Critical Sustainability Studies

Critical Sustainability Studies

Current News

23.05.22 - Research

New Publication

New publication by Andrea Kölbel, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka andSusan Thieme.

Kölbel, Andrea; Pfaff-Czarnecka, Joanna; Thieme, Susan (Eds.) (2022). Universities as Transformative Social Spaces. Mobilities and Mobilizations from South Asian Perspectives. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Table of Contents Universities as Transformative Social Spaces (PDF, 52KB)

If you are interested in the publication, please contact Susan Thieme.

17.03.22 - Research

New Publication

A new publication by Susan Thieme, Marina Richter and Carole Ammann.

Thieme, Susan; Richter, Marina & Ammann, Carole (2022): Economic Rationalities and Notions of ‘Good Cure and Care’. In: Medical Anthropology, S. 1 - 14.

Economic Rationalities and Notions of ‘Good Cure and Care’ (PDF, 750KB)

08.02.2022 - Research

Call for research-art collaboration: ON UN/HEALTHY GROUNDS

The mLAB, located at the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern, is pleased to announce its third call for residencies in the form of transdisciplinary research collaborations between academia, research, (digital) media, and art. The residency aims to foster collaborations that experiment with new methodological approaches, forms of knowledge production, and science communication.

  • TYPE: Transdisciplinary project development
  • PERIOD: Sep 2022 – Apr 2023
  • DURATION: 1 month, or 30 days spread over a longer period
  • DEADLINE: April 14, 2022 (11 PM CET)
  • WHO: All disciplines–ranging from freelancers to students to professors. From anywhere


Further projects related to health:

14.12.2021 - Research


New Publications

New Publications from Susan Thieme and Patricia Frey are available.

Thieme S. and P. Fry (2021): Transdisziplinarität praktisch erleben: Prinzipien für die geographische Hochschullehre. In Wintzer Jeannine, Ivo Moosig I. und Angelika Hof (eds.). Prinzipien, Strukturen und Praktiken geographischer Hochschullehre. Hamburg, UTB. S. 105-118.

Transdisziplinarität praktisch erleben: Prinzipien für die geographische Hochschullehre (PDF, 527KB)

Fry P. and 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 Jeannine, Ivo Moosig I. und Angelika Hof (eds.). Prinzipien, Strukturen und Praktiken geographischer Hochschullehre. Hamburg, UTB. S. 275-288.

From the Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side’: Studierende als aktive Partner*innen für langfristigen Wissenserwerb (PDF, 631KB)

25.11.2021 - Research

Symbolbild Arbeitsplatz

Programme of the 4th Global Science Film Festival

The 4th Global Science Film Festival starts today. From 25 - 28 Novermber 2021 great films can be visited in the cinema REX and EthnoKino Bern. The whole program can be found at

The Global Science Film Festival is a collaboration with our mLAB.

The films deal with current global challenges from different scientific disciplines.

Programme of the 4th Global Science Film Festival (PDF, 349KB)

13.09.2021 - Teaching

Workshop Dr. Rama Mani, 12.10.2021

Workshop of Dr. Rama Mani, Tuesday October 12, 2021 at 3:15pm - 6:15pm (location to be announced).

As part of the Bern Human Geography Colloquium (BHK), Dr. Rama Mani (University of Oxford, Theatre of Transformation Academy) will present on the topic

Transforming Margins: from Health Systems to a Healthy Planetary Society

More information can be found in the link below. The workshop will be conducted in physical presence, there will be no online version or recordings.

Registrations for the workshop will be accepted until September 30, 2021 via email to We will provide information about the workshop location at a later date.

Information on the Workshop (PDF, 523KB)

03.06.2021 - Research

Just Published: Junge Erwachsene im Emmental. Alltag zwischen Mobilität, Beständigkeit und Lokalität.

Schwabe, Amena (2021): Junge Erwachsene im Emmental. Alltag zwischen Mobilität, Beständigkeit und Lokalität. In: Widerspruch 76. Rotpunktverlag: Zürich.


"Wir haben zwei Autos. Müssen zwei haben, so abgelegen wie wir sind. Es ist zwingend notwendig und wir brauchen sie täglich. Meistens sind beide fort, manchmal fahren wir drei bis vier mal ins Dorf runter, weil wir halt Kinder abholen müssen (oder) Kinder bringen für irgendwelche Hobbys, für den Kindergarten, für in die Schule am Mittag - weil es sonst nicht reicht, den Schulweg zu Fuss zu machen." Esther, 31 Jahre

Link to Paper Article (PDF, 1.3 MB)

21.05.2021 - Research

Just Published: Migration and justice in the era of sustainable development goals: a conceptual framework

Janker, Judith and Susan Thieme (2021): Migration and justice in the era of sustainable development goals: a conceptual framework. In: Sustainability Science.


Migration and mobility are major characteristics of societies worldwide. The reasons for and pathways of migrations vary, as do perceptions of migration. Political debates are often organised normatively: the debate on the sustainable develop- ment goals presents migration foremost as a development issue resulting from global inequalities. The problems faced by particular migrants, and what a more sustainable approach to migration would look like are, therefore, often lost in political debates. We aim to address those gaps: the article conceptualizes, based on established academic debates, how sustain- ability in migration can be addressed systematically, which aspects are important for a more sustainable migration process and which trade-offs and injustices exist from several perspectives. We create a conceptual framework of sustainability in migration processes, building on the concepts of inter- and intragenerational justice, commonly accepted as the core of the sustainability concept. We apply this conceptual framework to empirical findings on labour migration and multilocality in Kyrgyzstan. The case enables consideration of the nested system effects of scale and translocality. This research is novel because it bridges the divided literature on migration, justice and sustainability, integrates theoretical and empirical insights and provokes a debate on which kind of migration we want to achieve.

Link to Paper Article (PDF, 887KB)

20.05.2021 - Research

Carole Ammann and Susan Thieme present at the Annual Conference: Diversity Affects

Troubling Institutions”, Berlin, 28./29.5.2021

“It depends from where someone is coming": Negotiations of Social Differences in a Swiss Hospital”

Within the last two decades, social differences within the Swiss health care sector have increased due to the specialisation of training, the differentiation and academisation of nursing, the feminisation of medicine, the entry of men into nursing professions, as well as the arrival of foreign trained nurses and physicians. In addition, a new generation is joining the health sector labour force, and this generation challenges taken-for-granted notions about health professions. Healthcare institutions, on the one hand profit from and depend on the diversity of their personnel. On the other hand, they need to ensure they are functioning well using processes we call homogenisation. In this presentation, we ask how these social differences intersect and how they are negotiated between and among nurses and physicians in the everyday working life within a hospital setting.

22.01.2020 - Teaching

Denknetz Nr. 009

"Partnering for Change: Link Research to Societal Challenges"

New Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) of the network for transdisciplinary research (td-net)

In today’s world, we face many complex societal challenges. Research projects addressing these challenges often involve actors and stakeholders from different fields and disciplines bringing together their own perspectives or knowledge on a topic. Accordingly, collaborative transdisciplinary approaches are crucial for the success of a project. Students, researchers and practitioners from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to learn how to do research that helps to overcome societal challenges.

Digitalisation provides a unique leverage point to increase access and extending reach equitably across the higher education landscape globally. However, digital teaching material on transdisciplinary approaches has been scarce so far.

A partnership brought together the Network for Transdisciplinary Research td-net, the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Swiss Universities of Basel, Bern and Geneva, Universities of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland and Luzern, ETH Zurich, University for Teacher Education Zug, to produce a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The MOOC concept and its content are designed through intense co-production processes by experts of the above-mentioned institutes. The MOOC format combines simplicity and creativity to “tell an interesting story” and provoke conversation through social learning between and amongst learners and educators.

The course presents transdisciplinary research as a living experience. With a basis on sound theoretical and methodological background, five outstanding projects illustrate promising different ways of dealing with complex societal challenges. The projects address a) health care for mobile pastoralists, b) water scarcity in the Alps, c) coping with decline in a mountain village, d) labour migration, and e) governance of antimicrobial resistance.

Starting from these challenges, the course will take learners on a journey through the main phases and steps of transdisciplinary research projects. Some of the important questions along the trajectory are: 1) how are the project and its goals framed, 2) what actors are important and which should be involved, 3)  what forms of knowledge are important, 3) how can scientists from different disciplines and societal actors interact to co-produce relevant knowledge, 4) what ethical considerations arise regarding research partnerships, 5) in what ways do such projects have societal and scientific impact, 6) what are potential challenges and pitfalls, and 7) what could knowledge co-production mean for you, your work, your career?

The inscription for this free online course is open now. The course starts on 30th March 2020 and consists of six weeks totalling 30 hours’ workload for learners. Each week consists of a mix of formats, including videos, articles, discussions and quizzes. Students from all departments, professionals, and teachers, are the targeted participants. All material, except the interactive parts, will be available year-round and can be integrated in lectures, courses, and self-studies.