Week 37 September 8-14

"What we want to change"

I wish to suggest that there is necessarily a political or, rather, a moral dimension
to all descriptions and definitions of the aims and purposes of higher education.
Every statement regarding what higher education can or should achieve says something
about what we value, how we view the relationship between the individual and the
collective, what kind of world and what sort of society we are prepared to build and
inhabit, and thus also what we want to change. In other words, the question of what
higher education is or should be is, in the last analysis, the question of which values
and ideals we as a matter of fact embrace, even if we do not explicitly refer to these
ideals as ideals. In this respect, we might consider “education,” like “art” or
“justice,” an “essentially contested concept” (Gallie 1964) .Any particular conception
of the notion of “education” is actually a specification of an idea, the use of
which is essentially normative and evaluative; every application of it is therefore
entirely conditioned by those norms and values (which themselves might very well
be implicit rather than explicit).

Rider (2013, p. 172)



de Beauvoir quoteThe second week increases the complexity and brings in new overlapping perspectives such as ethics and interdisciplinary collaboration.

The sessions on Monday will discuss and explore the purpose of higher education, the nature of the university and learning in different contexts at Uppsala university. Tuesday's session will focus on a specific case in Guatemala and show the unsustainable links between economic activity, mining and human rights. The workshop on Wednesday will deal with ethical dilemmas in studying, researching and working with sustainability. The Interdisciplinary Dialogue as well as Per Berg's lecture, workshop on Thursday will deepen the understanding and practice of interdisciplinary work processes. Friday brings it all together in a text-focused Academic Debate.


Learning outcomes that starts week 37

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • define and evaluate ethical questions with relevance for sustainable development;
  • scientifically communicate in spoken and written form, within and between different scientific areas.

Course books

  • Öberg, Gunilla. (2011). Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies: A Primer. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Graff, Gerald. & Birkenstein, Cathy (2010). They say / I say: the moves that matter in academic writing. 2. ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
  • Hald, Matilda (ed.) (2011). Transcending Boundaries: How CEMUS is changing how we teach, meet and learn. Uppsala: Centrum för miljö- och utvecklingsstudier i Uppsala (CEMUS). Available online: download pdf

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Monday September 8


  • What is a university? What do you think education and research should do in the world?



Rider, Sharon, Hasselberg, Ylva & Waluszewski, Alexandra (red.) (2013). Transformations in Research, Higher Education and the Academic Market [Elektronisk resurs] : The Breakdown of Scientific Thought. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. www.ub.uu.se [2014-08-24].

Teaching and Learning at Uppsala University, read more and download: Pedagogical Programme at Uppsala Unversity (pdf).

Tuesday September 9


  • How could the Guatemalan situation be changed? What key leverage points for change do you see?



The Woman Who Breaks Mega-Dams - The Atlantic. 2014. The Woman Who Breaks Mega-Dams - The Atlantic. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/04/the-woman-who-fights-dams/361352/. [Accessed 07 September 2014].

Forget Shorter Showers | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine. 2014. Forget Shorter Showers | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4801/. [Accessed 07 September 2014].

Wednesday September 10

Study tools


  • What ethical dilemmas have you experience in study or work life?
  • What are the signifying differences between a disciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary in research?



Österbergh & Kronlid (2011). Crossing Boundaries – An Analytical Look at Cemus’ Educational Model. In Hald, Matilda (ed.) Transcending Boundaries. Uppsala: CEMUS.

Ekblom (n.d.), Society, Agency and the Environment: What We Can Learn from History. Available here: http://www.cemus.uu.se/dokument/CCL_2011/Ekblom_Article.pdf

Winder&Winder (2013), The Behavioural Ecology of Project-Based Science.  Sigtuna: Sigtunastiftelsen. Section 1 (especially pages 5-19). Available at:  http://www.sigtunastiftelsen.se/filer/Thebehaviouralecology.pdf

Thursday September 11

Slow science afterthoughts, out-of-the-box and out of of the outside-inside-box paradigm


  • How can your different academic backgrounds and disciplinary expertise as students in the course be utilized working with sustainability challenges?