Critical Sustainibility Studies



Video Free Trade Agreement

Free trade agreements not only have an impact on the economy, but also on the environment and society. With the aim of making free trade agreements (FTAs) sustainable, geography students from the University of Berne are working on possible solutions for the FTAs between MERCOSUR and the EFTA states in the course "Applied Integrative Geography". The learning process and its results were recorded by the video group. Look at this, this is transdisciplinary teaching in action!


Introductory course on permaculture

Mila Lager, has done an excellent transdisciplinary master thesis on permaculture at the Unit for Critical Sustainability Research at GIUB. Now she is giving a very interesting introductory course, which we can recommend without reservation to all committed students. For more information see the link below.

Einführung Permakultur 2020.docx.pdf (PDF, 275KB)


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"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.



Innovative co-produced open online course starts March 30, 2020














Master thesis of Mila Laager

The Bauernzeitung reported on the presentation of Mila Laager's master thesis on permaculture in Switzerland.

Jil Schuller, Bauernzeitung, 03.05.2019


New courses

The research unit Geography and Sustainable Development offers several courses in new format for master students in the spring semster 2019.






Sustainable Regional Development (KSL: 10908)

Migration and mobility is a key feature in the 21st century. Debates range from migration and innovation, to humanitarian crisis up to anti-immigrant sentiments. But, who is a migrant, why does migration matter, for whom and how; is there a difference between mobility and migration? This lecture takes a sustainability perspective and explores interlinkages between mobility, migration and sustainability by looking at questions of definitions and data sources in migration debates, social protection, decent work and labour migration, technology and migration infrastructures, citizenship and rights. We will critically discuss a wider range of conceptual debates, how they relate to empirical research as well as practical implications and policy debates and will broaden our understanding to what extent migration and sustainability are compatible and/or contradictory.

The lecture follows the model of “inverted classroom”. Students are requested to invest 40-60 min for preparatory work for each lecture. During the classroom we will discuss topics and your questions in greater depth. Students will have to actively contribute to the lectures with e.g. their questions, short presentations, moderations, peer feedbacks for students.

Students will have to fulfill smaller tasks during the lectures.
NO grades are granted, only pass/fail.


Seminar "Nachhaltige Entwicklung" (KSL: 423800, in German only)

Das Seminar kombiniert die Themen Nachhaltige Entwicklung im Kontext von Mobilität (Bsp. Kanton Bern) und transdisziplinäre Methoden am Beispiel von Social Learning Videos (SLV).
Transdisziplinäre Forschung hat sich gesellschaftlich relevanter Probleme angenommen und erarbeitet Lösungen gemeinsam (Ko-produktion) mit der Zivilgesellschaft, Verwaltung und der Wirtschaft. Dazu wurden partizipative Methoden wie die Social Learning Video (SLV) Methode entwickelt. Grundgedanke ist die Unterscheidung zwischen System-, Ziel- und Transformationswissen und das nachhaltige Entwicklung nur durch konkretes Handlungs- respektive Transformationswissen möglich ist. Mit der SLV - Methode gelingt es bereits erfolgreiches Transformationswissen zu ermitteln und mit Hilfe von Videos in den Netzwerken der Zielgruppe weiter zu vermitteln.
Dem transdisziplinären Forschungsverständnis folgend, arbeiten die Studierenden von Beginn an eng mit dem Praxispartner zusammen und werden den Forschungsgegenstand gemeinsam formulieren.
Ergebnis des Seminars wird es sein, dass die Studierenden einen transdisziplinären Arbeitsprozess durchlaufen und dabei zum Thema „Zugang und Praktiken von Mobilität im Kanton Bern“ ein Social Learning Video produzieren, dieses dem Praxispartner präsentieren, gemeinsam diskutieren und diesen Prozess kritisch reflektieren.

Gesamtnote setzt sich aus einem Teil Einzelarbeit und einem Teil Gruppenarbeit zusammen.
Durchgängig aktive Mitarbeit und Engagement in der Zusammenarbeit mit dem Praxispartner sind Voraussetzung für das Gelingen des Seminars.


robotisierte Arbeitsprozesse im Industriekontext

Forum Nachhaltigkeit: Working Futures?

The subject of work is again at the center of scientific and public debates. All kind of transformation processes, conflicts, fears and visions stimulate the discussions in manifold ways. The Institute of Geography (GIUB) is organizing in cooperation with the Center for Development and Environment a lecture series on the topic of work and sustainability.

Forum Sustainability: programme (PDF, 1 Seite, 137KB)


Ernährungssicherheit Symbolbild

master and bachelor theses on food sustainability in Bern

The Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) and the Institute of Geography (GIUB) conduct a transdisciplinary and action-oriented sustainability analysis on the most important nutrition systems in the city of Bern. The research aims to develop specific policy measures to improve the food sustainability in Bern. Results will be developed in close collaboration with various social groups and relevant stakeholders. In the course of various sub studies, the projects offers possibilities for master and bachelor students to write their final theses on specific aspects of the topic.


Teaching in the fall semester 2018

Film and Geography: Introductionary course on audiovisual methods and technologies of documentary film making and its relevance for the geography. Philipp Eyer, Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme (Core Teaching System No: 445091)


Crisis or Cooperation? Spatial, temporal and regulatory perspectives on Migration and Flight. In cooperation with the Institute of Public Law. Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme, PD Dr. Marion Panizzon (Core Teaching System No: 445399)


Summer School: Gender & Space

The summer school will focus on feminist theories as well as thematic and methodological connections between geography and gender studies. The event is jointly organized by the Institute of Geography and the gender department of the University of Zurich and the Institute of Geography of the University of Bern. The summer school is open to all students, PhD candidates and senior researchers of any discipline. The event is part of the series "Humangeographische Sommerschulen" that has been organized since 2010 in different german-speaking countries.

Programme / application details


New course offer

Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme (Institute of Geography) and Prof. Dr. Michaela Schäuble (Institute of Social Anthropology) organize an introductionary film making course. The course takes place within the framework of the university initiative to promote interdisciplinary teaching.


Lecture of Michael Gerber EDA in the forum Development and Environment

Next Thursday 14th of December Michael Gerber of the EDA will speak about the topic "People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership’ as goals for ethical economic activity" in the forum Development and Environment. Public, without charge, German Time: 16:15 - 17:45 Place: GIUB Hörsaal 001


Programme Forum Development and Environment

The programme of the forum Development and Environment is ready. NEW!!! Also the lecturers are certain. See new program. 

‘Transforming our World’ – Agenda 2030 for a sustainable development: the engagement of Switzerland

Time and place:
Every second Thursday, 16:15 - 17:45 o'clock, start: 21st of September 2017


Programme Forum Development and Environment (german) (PDF, 207KB)


Field course Department of Integrativ Geography in the Swiss Alps

From the 18th to the 27th of August the field course of the department of integrative Geography to the UNESCO-Worl Heritage Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch took place under the direction of Prof. Dr. Chinwe Ifejika-Speranza, Prof. Dr. Stephan Rist, Dr. Hanspeter Liniger and Dr. Karina Liechti. 24 students of the University of Bern visited nice places in the Upper Rhone valley and along the Aletsch Glacier and dealt with the local challenges of Sustainable Land Management ans Sustainable Regional Development. 

Photos by Phokham Latthachack and Moritz Burger

Gruppe bei Exkursion
Polizei macht einen Besuch
Gruppe wandert
Chinwe vor Käselager
Gruppe vor Nebel
Chinwe spricht vor Ruine
Hanspeter erklärt
Aussicht auf Aletschgletscher
Chinwe spricht vor Gruppe
Gruppe auf Brücke