Reporting from an inspiring day of first year PhD seminars

Yesterday, the 25th of September, the newly christened Maathai and Carson seminar rooms were properly debuted when they played host to the first year PhD seminars of the newest batch of LUCID doktorander. The four doctoral students from the Sustainability Science partner of LUCID (i.e. LUCSUS) presented the progress they have made and the challenges they have encountered over the past year of study, in twenty minute presentations. This was followed by, critical and constructive, interrogative exchange with appointed discussants lasting in the region of 35 minutes. Thereafter, the discussion was opened to members of the substantial audience of supervisors, teachers and students who had come predominantly from the LUCSUS centre but also from other LUCID partners and further flung reaches of the university. The early start, with David Harnesk beginning his presentation at 8:15, did not discourage interested colleagues from attending and the atmosphere remained collegial and productive right through to five in the evening when Chad Boda answered his last question.



David Harnesk (bottom photo above) presented his project, tentatively titled (as all the projects were at this early stage): Regulating carbon capitalism: What are the sustainability criteria, who employs them and whose sustainability counts? The project centres on the EUs sustainability criteria, certification schemes that have been established as a result, and their relationship to political and ecological realities in Tanzania as case study country. An overarching question that motivated the presentation and the subsequent discussion, excellently lead by Ruben Zondervan, was: Can society regulate the sustainability of production and supply chains in a globalised world?



Second on the scene was Ellinor Isgren (top photo above) presenting her proposed analysis of the potential of Alternative pathways to agricultural modernization in Uganda. The dominant model for agricultural modernization in Uganda, as with much of the world, is based on the green revolution but social and ecological concerns about this model abound. Agro-ecology presents an alternative model with potential for greater sustainability. Ellinor is interested in understanding and articulating potential pathways for agro-ecology, as one possible case rather than the definitive solution, to challenge the dominant model, rather than in producing arguments for its sustainability. Theoretical and methodological questions and concerns were posed by the two discussants, working complimentarily, Maryam Nastar and Karin Steen.


After a much deserved lunch and a change of venue from Maathai to Carson, Ebba Brink (left both pictures) introduced the audience to her project: Resilient cities, resilient residents? Exploring the linkages between municipal adaptation planning and city dwellers capacity to adapt to climate change. Kim Nicholas, who acted as discussant, explored with Ebba her interest in bringing greater analytical attention to people’s individual and collective capacity to respond and adapt to climate change related hazards in Swedish cities, such as flooding and heatwaves, in the context of their interaction with municipal institutions. Kim encouraged Ebba to pursue her intuition to follow her study of Swedish cities with further work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Last but not least, Chad Boda (top photo above), with Lennart Olsson as enthusiastic discussant, gave a pictorial presentation on his research work in the barrier island community of Flagler beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast entitled: Sand dunes and seashells: Dialectical explorations of the past, present and future transformations of Florida’s Atlantic barrier island landscapes. In a case where an extremely geomorphologically and ecologically dynamic system meets an increasingly flexible yet insistent mode of capitalist development, the question perhaps became: what isn’t this a case of?  


Thanks to all who attended for an inspiring day but in particular Barry Ness for organising the session, the PhD candidates themselves for their hard work in preparation and the discussants for their time and curiosity. Next up: mid-term seminars, Autumn 2015!

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