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Interdisciplinary perspectives on technology and sustainable development, 6 ECTS credits

Syllabus approved:

Subject: Sustainability, energy systems, values thinking, complex systems

Cycle/Course level: 3 cycle/PhD course


Learning outcomes:

The aim of this course is to introduce basic concepts related to a sustainable development, value conflicts and systems thinking as related to complex adaptive systems.

After the course, the participants should know how to:

1.     Describe central concept of sustainable development, including planetary boundaries and all three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and ecological sustainability)

2.     Dramatize the underlying values of different "sustainable solutions" (e.g. strategies, technologies and policies)  through argumentation about them

3.     Describe central characteristics of Earth's climate system and climate change

4.     Demonstrate energy and material resource management with focus on critical materials and limited resources

5.     Describe defining characteristics and behaviour of complex systems

6.     Apply strategies for managing resources in a complex system

7.     Analyse social dynamics and values of climate and energy negotiation and decision-making

8.     Analyse dynamics in global planetary systems related to sustainability challenges

9.     Identify viable high-leverage sustainability solutions in the context of climate change.

10.  Assess values and dynamics in the PhD student's own research domain.

Course content:

The course consists of six modules related to the different course aims in the following way:

A.     Introduction to sustainable development & values thinking (learning goal 1 & 2)

B.     Climate Change (learning goal 3)

C.     Critical materials, energy resources and a circular economy (learning goal 4)

D.    Systems Thinking (learning goals 5 & 6)

E.     Sustainability negotiations in the context of energy systems and climate change. (learning goals 7, 8 & 9)

F.     Critical thinking (learning goal 10)

Teaching and course organization:

The course is organized in a flipped-classroom manner and centered around interactive seminars where participants play games, either online or physically in class, to learn through experiences about the topics of the course. In between seminars, there is online material for students to take part of.

Textbook and course materials:

Course material is provided through the online learning platform of Snowflake Education. The readings will come from scientific publications in several fields.


Hand-in assignments in preparation for and after each of the course modules.

Marking scale: Pass / Failed

Course leader/examinor:

Ola Leifler, IDA ola.leifler@liu.se

Additional teachers:

Danica Djuric Ilic, IEI

Christoffer Wadström, IEI

Anders Jidesjö, TEMA


March-June 2022

Responsible department:


Additional information:

The course is taught as an interdisciplinary course where three different departments offer perspectives and collaborate on giving the course. The course is developed based on material that is available in part from Snowflake Education, in part from material from the teachers of the course.


Page responsible: PhD Course Introduction to Sustainable Development
Last updated: 2021-12-20