Photo: A. Löf/Azote


Urban Social-Ecological Systems Course (USES), 15 hp

Exploring the meaning and challenges of urban sustainability

Urban Social-Ecological Systems Course (USES), 15 hp

Exploring the meaning and challenges of urban sustainability

This course runs full time* between March and June each year. The course is an independent Masters level course and not part of the Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development Masters Programme at SRC.

Why take the course? Humanity faces a major sustainability challenge, and the ongoing rapid urbanisation is very much part of it. We need to take action, but what is the right direction? Ensuring the long-term well-being of urban residents and reducing urban pressure on global systems is a complex question where multiple considerations need to be weighed in – social and environmental justice, climate change adaptation, ecological integrity and cross boundary flows of resources and information, just to mention a few. Urban Social-Ecological Systems is a trans-disciplinary course where the complexities of cities are explored through a systems lens combining and integrating ecological, social and economic aspects. This lens allows you to ask hard questions like what does biodiversity have to do with citizens’ well-being? What is urban resilience? What changes of governance are needed to establish and maintain urban sustainable development trajectories?

The course recognises the value of plural perspectives and co-creation of knowledge, and our instructors represent both multiple academic disciplines and applied work in practice - Stockholm Resilience Centre has worked closely together with practitioners in the Stockholm Region as well as internationally for more than 15 years, developing ways and venues for turning knowledge into action. The lectures will provide state of the art knowledge about urban systems and indicate where the new frontiers are. Linkages between science and policy/practice are emphasized throughout the course and theory is explained in relation to practical examples of urban questions real world constraints.

In addition to theory and grounded examples of its application, the course will introduce a portfolio of different scientific methods, both quantitative and qualitative, that can be used to substantiate a systems based understanding of the city. Turning theory and methods into action research and problem-based learning is the focus of second part of the course where you will design run a field based project applying the theoretical frame and methodological approaches of the course in a real world context.

Admittance to the course requires knowledge equivalent to 180 credits, including a minimum of 75 credits in any of the disciplines Biology, Geography, History, Political science, Architecture and Urban Planning.

Please explore the course content further by reading the USES 2019 course syllabus and literature list (see links in "Read More" box). A detailed course syllabus for 2020 and required readings will be available four weeks before the course starting date.


Why take the course?

  • You will get a better understanding of the urban challenge
  • You will learn how to turn theory into action research
  • You will get a condensed experience of what transdisciplinary actually means
  • You will gain a better understanding of how different career pathways and how and where you could bring your knowledge, skills and expertise to bear
  • You will learn how to connect seemingly disparate issues and topics in a systems model


*) We strongly recommend that this course is not combined with other courses running parallel. The schedule is tight, and there are many mandatory seminars and exercises.

Apply for the course here

Questions? Contact us


Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B
SE-10691
Phone: +46 8 674 70 70
info@stockholmresilience.su.se

Organisation number: 202100-3062
VAT No: SE202100306201