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Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution: Renewable energy and emerging land-use conflicts

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    Shutterstock, Tony Moran

NOVA PhD course of 5 ECTS, organised by Professor John-Andrew McNeish, Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Associate Professor Mikaela Vasstrøm, University of Agder.
Dates and location: 5-9 August 2019, University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway. The course is CANCELLED.

This is the fourth course in the NOVA PhD course series Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution which is scheduled for 2016-2019. Other courses in the series included:

Course Description 2019
The course will explore environmental conflicts especially related to renewable energy development and land use conflicts in the global North and South.

Global climate challenges and the transition to low-carbon societies influence planning policy and the practice of the governance at all levels of society. Different forms of renewable energy production (bio-energy, wind, solar, hydro, etc.) and related infrastructural developments are at the core of these transitions. Renewable energy developments are increasingly generating new contestations by further transforming landscapes, land use and property relations.

In this course we aim to study the dynamics of these new green contestations. As such we will study the physical impacts of renewable energy projects and the competing discourses and practices expressed in these contexts e.g. regarding conservation, forestry and agriculture, livelihoods and ontologies, economy and recreation, private vs. commons etc. The course studies the contrasts and common experiences of renewable development in both the global North and South - and with a special focus on cases in Scandinavia and Latin America. The course will draw on a set of theoretical approaches including political ecology, science and technology studies, environmental governance and participatory planning.

PhD students will be encouraged in the course to discuss and reflect on their own empirical research through tutored groups. This creates an arena for peer-learning and the further development of academic papers under production by PhD students.

The course not only approaches renewable conflicts through different disciplinary and theoretical approaches and academic examples. The course also facilitates an arena for learning through direct interaction with stakeholders and practitioners. Other than invited speakers in the classroom, through our organization a one-day field excursion, PhD students, invited scholars, practitioners and community representatives will jointly reflect and study land use conflict resulting from renewable energy development.

The course does not seek to characterize a simple plan or model for conflict resolution. In stressing collaborative closures it rather seeks to consider different approaches to dialogue and structural changes that can create openings for collaborations. The course thus focuses on the significance and applicability of different legal and political governance alternatives including formal and informal mechanisms for collaboration, legal intervention, regulation, dialogue, participation, consultation and rapprochement – to deal with land use conflicts related to renewable energy development.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Simone Abram, Professor, Department of Anthropology and Durham Energy Institute, Durham University
  • Siddharth Sareen, Department of Geography and Centre for climate and energy transformation, University of Bergen
  • Else Grete Broderstad, Professor, Centre for Sami studies, University of Tromsø
  • Joe Bryan, Associate Professor of Geography, Department of Geography, University of Colorado 
  • Laura Tolnov Clausen, Researcher, Department of Wind Energy, Danish Technical University 
  • David Phillip Rudolph, Researcher, Department of Wind Energy, Danish Technical University
  • Steven Sparkes, Head of Environment and Social Governance at Statkraft
  • Local politicians and stakeholders in a wind power development site in Southern Norway

Programme Outline
A more detailed program and invited keynote lectures will be published Spring 2019

  1. Introduction to energy developments and land use conflicts in the global North and South, and new understandings of energy in modern societal development.
  2. Approaches to land use conflicts, mapping and counter mapping, governance, knowledge, dialogue and participation.
  3. Cases from Norway (Sami and Southern Norway)
  4. Applying theory in practice: one day field excursion to a local community with wind power planning conflicts
  5. Two sessions of tutored PhD group: discussion and reflections of theoretical and empirical learning in relation to PhD research
  6. Course evaluation

Preliminary programme and practicalities

Pre-/Post-Campus Assignments
Course literature will be provided for each lecture in ample time before the course.

Students must submit an Extended Abstract and Reflection: A short description of their thesis project together with a reflection on why this course is relevant to this work (max 2000 words). To obtain the 5 ECTS the students must send in a revised paper (max. 5000 words) 2 months after the course.

Learning Outcomes
The students will learn to:

  1. Explore and analyze environmental conflicts
  2. Understand complex relations between renewable energy, land-use planning, and economic structures
  3. Understand different types of collaboration and their precondition
  4. Analyse barriers and potentials for collaboration and deliberation
  5. Analyse how socio-economic aspects and knowledge influence management conditions and decision
    making structures

Evaluation Elements
Passed or failed 5 ECTS – based on revised paper.

Pedagogical Approach
The courses provide different theoretical frameworks exemplified in real-world contexts, and time to reflect on own PhD project. This generates a more general capacity to analyze and address environmental conflicts. 

Estimated Workload

  • 80 hours pre-course tasks (reading course literature and writing)
  • 40 hours seminars/lectures
  • 60 hours post-course tasks (writing)

Prerequisite Knowledge
This course is aimed at PhD students with research interests in environmental and development studies, planning, natural resource management and conflict resolution. We can also take MSc students who are interested in the topic and have a suitable background, e.g. in the fields of environmental politics, forest policy and economic, environmental issues, social science or related natural resources governance. Or other advanced studies in environmental conflict situations. All students need to submit an extended abstract and CV. 

Max. 30 PhD students

Admission for NOVA courses is handled by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course. Please see the links in the margin for more information.

With your application, you must submit the following 2 attachments as Pdf documents:

  1. Extended Abstract and Reflection: A short description of your thesis project together with a reflection on why this course is relevant to this work (max 2000 words)
  2. Curriculum vitae: A copy of your CV (preferably in Europass format).


Apply here


We welcome NOVA, BOVA and all other PhD students who share a research interest in the connection between renewable energy development and land use conflicts in the global North and South.
There is no course fee: The course includes a fieldtrip and lunches throughout the course. All other costs related to travel and accommodation are to be covered by the PhD students themselves.

Preliminary programme and practicalities


Published 8. November 2018 - 14:56 - Updated 28. May 2019 - 11:21