Transition online talks logo

Seminar Series

These are times of upheaval. Social unrest, far-reaching environmental degradation, and rapid technological change challenge the way we see the world.  These times call on us to think big and to think differently. 

Transitions Talks invites you to explore new perspectives on innovation and sustainability. We bring together leading thinkers from civil society with academic researchers. We present a challenging keynote speech and facilitate a discussion with invited panelists. We provide an opportunity to reflect, talk and network. 

The purpose of Transitions Talks is to put our research efforts in a broader context, by inviting new perspectives on innovation and sustainability, as well as to explore the role and orientation of our work in relation to pressing social and environmental challenges. In addition, Transitions Talks provides a platform for scholarly interaction and highlights the emerging network around Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions.
No registration is necessary. The talks will be held in English.

Transition Talks is a seminar series presented by Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions. The organizing team are Kjell Vowles (STS), Maria ​Altunay (ESA), Gavin McCrory (FRT), Martin Hultman (STS), Hans Hellsmark (ESA) and Frances Sprei (FRT). To contact the organising team, please send an email to:​


​Transiti(on-line) Talks 2021

9 June 2021, 11.55-13.00
Climate Change in the Newsroom – Journalism’s role in Transitions

Stories about the spectacular or the unexpected, which are close in time and space, are normally deemed newsworthy. Unfortunately, in the global north, climate change and sustainability issues often run counter to this logic. It is a never-ending story and it is people far away that are suffering the worst consequences. Climate change also poses questions regarding accountability. Investigative journalism is about being a watchdog, but how do you expose the everyday workings in a carbon-intensive society, and who should you hold to account? In this seminar we discuss the role of journalism in times of systemic crises: Which stories fit into the newsroom, and how can we as researchers contribute?


Axel Andén is the editor-in-chief of Haparandabladet, where he tries to add a local perspective on climate change news and a columnist for Svenska Dagbladet. He is also former editor-in-chief of Medievärlden, where he covered how climate change was reported nationally in Swedish newspapers.


Anna Roosvall is Professor of Media and Communication Studies in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. Her research is centered on three overlapping areas: 1) online journalism and issues of justice and solidarity, particularly in relation to identity politics, ethnicity, nationality and globalization; 2) media and climate change, particularly in relation to global climate justice and indigenous peoples; and 3) cultural journalism, specifically its political and ethical  aspects. She is also the co-editor of a new special issue of the Nordic Journal of Media Studies about climate change journalism.

Björn Sandén is professor of Innovation and Sustainability at the Division of Environmental Systems Analysis at Chalmers University of Technology. He conducts research, writes and teaches on topics such as climate and technology policy, life cycle assessment, technological innovation systems and industrial transitions. He frequently lectures to a wide range of audiences and takes part in discussions and debates in newspapers, radio and TV, and is a member of the Swedish Climate Policy Council.

Video from the seminar

​​​4 March, 11:55 – 13:00
Shifting Urban Diets

The complexity of transitioning the food-health-climate-nexus in Copenhagen
There is growing evidence that historic health gains risk being undone by our society’s current direction. Aside from genetic makeup, human health is determined by a range of psychological, environmental and behavioural factors, and is intrinsically linked to planetary health. Climate change, rapid urbanisation and dwindling human-nature relations have all given rise to a host of complex health and sustainability challenges new to the 21st century. They also lead to “lose-lose” situations where dominant activities and expected trends are simultaneously unhealthy for both people and the planet. In a world of such interconnections, how can we reverse the trends and target systems change that prioritises health and well-being? In this talk, we invite EAT - an international science-based non-profit dedicated to food systems transformations - to discuss the need for nexus thinking where healthy people and a healthy planet go hand in hand. Emily Norford from EAT shares her experience from the Shifting Urban Diets initiative in Copenhagen, illustrating how cities move towards improved food systems through policy commitments, improving food environments, and rethinking school meals and discusses how such a transition can be achieved in other Scandinavian contexts.


Portrait_web_Emily_577x442.jpgEmily Norford leads EAT’s portfolio of work dedicated to urban food systems transformation – including partnering with C40 on a global Food Systems Network; coordinating Shifting Urban Diets, a multi-partner initiative that aims to translate global food systems targets to the city context; and engaging with the FoodSHIFT2030 project and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. Prior to joining EAT, Emily worked at the World Resources Institute, was part of a joint Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Stellenbosch University project analyzing resource consumption in African cities, and supported several NGOs with work related to energy, biodiversity, climate change adaptation and resilience. She holds a master’s degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science from Lund University. Visit her personal webpage, project webpages and short video about the food environment component


Erik André​, Chalmers: research on sustainable consumption within the research programme Mistra Sustainable Consumption. As a municipal PhD student his primary focus is on local policy for sustainable consumption.

​Anna Winkvist​, Professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska Academy at the Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, and guest professor at Sustainable Health, Dept of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University.

See video from the seminar


Transiti(on-line) Talks 2020

9 Dec​ember, 12.00-13.00

Transitioning from grassroots

Think global, act local

At a time when transitions are hot on the agenda, seeds of change may appear closer to home than we think. In recent years, the local has emerged as a site where communities are responding to environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability in creative ways. ‘Omställningsnätverket’ (Transition Network in Sweden) represents a global community-based network, striving to nurture communities based on both ‘inner’ and 'outer' transition to form regenerative local communities. They promote local resilience through local co-created solutions, which include creating diverse local forms of ownership and participation in food, mobility and waste systems among other things. These changes are not merely incremental; in locally driven, bottom-up approaches to sustainability, society finds catalysts for new insights at the level of values and beliefs. How then can society (and research) engage with grassroots innovations in a way that multiplies the potential transformational change? In other words, is it possible to embrace the tensions that exist between local practices and global change? In this talk, we invite Omställningsnätverket’s chair David Bennett and discuss how regenerative local communities can be the source of innovative societal transformation towards and beyond sustainability.


David Bennett ​is chair of Transition Network Sweden, co-founder of the "Village academy", smallholder, teacher, Warm Data host and part time transitioner since 2007, full time transitioner since 2018. David speaks regularly on transition to local groups around Sweden and works with the work of the board of TN Sweden to co-ordinate the transition movement in Sweden. He holds trainings in transition and represents both the network and the village academy in research projects around the country. 


Gunilla Almered Olsson, Professor in human ecology, GU
Jaan-Henrik Kain​, Professor, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning, Chalmers


23 September, 11:55 –13:00

Climate justice
What if indigenous peoples had a say in capitalist decision-making?
Indigenous peoples are living on the frontiers of climate change, seeing their livelihoods threatened unevenly by the consequences of climate change. At the same time, there is a long history of discrimination and colonization, and many communities have been living with a threat to lives, livelihood and well-being for decades or centuries. Not least have indigenous communities been sacrificed and exploited in the name of development, often in the form of what has been considered engineering feats such as large hydropower. In this seminar, we highlight the struggles of indigenous communities, and how to avoid repeating mistakes of the past in the current transition.
Sanna Vannar, Åvddåulmusj/president of the sáminuorra 
Vannar (24), is from Jokkmokk, and also reindeerherder. Not all the members of Sáminuorra are from reindeer herding families, but as a cornerstone of Saami culture, the reindeer are integral to the lives of all Saami. This is why the fate of the reindeer is directly linked with the future of the Saami. Sáminuorra has decided to take this Peoples Climate Case to the European General Court.

Helene Ahlborg, Associate Professor in the division of Environmental Systems Analysis, in the Department of Technology Management and Economics.
Helene Ahlborg’s research is about rural electrification in East Africa and societal transformation. She studies the co-development of technology and society and how the provision of electricity services, based on small-scale renewable energy resources, impacts on people’s lives and transforms rural communities. But also, how the local context and especially social, economic and power relations between poor and rich, women and men, young and old, village and town, etc. influence the electrification process and impact on the long-term viability of the energy system.
Steve Williams, Research Group Leader - Transdisciplinary Theory, Evaluation, and Culture, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, DE; SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, SE; Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Vancouver, CA 
Steve's research is on assessing the impact of sustainability transitions processes with a focus on energy systems transition. He studies the processes, effects, and impacts of transition labs with a particular emphasis on integrating conceptions of environmental justice into his analysis. Most recently, Steve is leading a new Research Group at IASS that is investigating the theory, methods, and cultures of transdisciplinary and transformative research. A common thread through his research is the integration, representation, and recognition of Indigenous peoples in transitions research and practice. Google scholar profile​

12 June, 12:00 – 13:00

When COVID cut our wings
With planes on the ground and society homebound, what is the future of mobility?

In a matter of days, Coronavirus achieved what many climate activists and scientists have spent years striving towards; it brought aviation to a standstill across the globe. As flying flatlined and carbon emissions dropped in Sweden, an industry on the brink cut costs and requested bailouts. Despite the cautious optimism from within the climate community, there are also larger signs of uncertainty for the future of mobility; COVID-19 may have profound implications for not only flying, but also how we travel and move on a daily basis. What may this sudden moment of transformation mean for long-term transitions? Can practices developed or curbed during the pandemic lead to lasting societal norms? Is this simply a momentary lapse in the act of flying and the systems that support it? In this seminar we discuss the role of aviation in the climate transition and explore what may await aviation in a post-corona world.

MajaRosen_190821_170x220px.jpgMaja Rosén, climate activist and the co-founder of the organisation We Stay on the Ground, and the campaign Flight-Free 2020She is the author of a guide about how to talk about aviation and climate​ and has featured extensively in Swedish and international media on the subject of climate change and aviation, as well as holding a TedX-talk.

Stefan Gössling is a professor at the Department of Service Management and Service Studies, Lund University, and the School of Business and Economics at Linnaeus University. He works with tourism and transport in the context of sustainability and is specifically interested in climate change, transport policies, transport psychology, and transport economics.

Jörgen Larsson iAssistant professor at the Department of Space, Earth and Environment, at Chalmers. His research area is sustainable consumption patterns and in recent years the focus has been on long distance travel with research on methodology for emissions accounting, travel patterns analysis and policy analysis.​

Watch the talk on Chalmers TME YouTube channel
Download the list of references

29 APRIL, 12:00 –13:00

The stories we tell
What if we accept the grief and sorrow of rapid climate change and the loss of ecosystems?

Many have noted that we need a new story of human society, one not based on conquering nature but about a successful transition. One might ask, however, if we really can talk about success? Time is running out to limit global warming to 1,5 or 2 degrees, and even if we succeed, that amount of warming will have profound consequences for ecosystems and societies around the planet. What happens if we acknowledge our failure to prevent these losses? Would a story of failure lead to resignation, or to a deeper transition where we can acknowledge our grief and loss? In this seminar we discuss the role that stories and narratives may play.

Jesper-Weithz_170x220px.jpgJesper Weithz, author, journalist, graphic designer, and playwright who has written extensively about climate change in both fiction and non-fiction. His new book 2020 (Ordfront) is a dark satirical novel about a boy born 2020, in the same year the UN declared the two-degree goal impossible to reach.

Madelene Ostwald, docent and affiliated researcher at the Department of Technology Management and Economics, at the division of Environmental System Analysis.
Rut Elliot Blomquist, a doctoral student at the department of language and literature at the University of Gothenburg.

Page manager Published: Fri 27 Aug 2021.