spring 2016
BED-8005 Innovation and Sustainability Transition - 7.5 ECTS

Last changed 07.04.2017

Application deadline

PhD students register for the course through StudentWeb.(Deadline; 1. february)

External applicants apply for admission through SøknadsWeb.(Deadline; 1. desember)

Type of course

Elective for students in business or other social science disciplines studying entrepreneurship and innovation for their PhD.
The course is offered as part of the Norwegian Research School in Innovation (NORSI), the PING track (program in innovation and growth).

Admission requirements

The course is open for candidates with a documented admission to a PhD program at all faculties at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway. PhD-candidates from other institutions are also welcome.

PhD students register for the course through StudentWeb.(Deadline; 1. february)

External applicants apply for admission through SøknadsWeb.(Deadline; 1. desember)

Contact Ingjerd Gauslaa Nilsen, email: ingjerd.nilsen@uit.no, phone +47 776 46018 at the BFE-faculty if you have troubles or questions regarding registration to the course.

Course content

The increasing emphasis on grand challenges related to climate change and environmental degradation is raising important new questions and avenues for research for scholars in innovation studies as well as policy makers. Attention for grand challenges has even found its way into EU`s new 2020 growth strategy which emphasizes the importance of "exploring new development paths to generate smart, sustainable and inclusive growth... Various long-term challenges such as globalization, pressure on natural resources and an ageing population are intensifying. If we are to adapt to this changing reality, Europe can no longer rely on `business as usual`" (European Commission 2013, p. 3).

In this debate, the burgeoning literature on sustainable transitions has made a substantial contribution in analyzing how technological change and innovation can contribute to the adaptation of societies and economies to more (environmentally) sustainable modes of production and consumption. Transition is here understood as shifts or "system innovations" between distinctive socio-technical configurations encompassing processes of technological change that co-evolve with changes in markets, user practices, policy and cultural discourses as well as governing institutions. Probably the most well-known and intensively studied empirical example is that of a low-carbon transition in fields of energy and transport. Popular analytical frameworks to study such sustainable transitions are the multi-level perspective on transitions (MLP) and the technological innovation system approach (TIS).

The aim for the course is to provide an introduction to the topic of innovation and sustainability transitions. Students will become familiar with the foundations of transitions research, its main conceptual and analytical frameworks as well as with current debates and knowledge gaps in the field of sustainability transitions. The course is designed to provide students with an opportunity to become familiar with different aspects of transitions research and to discuss this in relation to their own research projects.

During the course students participate in plenary sessions, smaller group sessions where they present and receive feedback on their own work, and contribute to the discussion of their peer students work. The plenary sessions will include questions and dialogue and there will be good opportunities for informal discussions among participants and faculty.

 Themes covered in the course include:

  • Foundations of transitions research
  • Main conceptual frameworks: technological innovation systems (TIS) and the multi-level perspective on socio-technical transitions (MLP)
  • Governance of sustainability transitions and grand challenge-driven innovation policy
  • Geographies of sustainability transitions
  • Sustainability transitions, innovation and industry dynamics: the role of new entrants and incumbents
  • Sustainability transitions and institutional change
  • Sustainability transitions in the Nordic Countries: empirical findings and ongoing research projects

Objectives of the course


  • Knowledge of research on transitions and innovation
  • Knowledge of how to use frameworks to analyze sustainability transitions and their governance challenges, the role of innovation, industrial dynamics and institutional change, geographical aspects



  • Be able to critically review and reflect on the literature on innovation and sustainability transitions
  • Be able to identify and analyze empirical examples of sustainability transitions

Language of instruction


Teaching methods

The course will use a combination of lectures; guest lectures from scholars that conduct research on sustainability transitions, discussion in smaller groups, presentations in plenary sessions.   

Duration: 14 March - 18 March 2015 (five full days). Programme March 2016


In order to meet the objectives of the course, each participant will be required to write a scientific paper. In order to pass the exam, each student will have to provide:


Pre-coursework - by the submission date indicated below, and according to instructions provided ahead of the course.

Participation - in all parts of the course.

Written scientific paper - by the submission date indicated below; subject will be provided during the course.


Evaluated with pass/fail. There will not be arranged a re-sit exam for this course.

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 7.5
  • Course code: BED-8005