Sustainability Transitions and Innovation

• Responsible institution; Western Norway University of Applied Science- HVL

• Course responsible: Lars Coenen (HVL & University of Oslo)

• Where: HVL, Bergen

• When: 22-26 August 2022

• 5 ECTS

• Faculty resources:

Teis Hansen (University of Copenhagen & SINTEF)

Lea Fünfschilling (Lund University)

Bernhard Truffer (EAWAG & Utrecht University)

Niki Frantzeskaki (Utrecht University)

Maria Tsouri (HVL)

Gesa Pflitsch (HVL)

Rune Njøs (HVL)

Svein Gunnar Sjøtun (HVL)

Lars Coenen

Course Description:

Fundamental transitions within societal sectors such as energy, transport, water and food are required to cope with sustainability challenges that are increasingly global (and urgent) in dimension. Such transitions presuppose the introduction, diffusion and adoption of green innovations of various kinds to ensure a shift to a more sustainable and environmentally sound society. Due to the specific, often wicked, characteristics of sustainability problems incremental change in existing systems is deemed insufficient. Sustainable transition research emphasizes the need for transformative change at a systemic level, encompassing wholesale changes in the modes of production and consumption of societal sectors. The development and implementation of innovations in sustainable transitions require transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches that do not only target single technology options or piecemeal fixes but also account for their co-evolving institutional, political, industrial and spatial contexts.

Learning Outcome

The course offers 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.

Upon completion of the course, the candidate:


  • will have knowledge of how to interpret and operationalise the concept of sustainability at different geographical scales and sectors and its imperatives for development;
  • will have advanced knowledge on transition pathways to foster sustainable modes of production and consumption in different societal sectors;
  • will be able to understand, operationalize and critically reflect on the main conceptual frameworks in transition theory, notably Technological Innovation Systems (TIS), the Multi Level Perspective on socio-technical transitions (MLP), Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and Transition Management (TM);
  • Will be able to understand and analyse the role of firms and industrial dynamics in sustainability transitions;
  • will be familiar with the spatialities of sustainability transitions and how geography influences such processes;
  • can contribute to the development of new interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral knowledge, theories, methods and their interpretations.


  • will understand and be able to explain the resource potential, technical properties, socio-economic challenges, and environmental impacts of future key technologies and solutions for sustainable development;
  • will be able to synthesize material from a broad range of relevant areas in addressing specific questions about the challenges of innovation in sustainability transitions;
  • can independently design research projects targeting a multifaceted evaluation of a prospective green technology or solution;
  • will be able to apply conceptual and theoretical arguments in discussion of the transition of industrial and societal systems and the geographical dimensions of such changes;

General competence

  • will understand the major topics, facts and issues related to sustainability transitions with respect to political, societal, and technological prospects and limitations, environmental considerations, as well as societal effects;
  • will have developed the skills needed to undertake independent research;
  • will be able to contribute with and reflect on new ideas that foster societal change towards a sustainable future; and
  • will be able to disseminate, articulate and discuss his/her own comprehensive, independent research, and utilize relevant scientific theory, concepts and terminology.

Entry requirements


Recommended previous knowledge


Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Student presentations (incl. Q&A) at the end of the course week that outlines the initial idea for the course paper.
  • Writing of a short research paper (<5,000 words) for an international conference.


The research paper is graded pass/fail by an internal committee.

Course application

Login – Søknadsweb (

(Application Deadline: June 16th)

More information


Date & Location

Start date: 22/08/2022
Date physical: 22-26 August 2022
Location: Western Norway University of Applied Science- HVL - Bergen