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Engaging critically with environmental governance practices

In this course, students will learn how to investigate, assess, and reflect on environmental governance practices. For this, the course creates a solid theoretical and methodological basis, which is applied in a real-world project concerning an ongoing environmental governance practice. Based on their critical engagement, students are encouraged to suggest contributions to this practice.

Information from the course leader

17 March 2023

Dear Students,

the course starts next week and we are quite excited! We hope to publish the Canvas page latest on Tuesday.

We will start the course on Thursday, 23 March at 9.00 in Room Z, Ulls Hus.

The course officially starts on Wednesday, so we kindly encourage you to spend some time during the first course week to watch the following two films to familiarise yourself with what concepts and contexts governance may deal with: Film 1: // Film 2: — We will draw upon and discuss parts of the film during literature workshops and possibly lectures.

If you do not intend to take this course anymore for whatever reason, please do reject the offer for your study place as soon as possible. There are many students on the waiting list! Thanks!

Best wishes from your teacher team!


3 Mar 2023: Update to the schedule: a new session on collaborative writing; 24 April, 12.00–13.30, online.

8 Feb 2023: Small updates to the schedule. Timewise, the only relevant one is moving the session on Peer Feedback from 17 to 15 May.


Dear Students,

the timetable is now available. Note that the course includes a mandatory field trip (including related project work) which is scheduled to 19 Apr morning to 21 Apr evening, including overnight stays in Dalarna. Travel and accommodation will be provided free of charge, but you will have to pay for your own food.

If you cannot attend the field trip this year, you will have to compensate for it next year (for details, see Section 8.5 in the Education Handbook). If you have caring responsibilities, please arrange for your absence or let us know as soon as possible if you would like to bring e.g. your child and another parent with you and we will see if that can be possible to arrange (you will have to pay for the extra costs in this case).

If you have any questions until we start the course, please email the course responsible (Malte). The course schema will roughly stay as it is; updates will be posted in the schedule and we will make announcements about them if necessary.

All the best,

your teacher team

Course evaluation

The course evaluation is open

Please fill in the evaluation form

You have until 2023-06-18

Syllabus and other information


MX0157 Engaging critically with environmental governance practices, 15.0 Credits

Att förstå samhällets miljöstyrning utifrån ett kritiskt konstruktivt förhållningssätt


Environmental Science

Education cycle

Master’s level


Title Credits Code
Theory and methods for critical engagement 5.0 0001
Group project work on environmental governance practices 5.0 0002
Individual research project 5.0 0003

Advanced study in the main field

Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirementsMaster’s level (A1N)

Grading scale

5:Pass with Distinction, 4:Pass with Credit, 3:Pass, U:Fail The requirements for attaining different grades are described in the course assessment criteria which are contained in a supplement to the course syllabus. Current information on assessment criteria shall be made available at the start of the course.



Prior knowledge

Knowledge equivalent to English 6 from upper secondary school.

Knowledge equivalent to 180 credits including specialised studies comprising 90 credits within a single subject (e.g. Biology or Economics) within one of the following disciplinary domains:

- natural science

- technology

- social sciences. (e.g. sociology, psychology, economics, political science, human geography, media)


Communication is crucial for environmental governance practices. These practices include, among others, managing natural resources, organising collective action, coordinating multi-stakeholder initiatives, and creating arenas for public deliberation. The aim of this course is to develop in depth insights into how environmental governance is carried out in practice. In order to understand environmental governance students critically engage with ongoing governance practices, i.e. they carry out a theoretically based investigation for assessing and suggesting improvements to their case, while interacting with environmental governance actors such as citizens, professionals and organisations. In this course, students will develop their knowledge on a number of social constructionist theories. They will also improve their facilitation skills and refine their ability to collect and analyse empirical data in a way that is useful for both research and practice.

After completion of the course the student will be able to:

- describe different theoretical perspectives suitable to critically understand environmental governance in practice;

- describe qualitative research methods that can be used to investigate and assess an ongoing environmental governance practice;

- apply different theoretical perspectives to critically reflect on and contribute to an ongoing environmental governance practice;

- prepare and facilitate activities where they can learn together with other actors, and jointly reflect on results and potential implications of an investigative project.


The course has two main components; a theoretical and an experiential/practical component. In the theoretical component, theories relevant to environmental governance, for example social practice, discourses, symbolic interactionism, power or framing, are presented, discussed and applied through lectures, literature studies, seminars and experience-based workshops. Qualitative research methods for example interviews, focus groups and participant observations, including analysis of empirical material through coding are also presented and discussed. The theoretical component of the course is finished with an assessment of the students’ understanding. Active participation in the workshops of the theoretical component is mandatory.

In the experiential/practical component, students conduct an investigative project of an ongoing environmental governance practice or case (e.g. the municipal management of water bodies, the coordination of actions by grassroots organisations, or the mediation of conflicts between multiple stakeholders) from Sweden or other countries. As part of their investigative project, students critically engage with their selected case: they apply the introduced research methods and theories to collect and analyse empirical data; they report on the results of the investigative project and present them to relevant actors in a learning activity (e.g. workshop, seminar or webinar) that students design and facilitate. It is expected that the results of the investigative project will include some kind of assessment of the studied practice as well as suggestions for improving it. Throughout the process of the investigative project, students interact with governance actors involved in their case. Active participation in all activities of the investigative project is mandatory.

Formats and requirements for examination

Students are examined in relation to both theoretical and practical course components.

Examination through:

- home-exam;

- report on project work.

Requirements to pass the course are:

- passed home-exam;

- passed report on project work;

- active participation in mandatory workshops;

- active participation in activities of the project. If a student fails a test, the examiner may give the student a supplementary assignment, provided this is possible and there is reason to do so.

If a student has been granted targeted study support because of a disability, the examiner has the right to offer the student an adapted test, or provide an alternative form of assessment.

If this course is discontinued, SLU will decide on transitional provisions for the examination of students admitted under this syllabus who have not yet been awarded a Pass grade.

For the assessment an independent project (degree project), the examiner may also allow a student to add supplemental information after  the deadline for submission.  For more information, please refer to the Education Planning and Administration Handbook.
  • If the student fails a test, the examiner may give the student a supplementary assignment, provided this is possible and there is reason to do so.
  • If the student has been granted special educational support because of a disability, the examiner has the right to offer the student an adapted test, or provide an alternative assessment.
  • If changes are made to this course syllabus, or if the course is closed, SLU shall decide on transitional rules for examination of students admitted under this syllabus but who have not yet passed the course.
  • For the examination of a degree project (independent project), the examiner may also allow the student to add supplemental information after the deadline. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Other information

The right to take part in teaching and/or supervision only applies to the course instance which the student has been admitted to and registered on.

If there are special reasons, the student may take part in course components that require compulsory attendance at a later date. For more information, please refer to the Education Planning and Administration Handbook.

Responsible department

Department of Urban and Rural Development

Further information

Determined by: Programnämnden för utbildning inom naturresurser och jordbruk (PN - NJ)
Replaces: MX0116, MX0149

Grading criteria

There are no Grading criteria posted for this course

Litterature list

All readings are available on Canvas. Supplementary readings for eager readers are marked as such. Even though you will not be able to read all readings in high detail for the literature seminars, you are expected to read all non-supplementary readings by the end of the course. Readings will be discussed via *Canvas *and during scheduled literature workshops.

Connelly S, Richardson, T., & Miles, T. (2006). Situated legitimacy: Deliberative arenas and the new rural governance. Journal of Rural Studies 22(3), 267–277.

Lemos, M. C., & Agrawal, A. (2006). Environmental Governance. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 31(1), 297–325.

Van der Molen, F. (2018). How knowledge enables governance: The coproduction of environmental governance capacity. *Environmental Science and Policy, *87, 18–25.


Fischer, A., Spekkink, W., Polzin, C., Díaz-Ayude, A., Brizi, A., Macsinga, I. (2018). Social representations of governance for change towards sustainability: perspectives of sustainability advocates. Environmental Politics, 27(4), 621-643.

Boström, M., Uggla, Y. & Hansson, V. (2018). Environmental representatives: whom, what, and how are they representing?, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 20(1), 114–127.

Guasti, P. & Geissel, B. (2019) Saward’s Concept of the Representative Claim Revisited: An Empirical Perspective. Politics and Governance, 7(3), 98–111 (just focus on the application part, no need to read the contextual part of the paper)

Lidskog, R., & Sundqvist, G. (2018). Environmental Expertise. In Boström, M. & Davidson, D.J. (Eds.), *Environment and Society: Concepts and Challenges *(pp. 167–186). Springer.

Moran, L., & Rau, H. 2014. Mapping divergent concepts of sustainability: lay knowledge, local practices and environmental governance. Local Environment, 21(3), 334–360

O’Neill, J. (2001). Representing People, Representing Nature, Representing the World. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 19(4), 483–500.


Sarkki, S., Heikkinen, H. I., & Löf, A. (2021). Reindeer Herders as Stakeholders or Rights-Holders? Introducing a Social Equity-Based Conceptualization Relevant for Indigenous and Local Communities. In Nordic Perspectives on the Responsible Development of the Arctic: Pathways to Action (pp. 271-292). Springer.

Schneider, T., Eli, K., McLennan, A., Dolan, C., Lezaun, J., & Ulijaszek, S. (2019). Governance by campaign: The co-constitution of food issues, publics and expertise through new information and communication technologies.* Information, Communication & Society*, 22(2), 172-192.

Wysocki, J. (2012). The environment has no standing in environmental governance. Organization & Environment, 25(1), 25-38.

Theory: Frame Analysis

Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. *Journal of Communication, *43(4), 51–58.

Hulst, M. van, & Yanow, D. (2016). From Policy “Frames” to “Framing” Theorizing a More Dynamic, Political Approach. The American Review of Public Administration 46(1), 92–112.

Lindekilde, L. (2014). Discourse and Frame Analysis. In-Depth Analysis of Qualitative Data in Social Movement Research. In Della Porta, D. (Ed.) Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research, pp. 195–227. Oxford University Press.

Müller, W., & Kruse, S. (2021). Modes of drought climatization: A frame analysis of drought problematization in Germany across policy fields. Environmental Policy and Governance, 31(5), 546–559.


Möckel, F. (2020). The Crucial Role of the Facilitator: Analysing Identity Construction and Dilemmas. Master‘s thesis. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.

Westin, M. (2019). Rethinking power in participatory planning: towards reflective practice. Doctoral thesis. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala. Chapter 3.2–3.3, pp.49–66.

Arts, B., Behagel, J., Turnhout, E., de Koning, J., & van Bommel, S. (2014). A practice based approach to Forest governance. Forest Policy and Economics, 14: 4–11.

Nicolini, D. (2017). Practice Theory as a package of Theory, Method and Vocabulary: Affordances and Limitations. In Jonas, M., Littig, B., & Wroblewski, A. (Eds.), Methodological reflections on practice oriented theories, pp. 19–34. Springer.

Omer, Y., & Roberts, T. (2022). A novel methodology applying practice theory in pro-environmental organisational change research: Examples of energy use and waste in healthcare. Journal of Cleaner Production, 130542.

Shove, E., Pantzar, M., & Watson, M. (2012). The Dynamics of Social Practice: Everyday Life and how it Changes. Sage. Ch. 2 “Making and Breaking Links”.

Webb, J., & Tarleton, B. (2018). Getting things changed: Social practices booklet. Bristol. Retrieved from:

Westberg, L., Waldenström, C. (2016). How can we ever create participation when we are the ones who decide? On natural resource management practice and its readiness for change. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 19(6), 654-667.


Beuger, C. (2014). Pathways to practice: praxiography and international politics. European Political Science Review, 6(1), 383–406.

Feldman, M.S., & Orlikowski, W.J. (2011). Theorizing Practice and Practicing Theory. Organization Science, 22(5), 1240–1253.

Researching Environmental Governance (Supplementary Readings)

Research Project

Crang, M., & Cook, I. (2007). Doing ethnographies. Sage. In particular: section 1 getting ready (pp 15–35); section 2 constructing ethnographic information, chapter 5: interviewing (pp 57–81).

Harvard Sociology (n.d.) Strategies for qualitative Interviews. 4p. Retrieved from:

Leech, B. L. (2002). Asking questions: Techniques for semistructured interviews. PS: Political science and politics, 35(4), 665–668.

Bertolini L, Laws D, Higgins M, et al. (2010) Reflection-in-action, still engaging the professional? Planning Theory & Practice, 11(4), 597–619.

Westin, M. (2019). Rethinking power in participatory planning: towards reflective practice. Doctoral thesis. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala. Chapter 2.3, p.30–33.

Westin, M., Calderon, C., & Hellquist, A. (2014). The Inquiry Based Approach: A facilitator’s handbook. Visby: SWEDESD.

Writing a Research Paper

Nair, P. K. R., & Nair, V. D. (2014). Organization of a Research Paper: The IMRAD Format. In P. K. R. Nair & V. D. Nair (Eds.), Scientific Writing and Communication in Agriculture and Natural Resources (pp. 13–25). Springer.

Course facts

The course is offered as an independent course: Yes The course is offered as a programme course: EnvEuro - European Master in Environmental Science Environmental Communication and Management - Master's Programme Tuition fee: Tuition fee only for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens: 38060 SEK Cycle: Master’s level (A1N)
Subject: Environmental Science
Course code: MX0157 Application code: SLU-40121 Location: Uppsala Distance course: No Language: English Responsible department: Department of Urban and Rural Development Pace: 100%