Aktuelle Forschungsprojekte


The EcoArtLab Residency "Den Samen der Veränderung säen" - use art to open up new perspectives on climate change.


Nora Gailer, Alisha Dutt Islam


The residency "Sowing the Seeds of Change" at the EcoArtLab examines climate change from an artistic perspective. Nora Gailer and Alisha Dutt Islam explore the temporal nature of living in climate-conflicted regions and address concepts such as abundance, scarcity, drought and flooding in relation to soil health. Through their work, they aim to change the perception of soil and encourage viewers to rethink their perspective. The connection between India and the Alps is made through the shared impact of climate change, and the project explores alternative forms of connection with nature and collaboration. In an interview with BFH, they talk about their personal motivation and perspective on the project.

In addition, Susan Thieme was interviewed by SRF Regionaljournal Bern Freiburg Wallis about the exhibition at the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum.

2024 -

ASG thematic group Health & Wellbeing


Maaret Jokela-Pansini (University of Oxford) and Susan Thieme (Universität Bern)


Aim of the new thematic group Health & Wellbeing

In Switzerland, geographers conduct critical research on health-related issues, including healthcare workers’ experiences in different institutional settings, mobilities of care workers, assisted reproductive technologies of reproductive health, environmental health and pollution, and patients’ experiences of health and wellbeing, among others. Despite this pivotal subfield in human geography, there is a lack of spaces for geographers working on health and well-being-related issues to exchange knowledge and practices.

The new ASG thematic group Health and Wellbeing aims to bring together researchers in geography studying the different factors that influence health and wellbeing and produce injustices, and the practices and discourses different individuals and institutions use to act upon such injustices in a transformative way. In particular, we 1) promote transdisciplinary research stressing collaboration between different stakeholders, including researchers, artists, non-governmental actors, civil society, patients, and policymakers. In line with current global debates in health-related research in geography and beyond, we aim 2) to advance participatory research and engage participants in research processes. Such an approach also recognises that 3) collaborating across different disciplines is fundamental for understanding health inequalities and for formulating recommendations to overcome such inequalities.

Concretely, the thematic group will organise workshops, meetings and talks to address issues related to health and wellbeing and to connect people working along those topics.

Image: Dialog N

2023 -

EcoArtLab: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Climate Change


Dr. Yvonne Schmidt, Johanna Paschen, Riikka Tauriainen, Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme, Mirko Winkel


Fridays for Future, climate crisis, net zero – the debate about climate change and ecological sustainability has moved to the center of society. What options for action exist and what conditions must be in place for a societal transformation toward greater sustainability to be possible?

In an SNSF-funded collaboration between the Institute for Practices and Theories of the Arts at the Bern Academy of the Arts HKB and our mLAB we explore how the interplay of expertise from artistic research, geography and critical sustainability research can be made fruitful for the climate debate. The main focus is on climate art projects that involve collaborative approaches between artists and scientists.

What methodologies can be developed in transdisciplinary collaborations to make climate change tangible as a hyperobject (Morton 2013) and to drive cultural change?

Outcome of the project will be an overview of the current trend of climate art, which makes it possible to develop criteria for the evaluation of such works as well as to give impulses for innovative forms of transdisciplinary collaboration in dialogue with practitioners – researchers, artists and institutions.

More information on the EcoArtLab

2022 -

Healthcare unbound: A transnational perspective on the future of the world of work in health care


Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme, Dr. Sarah Hartmann, Dr. Christine Bigler, Dr. Sony KC, Luca Tschiderer


Course 'Film and Geography':

Workshop "Creative Methods in Health Geographies", collaboration with School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford UK, Critical Sustainability Studies and mLab, Institute of Geography at the University of Bern.

Workshop "OUR ONE EARTH HOME: An Embodied Journey of Transformation" - Introduction to the Theatre of Transformation Methodology with Dr. Rama Mani


The health sector in Switzerland shows the global trend of economization, oriented towards market-driven modes of governance. Cost-effectiveness started to dominate other, rather public, and common good-related criteria. The recruitment of health workers (e.g. doctors, nurses, midwives, technical staff) from abroad allows for shifting costs of medical education and training and circulations of knowledge and technologies to budgets of other countries. The outcome of this overemphasis on economic indicators is part of a more general tendency of the commodification of work, health and care-related knowledge and technologies and raises questions about capacities and capabilities for social, economic, ecological innovation, emancipation, and justice in search for more sustainable ‘work’. The effects of the increasing commodification trends on the quality of work as perceived by the main target group of a health institution – the patients – is also widely unknown.

Therefore, this research project addresses processes, actors and institutions related to the com-modification of work, health and care-related knowledge (incl. professional education and training) and technologies from a multi-scalar and translocal perspective. We aim at co-creating knowledge and contributing to debates about the future of the world of work in health care, based on inter- and transdisciplinary social learning among key actors of the health care system and us as researchers integrating media, art and digital technologies jointly with the mLAB.

To empirically capture those questions the research should take Switzerland as an entry point and remain open to the translocal linkages the research will reveal.


Further, see call for mLAB-residency for research art collaboration on UN/HEALTHY GROUNDS 



Art map

mLAB: Where science and digital media meet.


Prof. Dr. Carolin Schurr, Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme and the whole mLAB Team, Bern; financed by Strategic funds of the Faculty of Science University of Bern


The mLAB at the Institute of Geography is an experimental space that encourages researchers to develop new modes of collaborative and collective work and to critically use arts, media and digital research methods as an integral part of their work, promoting unorthodox coalitions of aesthetics and geography.

Besides making research results visible, the focus is also on sensorial routes of knowledge creation. Digital methods and artistic perspectives enable a different kind of research, they place the researchers and the researched personalities in a completely different way at the center and in relation to each other. They open up spaces for the invisible and the unspeakable and provoke new forms of approaching a theme.

The main questions are: How can we create points of access for outsiders to the terrain of our research? What role can contemporary digital media practice play in collecting, analyzing and communicating data? What does artistic research mean in different academic fields? How can different kinds of data material (quantitative, qualitative, visual, digital) be handled aesthetically? How can art help to generate another sense of meaning alongside mere logics of utilization?

The mLAB was created as a creative and inclusive laboratory by the units critical sustainability studies and social and cultural geography of the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern and is currently run by the artist Mirko Winkel. It comprises a large team of scholars whose interest is to discover new directions and imaginative formats within and beyond geography.


  • Thieme, S. & P. Fry (2023). Teaching transdisciplinary competencies for sustainability transformation by co-producing social learning videos. GAIA, Special Issue: Creating Spaces and Cultivating Mindsets for Transdisciplinarity. 32(1), 154-161.
  • Thieme, S., I. Vögeli, M. Winkel, & L. Tschiderer (2023). Care-Arbeit erzählbar machen – Transdisziplinäre Lehre als Aushandlung zwischen geographischer Forschung und künstlerischer Praxis (Narrating care-work: negotiating geographical research and artistic practice in transdisciplinary teaching). QuPuG - Journal für Qualitative Forschung in Pflege- und Gesundheitswissenschaft, 1(10), 6-14.
  • Thieme, S. & P. Fry (2021). Transdisziplinarität praktisch erleben: Prinzipien für die geographische Hochschullehre. In: Wintzer J., I. Moosig & A. Hof (Eds.). Prinzipien, Strukturen und Praktiken geographischer Hochschullehre. Hamburg, UTB. 105-118.
  • Fry, P. & S. Thieme (2021). ‘From the Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side’: Studierende als aktive Partner*innen für langfristigen Wissenserwerb. In: Wintzer J., I. Moosig & A. Hof (Eds.). Prinzipien, Strukturen und Praktiken geographischer Hochschullehre. Hamburg: UTB. 275-288.
  • Fry, P., F. Schmid & S. Thieme (2021). 'Social Learning Videos' vermitteln Handlungswissen. Proclim Flash, 74, 10-11. ProClim Forum für Klima und globalen Wandel.
  • Fry, P. & S. Thieme (2019). A Social Learning Video Method: Identifying and Sharing Successful Transformation Knowledge for Sustainable Soil Management in Switzerland. Soil Use and Management, 35(1), 185-194.
  • Thieme, S., Ph. Eyer & A. Vorbrugg (2019). Film VerORTen: Film als Forschungs- und Kommunikationsmedium in der Geographie. Geographica Helvetica, 74(4), 293-297.




Professionelle Kompetenzentwicklung durch videobasierte Fallarbeit in der Lehrpersonenausbildung


Dr. Matthias Probst (PH), Jöri Hoppler (GIUB und PH), Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme (PhD supervision)


Ein Doktorat in Zusammenarbeit mit der Pädagogischen Hochschule Bern.

Für Lehrpersonen ist es herausfordernd, kompetenzorientierten und kognitiv anregenden Fachunterricht zu planen und umzusetzen. Deshalb gilt es für Fachdidaktiker*innen an pädagogischen Hochschulen, die angehenden Lehrpersonen bestmöglich darauf vorzubereiten. Wegen des engen Theorie-Praxis-Bezugs wird die Arbeit mit Videos (videobasierter Fallarbeit) aus dem Unterrichtsalltag als geeignete Methode dafür betrachtet, jedoch fehlt es bisher an konkreten Umsetzungen für Fächer wie Geografie. Überdies ist wenig bekannt, welche Bereiche professioneller Kompetenz damit wirklich gefördert werden.

Ziel des Projektes ist es,  zielführende fundierte Unterrichtsarrangements mit vbF zu entwickeln und dadurch die professionelle Kompetenz der angehenden Lehrpersonen gezielt zu fördern. Als Grundlage dienen Materialien des E-Portals Kompetenzorientierte fachspezifische Unterrichtsentwicklung


Russia’s New Forests: Assembling and Governing a Resource Frontier


Alexander Vrobrugg


The project’s overall aim is to better understand how competing economic and environmental interests as well as new modes of governing shape the current making of “new forests” on abandoned agricultural land in Russia. Due to its massive scale and complex implications, a better understanding of this process is highly relevant for questions of planetary carbon sequestration, Russia’s resource strategies and their international implications, and rural livelihoods in Russia. For this purpose, the project combines approaches from political ecology, governmentality and science and technology studies. It draws on a range of research methods including ethnographic fieldwork, and interdisciplinary collaboration.


Deportation flight. Plane on the tarmac

Circulations of Deportation: the Control of Migration and Populations in Translocal Perspective.


Prof. Dr. Susan ThiemeProf. Dr. Sabine StrasserProf. Dr. Alberto Achermann, Dr. Paolo Gaibazzi  (all University of Bern) and PD. Dr. Stephan Scheuzger (Liechtenstein Institut & ETH Zurich); financed by IDGrant University of BerN


In times of highly politicized debates about increasing “irregular” migration, authorities are called upon to enforce sovereign powers of controlling human mobility. Deportation appears to be one self-evidently legitimate solution to deal with unauthorized mobile persons but is in practice a highly complex process of statecraft. As a group of researchers from law, history, social anthropology, and geography, we are working towards an interdisciplinary research proposal for a project which aims at opening new perspectives on the reconstruction and analysis of deportation regimes in their cross-border entanglements.

2018 - 2021

Employment and Social Differences in the Health Sector: An Institutional Perspective on a Swiss Hospital


Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme (Institute of Geography), Marina Richter (HES-SO Valais-Wallis) and Carole Ammann (Since 2023 ETH Zurich); financed by the Foundation Homo Liberalis.


The interdisciplinary project ‘Employment and Social Differences in the Swiss Health Sector’ aims to unveil social differences in the health care labour market by analyzing the institutional logics of personnel policy within hospitals in a situation of staff shortage and under the pressure of neoliberal restructuring. We conduct an institutional ethnography (Smith 2005) of a Swiss acute hospital to understand the institutional logic and ruling relations that shape personnel policies in this specific place. This perspective is combined with a multilevel intersectional lens (Winker & Degele 2009) to capture how personnel policies are structured by categories of social difference such as gender, age, education, position and origin.

Projektbeschrieb.pdf (PDF, 87KB)




Further, see call for mLAB-residency for research-art collaboration on UN/HEALTHY GROUNDS 

2018 - 2020


Wie is(s)t Bern?


Prof. em. Dr. Stephan Rist, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), Institute of Geography, University of Bern


Seit vier Jahren führt das CDE und GIUB ein grosses R4D-SNF Forschungsprojektes zum Thema «Ernährungsnachhaltigkeit- Food Sustainability» durch. Über den Kontakt mit der Stadt Bern (Amt für Umweltschutz) und mit der Plattform «Bärenhunger» (https://www.baerenhunger.ch) wurden wir gebeten, eine transdisziplinäre und handlungsorientierte Nachhaltigkeitsanalyse der wichtigsten Ernährungssysteme der Stadt Bern zu erstellen. Die Untersuchung soll in enger Zusammenarbeit mit gesellschaftlichen Gruppen, eine Reihe von konkreten Politikmassnahmen zur Verbesserung der Ernährungsnachhaltigkeit in der Stadt Bern zu entwickeln. Diese werden dann in einer zweiten Phase über eine intensive Zusammenarbeit von Politik, Bevölkerung und Uni Bern umgesetzt.


Wildisen, N. (2019): “Ökologische Nachhaltigkeit Des Ernährungssystems Der Stadt Bern.” Universität Bern.

Wildisen, Niklas. 2019. “Ökologische Nachhaltigkeit Des Ernährungssystems Der Stadt Bern.” (PDF, 6.2 MB)