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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.

Five seminars are planned for 2020. The descriptions for the following talks will be updated in due time, after confirmation of the speaker. 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 Blarr (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 2020

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 

Sanna 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​

Live stream via Zoom!

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 is Assistant 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.

Upcoming seminars

Healthy transitions
What might it mean to prioritise health and well-being in sustainability transitions?

Restorative technologies
Can technology possibly heal some of the occured damage of the anthropocene or is it just another promise for growth

What is national security in times of climate change?

Published: Wed 23 Sep 2020.