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Undergraduate course

Geographies of transformation: mitigating and adapting to rapid climate change

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeGEO283
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester


Objectives and Content


The course presents the state of the art in critical research on challenges and possible solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation. The course presents alternative theoretical and methodological approaches within the field of environmental geography for assessing pathways for decarbonization, reversing ecological degradation, and social fragmentation alongside the role of scale in transformations of societies and landscapes engendered by anthropogenic climate change.  


Climate mitigation and adaptation are urgent areas of inquiry as social movements and policy makers seek to address rapid climate change. The field of geography is well situated to inform debates about the relationships between human and natural systems and has been on the forefront of climate research. This course will present approaches and methods within environmental geography to climate mitigation and adaptation and conflicting narratives about the best way forward. Key themes include emissions accounting practices, trade-offs in resource management, land grabbing/ green grabbing practices, land use and landscape changes, Nature v. ecology, risk management, energy transformations, connection to place and the role of local people and groups. Adaptation is analyzed from the preconditions of adaptation, decision making processes and institutions, and to adaptation outcomes. Within the scholarship on climate adaptation, overlapping frameworks can be identified; we will draw from contemporary critical theories to evaluate them. The course will also provide an overview of relevant qualitative methods and quantitative approaches applied to climate actions and discuss their potentials and limitations. The course will give opportunities for students to compare and discuss contemporary debates to develop skills in critical thought as well as better understand the challenges climate change poses, the role of uncertainty in adaptation policies and alternative possible futures, such as post-development and decolonial post-growth. Lectures will address global issues through situated cases and their relations to other places across the global north and south with a particular focus on current climate adaptation efforts and debates in Norway.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence: 


The student 

  • can provide a basic overview of some central geographical approaches to climate adaptation at scales ranging from individual to local to global. 
  • can outline and discuss contested pathways to decarbonization, reversing ecological depletions and social fragmentation as forms of just climate adaptation  
  • can outline and discuss a multiplicity of pathways for alternative futures
  • can discuss contemporary debates about adaptation using concepts in the literature and examples from specific cases 
  • can elaborate on the role of research and uncertainty in climate adaptation policy 


The student 

  • is able to use relevant theory in the analysis of empirical cases.
  • can select and critically assess methodological choices for empirical work
  • can communicate complex thoughts through academic discourse
  • can synthesize and evaluate various readings in group discussions.

General competence 

The student 

  • has acquired theoretical knowledge and insight into contemporary debates about climate adaptation, and can apply place, space and scale as concepts to analyze challenges and alternative responses to climate change. 

Required Previous Knowledge


Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap


Access to the Course

Open for all students at the Univesity of Bergen

Teaching and learning methods

1-2 lectures á 2 hours pr. Week. Lectures will contain a joint introduction followed by group activities.  

Total: 12-14 lectures

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Compulsory short reading reflections and discussion comments, at least 6 of 8, to be written in the online platform for the course on Mitt UiB. In addition there is a compulsory short essay. These activities must be approved before the take home exam

Forms of Assessment

Take home exam, 3 days (3000 words (+/- 500).

Grading Scale


Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester. New exam the following semester only for students who have a valid document of absence.

Reading List

The reading list will be ready before 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. 

Course Evaluation

All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  

Course Coordinator

Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB. 

Course Administrator

Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB. 

Exam information