SGO3200 – Innovation in Sustainability Transitions and Transformations

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Course content

To move towards a sustainable future, new types of innovation are called for – innovations that address the “grand challenges” while also taking into account the environmental and social consequences of new innovations. Can we innovate our way to a diverse, low-carbon, green society? This course will explore the relationship between innovation and the environment, including the potential to move toward a “green economy”. The role of both technological and social innovations in response to problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and land use change will be critically assessed.

The first module of the course presents the context for innovation in the 21st Century, providing the historical and scientific background of the serious environmental challenges facing society. Diverse perspectives will be presented on the role of new technologies and green innovations as a response to environmental problems.

The second module will introduce the major approaches to innovation studies. The institutionalization of innovation will also be discussed, with an emphasis on the role of learning, knowledge, and policy.

The third module looks at empirical studies of green innovations, including new energy technologies such as wind and solar power. New transportation technologies, “smart cities”, and innovations in the bio economy, including biomimicry, will be discussed.

Finally, the fourth module will critically assess the potentials and limits of innovations as a response to environmental problems, and discuss the role of social innovation in transformations to sustainability. The course will consist of ten lectures and four seminars. In the seminars, each student will choose an example of an innovation in Norway and assess it from the perspective of its environmental and social impacts, leading to a short paper and presentation. The literature will consist of both articles and book chapters. It is recommended that students have taken either SGO2301 Environment and Society/SOSGEO2301 Environment and Society or SGO2200 – Economic globalisation and regional development, or ideally both courses.

Learning outcome


  • A critical understanding of concepts and theories related to ecological modernization, innovation, and sustainability;
  • An understanding of new drivers of innovation in the context of global environmental challenges;
  • Recognition of the features and characteristics of both technological and social innovation;
  • An ability to assess the positive and negative social, economic and environmental aspects of innovation;
  • A critical understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with sustainable development.

Skills and Competencies

  • Ability to discuss diverse approaches to innovation;
  • Critical understandings of examples of contemporary innovation;
  • Capacity to carry out an in-depth case study;
  • Skills in presenting, critiquing and discussing research on innovation and sustainability.



Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


The course consists of both lectures and seminars. The lectures are based on the reading list, and will provide an overview of parts of the literature. You are expected to take part in and actively contribute to all of the seminars in order to meet the course requirements. A course paper is compulsory, and it is to be presented in the seminar. It is also compulsory to take the role of critiquing one of the other seminar papers. It is not possible to take the final exam without meeting the compulsory course requirements. Valid absence from seminars, such as illness etc., must be documented by a medical certificate.

Completed and approved compulsory course work is valid for 3 years.

Absence from compulsory tuition activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory tuition activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


Ordinarily, this course has a 6-hour written school exam.

For Spring 2020 the examination will be a 6-hour home examination in Inspera. The use of support materials under the exam is allowed.

Previous exams

Guidelines for writing a school exam (English)

Guidelines for writing a school exam (Norwegian)


Digital examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Ask for explanation of your grade in this course:

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language