Sustainability Science and Expertise: Sociological Perspectives
This course is from spring semester 2024 replacing SC2208 Social Science as Expertise and Social Scientists as Experts, 7.5 credits.
The course commences by introducing contemporary visions of social scientists as experts and alternative approaches within the sociology of expertise. The relevance and significance of these perspectives is then further discussed in relation to current developments within climate science and sustainability transitions research.
The visions of the social scientific expert highlighted in the course move beyond the so-called linear model of expertise through which autonomous science is tasked with speaking truth to power. In contrast to this model, expertise is recast in the course literature as something created through extended networks of analysis and deliberation stretching across the worlds of science and politics.
Turning to the issue of climate change, growing disaffection with the linear model of expertise is analysed in relation to the history of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and debates surrounding its configuration as an institution of science advice to government. This opens up for a discussion of the many and varied interactions between climate activism and scientific expertise shaping environmental policy and practice today. Attention will be paid, for example, to new forms of citizen and community science evidencing environmental risk and harm. On the other hand, the growing importance of expert activism and advocacy will be highlighted for redefining the relations of science and politics in the transdisciplinary fields of sustainability transitions research. Different combinations of expertise and activism will be related to the varying conceptions of justice shaping climate, energy and environmental transitions research which have created the challenge of coordinating and unifying the struggles for a so-called ‘just transition’.
Prerequisites and selection
To be eligible to the course 15 higher education credits in Sociology at the advanced level is required or the equivalent. For students registered before 2007-07-01 at least 80 credits in Sociology, Social Psychology or Criminology is required. English 6/English B or the equivalent level of an internationally recognized test, for example TOEFL.
Selection is based upon the number of credits from previous university studies, maximum 165 credits.
Teaching takes place in the premises of the Faculty of Social Sciences in the Haga district in central Gothenburg. Lectures and seminars within "Campus Haga" are held in the buildings Dragonen and Sappören (Sprängkullsgatan) as well as Husaren (Husargatan).