The challenges on which we focus demand cross-disciplinary approaches, which is reflected in the group’s composition and its publications. The division has about 35 employees and a broad competence profile encompassing natural sciences, engineering sciences and social sciences. Our different research areas nevertheless share a systems theoretical starting point.
Our research can be placed in the partly overlapping fields of environmental and sustainability assessment, industrial ecology and innovation and transition studies. On a more detailed level, one area covers methods for assessment of different systems’ environmental impacts and resource demands, for example life cycle assessment, environmental risk analysis and material flow analysis. A second area of study is the development and diffusion of new technology as well as transitions of large sociotechnical systems, including analysis of technological, industrial, institutional, and social conditions, processes, and outcomes. A third area is studies of the organization of environmental work within companies and other organizations.
The research develops knowledge and analytical methods for sustainability transitions within different fields of technology and for different sectors. The continuous development of theoretical frameworks is informed by case studies in different empirical areas, such as transport, energy and material provision, advanced materials, water and sanitation, construction, and food, and within different geographical areas, ranging from Northern Europe to Southern Africa. Often, the research is done in collaboration with actors with deep knowledge about specific technologies and systems.
Our contributions to education are based on systems thinking and include courses on bachelor, master and PhD level on our most important assessment tools, on innovation and sociotechnical transitions, and on sustainable development. About twenty PhD students receive their main supervision from researchers at the division. We also supervise bachelor and master theses within the field.