New course on interdisciplinarity in sustainability research

Campus Ås

Campus Ås



Why this course?

In order to contribute to solving the complex problems for a sustainable future, it is not sufficient that researchers are well trained in their own areas of expertise. They also need to understand the perspectives of experts in other disciplines. And yet, it is hard to find a topic on sustainability that is free from scientific controversy.

How sustainable are, for instance, GMOs, organic farming, solar panels, electric cars, fish farming? This is not a purely empirical question.

Every subject matter is situated within a paradigm where the scientific framework is set: theories, concepts, methods, research agenda, etc. Such boundaries are easy to stumble on within any multi-disciplinary institution or collaboration.

In this course, students will learn how to transform such controversies into constructive dialogue.


What more will you learn?

In this course, students will learn:

  • to critically discuss the different possible interpretations of some basic concepts that are foundational for sustainability research, practice and action
  • to identify, understand and critically discuss philosophical bias as a source of academic disagreement
  • to understand the sources of methodological tensions in and between disciplines
  • to consider and discuss social responsibility in research
  • to recognise and engage in ethical discussions and moral dilemmas of sustainability
  • to identify and understand social and institutional enablers and disablers of collaboration
  • a practical tool for interdisciplinary collaboration and writing.


How will you learn?

Philosophical perspectives and theories will be merged into current debates in sustainability research. Students will be offered teaching seminars with discussions and guest lectures, but they will also have to actively engage in the analyses of real cases in groups, flipped classrooms, and in a final poster conference.



The course will be offered in the June block 2020 as a pilot project. By taking part and giving us feedback, you will help us making it a permanent offer to the NMBU PhDs and master in the future.


Registration is now open (please register early): PHI300 (Bacherlor and Master students) and PHI404 (PhD students)


Pilot course flyer



For info, get in touch with the course responsible:

Elena Rocca

Rani Anjum


Published 6. January 2020 - 14:04 - Updated 18. August 2021 - 12:09