Welcome to Theories of Sustainable Transitions


Description: This PhD course is intended for students conducting research related to analysis, design and innovation processes for the needed transformations to achieve sustainability goals. The teachers of the course will offer advanced discussion in theories of transitions and will illustrate their theoretical work through case studies conducted in various places including Holland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Argentina. These case studies range from local community based initiatives, to city projects to country and regional programs for sustainability. International collaboration efforts will also be discussed. 


At the end of this course the students would be able to:

  1. Explain how their own project and ideas relate to state of the art discussions in transitions theories (MLP; TIS; AOD; Practice Theory)
  2. Explain the principal issues involved in innovations for sustainable transitions.
  3. Describe the main challenges and efforts to sustainable transitions in various countries.
  4. Describe the main challenges and efforts to sustainable transitions in urban settings analysing examples from Europe.
  5. Describe the main governance challenges and advancements in relation to governance theories to achieve sustainable transitions. 

Students should:

  1. Enrol in the course by 31 March 2017 at https://phd.moodle.aau.dk/login/
  2. Deliver a one-page description of their project by 1 of April 2017. Please be clear about what are the questions of your research project and in what ways you imagine that the transitions theories might be supportive.
  3. Deliver by the 1st of May 2017 a three-page analysis of how their project relates to the course. In what ways does the literature help the project? In what ways does the project serves as a basis to criticize the literature?
  4. Make a presentation during the course in order to get feedback from the teachers. The aim of the presentation is that students test their ideas of how the theories of transitions might be supportive of their project. (This is optional but strongly recommended)
  5. Deliver by the 30th of July 2017 a 10 page paper with the full elaboration of their ideas. Ideally this exercise should support the students’ progress in their PhD either by advancing her state of the art review, a chapter, an article or any kind of structured idea.

In short:

  • Deadline for enrolment: 31 March 2017
  • Deadline for project paper: 1 of April 2017
  • Preparatory reading and writing: 1 April – 1 May 2017
  • Deadline for preliminary analysis: 1 May 2017 Meetings: 17-19 May (3 full days)
  • Delivery of a 10 page paper: 30 July 2017

Readings: This reading list is recommended. Students are free to  replace these readings with others they might consider more pertinent. The objective however is that students should mature their theoretical take on their project through the course.

  • Jørgensen, U. (2012). Mapping and navigating transitions—The multi-level perspective compared with arenas of development. Research Policy.
  • MARKARD, J. & TRUFFER, B. 2008. Technological innovation systems and the multi-level perspective: Towards an integrated framework. Research Policy,  37, 596-615.
  • GEELS, F. W., HEKKERT, M. P. & JACOBSSON, S. 2008. The dynamics of sustainable innovation journeys. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 20, 521-536.
  • Smith, A. (2007) Translating sustainabilities between green niches and socio-technical regimes, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 19, 4: 427-450
  • Marin, A. and M. Vila Seoane (2013). “A path breaking niche: The Cooperative COOPSOL Ltda.”.
  • Smith, A. and R. Raven (2012) What is protective space?  Reconsidering niches in transitions to sustainability, Research Policy 41: 1025-1036.
  • Smith, A., Kern, F, Raven, R. and B. Verhees (2013 – in press) Spaces for sustainable innovation: solar photovoltaic electricity in the UK, Technological Forecasting & Social Change
  • Smith, A., Fressoli, M. and H. Thomas (2012 – accepted) Grassroots innovation movements: challenges and contributions, Journal of Cleaner Production
  • Marin, A. (2012): Putting natural resources industries to work forsustainable development in Latin America. Poverty in Focus, Nro 24, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth, p:  35-37.
  • Marin, A.,L. Stubrin and P. Van Zwanenberg   (2013). “Developing capabilities in the seed industry:  which direction to follow?
  • Galvão, A., Juruá, M. and L. Esteves (2012). “The Amazons and the Use of its Biodiversity”. Report for the IDRC funded project “Opening up Natural Resource-Based  Industries  for  Innovation:  Exploring  New  Pathways for Development in Latin America”.
  • Bulkeley, Harriet, and Michele Betsill. "Rethinking sustainable cities: multilevel governance and the 'urban'politics of climate change." Environmental Politics 14.1 (2005): 42-63.
  • Murphy, J and A Smith (2013 – in press) Understanding transition-periphery dynamics: renewable energy in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Environment and Planning A
  • Lissandrello, E. and Grin, J. (2011) Reflexive Planning as Design and Work: Lessons from the Port of Amsterdam. Planning Theory and Practice
  • Voβ, J-P., Smith, A. And J. Grin (2009) Designing long-term policy: re- thinking transition management Policy Sciences 42, 4: 275-302
  • Smith, A. and A.Stirling (2010) The politics of social-ecological resilience and sustainable socio-technical transitions Ecology & Society 15, 1: online http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss1/art11/
  • Smith, A. and F. Kern (2009) The transitions storyline in Dutch environmental policy Environmental Politics, 18, 1: 78-98
  • Lissandrello, E. and Sterrenberg, L. (forthcoming) Transitions in Dutch Politics of Planning

Organizer: Postdoc Andres Felipe Valderrama Pineda, email: afvp@plan.aau.dk and Professor Ulrik Jørgensen, email: uljo@plan.aau.dk

Lecturers: Professor Rob Raven (University of Utrecht); Postdoc Andres Felipe Valderrama Pineda, Professor Ulrik Jørgensen, Professor MSO Inge Pøpke and Assistant Professor Jens Stissing Jensen


Time: 17 - 19 May 2017

Place: Aalborg University, Copenhagen,  AC Meyers Vænge 15, room 2.1.042

Zip code: 2450

City: Copenhagen

Number of seats: 15

Deadline: 31 March 2017


Important information concerning PhD courses We have over some time experienced problems with no-show for both project and general courses. It has now reached a point where we are forced to take action. Therefore, the Doctoral School has decided to introduce a no-show fee of DKK 5,000 for each course where the student does not show up. Cancellations are accepted no later than 2 weeks before start of the course. Registered illness is of course an acceptable reason for not showing up on those days. Furthermore, all courses open for registration approximately three months before start. This can hopefully also provide new students a chance to register for courses during the year. We look forward to your registrations.