred Saunders, Nandita Singh, Sara Sjöling, Igne Stalmokaite, Ralph Tafon, Ekaterina Tarasova

Doctoral students

Viviane Griesinger External link., Ola Luthman, Nikolina Oreskovic, Tatiana Sokolova, Erika Öhlund


Here are a few examples of research projects conducted within the research theme (further examples are found on the researchers’ profile pages):