Research projects


Antibiotic resistance and education: Scientific literacy and scaling, 2016 (SMED/TRUST)

Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is emerging as a significant sustainability challenge and one of the greatest threats to global health and having the potential of contributing to the breaking down of existing social and economic structures. ABR is a complex, multi-sectoral challenge.

Apart from the medical and epidemiological components, it has sociological, economic, ecologic and developmental dimensions. As such it could be understood as a wicked issue in the sense that the challenge of ABR will probably never be finally solved due to a high level of complexity but that it rather will need to be re-solved time and time again. In response to the ABR crisis, the World Health Assembly adopted a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance in 2015 (WHO, 2015).

Its first of five objectives calls for improved awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training. In creating awareness and developing responsible habits, education – formal and informal – is seen as crucial. Therefore the purpose of this interdisciplinary node is to (i) connect the competences on scientific literacy, scaling and education to create a platform for cooperation with researchers and educators on antibiotic resistance (ii) initiate this cooperation and make it sustainable over time, and (iii) create an arena, in cooperation with Uppsala Antibiotics Center (UAC), ReAct and Department of women’s and children’s health, for sharing knowledge between researchers, doctoral students, master students and educators on the topic of antibiotic resistance and education.

UAC was announced in 2015 to bring together, stimulate and support research addressing important questions regarding antibiotic resistance from all three disciplinary domains at UU: Medicine and Pharmacy, Science and Technology and Humanities and Social sciences.   (

Created in 2005, ReAct was one of the first international expert networks to articulate the complex nature of antibiotic resistance and its drivers. ReAct has members on five continents and advocates for the adoption of a holistic view of the problem of antibiotic resistance and solutions that engage all of society (

International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH) at the Department of Women’s and Children’s health is a leading multidisciplinary research and education centre at Uppsala University that works for improved global health with special emphasis on women’s and children’s health and implementation research ( The activities in the node will be done in connection to the work done at UAC.

The project is lead by Professor Leif Östman in cooperation with Associate professor David Kronlid.

Re-solve scaling research group, 2016- (TRUST)

As of 2016, SWEDESD, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Rhodes University’s Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) have formed an international scaling research group under the leadership of TRUST. The formation of this research group is a response to the increased international interest in scaling of ESD activities emerging from the UNESCO Global Action Programme. The aim of the conducted research is to perform critical and empirically informed studies of scaling of ESD, including philosophical understandings of “scaling”. The ambition is to contribute to the wider field of ESD research and scaling research with theory, method and analytical development.

The research activities are integrated with the development and use of the Re-Solve process tool. The scaling ESD research activities are integrated in several other ongoing research projects at SWEDESD including Sustainability Starts with Teachers, Developing Capacity for Teaching Sustainable Development in the Baltic Sea Region (EduBalt), Revisiting Regional Socio-Biophysical Transformation at Gotland (Re-Set), Transgressive Learning in Times of Climate Change (T-learning), ESD in Mongolia, Reducing Emissions by Turning Nutrients and Carbon into Benefits (RETURN) and Developing pedagogical program at Nobel Museum in Stockholm.

The research group is lead by Associate prof. David Kronlid (Uppsala University) in collaboration with Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitkas (Rhodes University).

Wicked problems and educative spaces for urban sustainability Transition, 2017-2020 (TRUST/SMED)

The aim is to explore theoretically and empirically how political spaces of urban sustainability transitions (UST) may function as educative spaces. Thereby, we strive for both progressing basic research and meeting societal demands. The first research objective is to advance knowledge on how new political spaces of USTs can function as creative educative spaces in view of exploring and creating new possibilities for a more sustainable future.

The second research objective is to strengthen the theoretical and empirical basis for further capacity development and innovation regarding how to design democratic educative spaces in view of governing USTs. The research questions are: How can insights from sustainability transition studies and political theories about governance in institutional voids be connected to pragmatist educational theory to develop a deepened understanding of political spaces as educative spaces?; How can UST initiatives foster creativity in view of visions and action perspectives for UST?; and How to prepare key actors for designing and facilitating creative UST initiatives in the face of wicked problems?

The project elaborates interdisciplinary theory combining Sustainability transition studies, Political theory on new arrangements of governance, and Pragmatist educational theory; combines practical epistemology analysis (PEA) and dramaturgical analysis; and contributes to theory development, education and policy scripts and stakeholder capacity building.

The project is lead in close collaboration with the Department of Political Sciences - Centre for Sustainable Development, Ghent University and the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent University. The project is directed by Associate prof. David Kronlid and participants are Prof. Leif Östman (Uppsala University), Prof. Thomas Block (Gent University), Dr. Katrien Van Poeck (Gent University).  Associate prof.  Michiel Dehaene (Gent University) and Dr. Eva Friman (Uppsala University).

Funded by
The Swedish research council FORMAS.


Scientific research network ‘Public pedagogy and sustainability challenges’, 2017-2021

 In this network, researchers (postdoc-level) at Ghent University (BE), University of Leuven (BE), Södertörn University (SE), University of Gdańsk (PO), Uppsala University (SE), Aarhus University (DK), Örebro University (SE) and Rhodes University (SA) share a scientific research interest in the relation between education and societal transformation. They want to deepen and widen our understanding of the public role of education in the face of sustainability challenges, nourish and facilitate further theoretical and empirical research and foster much-needed interdisciplinary collaboration of political theorists, educational theorists and sustainability education researchers.

Through the organisation of symposia, guest lectures and scientific collaboration the network will develop a theory of public pedagogy with a focus on sustainability challenges and address – both theoretically and empirically – questions such as: How can education play a democratic role in addressing sustainability challenges? What are vital conditions or obstacles to make this possible? What does this imply for designing sustainability education practices? What are the theoretical, methodological and empirical implications of researching sustainability education as public pedagogy? SMED (Uppsala University and Örebro University) was a co-applicant.

Funded by
Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)

Sustainability Education – Teaching and learning in the face of wicked socio-ecological problems’, 2016-2020 (TRUST/SMED)

This International Thematic Network (ITN) was established with the aim to conceptualise (theoretically) and develop (experimentally) adequate forms of teaching and learning in the face of sustainability issues. Often characterised as ‘wicked’ or ‘unstructured’ problems, complex sustainability issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, resource depletion, gentrification, etc. bring about major pedagogical challenges.

Further research and capacity building is required to support (university) educators who are often struggling with the implementation and conceptualisation of sustainability education. SEDwise engages with the frontiers of knowledge in the field of sustainability education research and fosters fruitful interactions between theory and practice.

By bringing UGent teachers who are strongly engaged in integrating sustainability in their education activities with a selected group of international sustainability education researchers, Ghent University serves as a 'living lab' for innovative experiments with sustainability education in varied curricula and courses. SEDwise develops diverse activities in the domains of education, research and services to society, e.g.: - pilot experiments aimed at integrating sustainability in university education in various fields - workshops and seminars for researchers and educators - in-service training for (university educators) and educational policy staff - summer schools for doctoral and master students - action research about integrating sustainability in university education in various fields - international conferences - projects of ‘community service learning’ - public lectures – etc.

UGent partners comes form from the Departments of: Political Sciences; European, Public and International Law; General economics; Agricultural economics; Architecture and urban planning; Industrial biological sciences; Flow, heat and combustion mechanics; Applied biosciences; Social work and social pedagogy.

The international partners comes from Rhodes University (South-Africa), Aarhus University (Denmark), University of Wageningen (Netherlands), Monash University (Australia) University of Cambridge (UK), University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and Universidade Estadual Paulista, (Brasil). From Sweden Uppsala University, Örebro University and Södertörn University participate. The network coordinator is Dr. Katrien Van Poeck (Department of Political sciences, Gent University). Associate professor David Kronlid and Eva Friman and Professor Leif Östman (Uppsala University) was co-applicants. 

Funded by
UGent – Internationalisation Policy.

Transgressive Learning in Times of Climate Change (T-learning) - A Transformative Knowledge Network, 2016-2018 (TRUST/SMED)

Contemporary educational research shows that learning can lead human development and societal transformations. The need for more radical forms of learning-centred transformation is increasingly recognised in the social-ecological sciences (SES). For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) reports that there is a strong need for learning-centred approaches to climate change adaptation.

Working with civil society, youth, academic, government and community partners, across nine countries in diverse areas that are vulnerable to arising impacts at the climate-energy-food-water security and social justice nexus, the aim of the project is to initiate, frame and investigate expansive, transgressive approaches to learning. The empirical investigations is focused on identifyung ‘germ cell’ activities for T-learning and examine how T-learning can initiate and expand sustainability transformations in selected community sites in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

The project is lead by Rhodes university in collaboration with SWEDESD. Other partners are Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Southern and Eastern Africa (Chancellor College; University of Malawi); Social Learning Innovations and Garden Africa (Zimbabwe); MELCA Ethiopia and the African Food Sovereignty Alliance (Ethiopia); Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Peace and Education for Sustainable Development (India); Centre for Research and Promotion of Education for Sustainable Development (CEREPROD), Hanoi National University of Education (Vietnam); UNESCO Chair of Transformative Learning at Wageningen University  and CASA, Colombia.

Funded by
International Social Science Council (ISSC).

Graduate School in Didactic Modelling and Analysis for Science Teachers, 2014-2017

This graduate school concerns science didactics for teachers and preschool teachers. The graduate school is based at the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University (SU), and the Department of Education, Uppsala University (UU). Science didactics entails the study of teaching and learning of the school subjects Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and integrated Science studies from preschool to upper secondary school.

This graduate school aims to support teachers professional, research based teaching of science. The emphasis is to bridge the gap between research and school development by enhancing teachers capacity for didactic analysis. Thus, the graduate school has the potential to strengthen the scientific attitude of teachers, enhance the quality of teaching and increase the knowledge base of schools and preschools for teaching science.

The graduate school accepted 10 licentiate teachers. These teachers do work half time in school and half time with research during four years. Furthermore, the teachers spend 10 percent of their school-based time leading local school development seminars. Coordinated by Prof. Per-Olov Wickman (SU) and the chair of the board is Prof. Leif Östman (Uppsala University).

Funded by
The Swedish Research Council.

Education for Sustainable Development for all in Mongolia, 2014-2020 (SMED/TRUST)

The project – Education for sustainable development for all in Mongolia – started in December 2014 and will continue until 2020. Although the traditional Mongolian way of living is sustainable, the Mongolia society faces many challenges, for example decertification and change of the nomadic culture and lifestyle. These challenges are approached in the project in line with the fact that no changes happen without people learning new knowledge, skills, values and habits. To make the learning efficient and systematic one need to stage education. Thus sustainable development starts with education!  The pivots for project is the following:

  1. It aims for mainstreaming sustainable development into the leadership as well as in the production and consumption in the whole Mongolian society;
  2. It uses education for sustainable development (ESD) as a booster for mainstreaming sustainable development in the Mongolians society, targeting the educational system, the civil society and the business;
  3. It systematically uses research-based models for implementing ESD into the three sectors of education, civil society and business.

The Tripple-Grip Approach ­(TGA) is the overarching model for the work in the project. This approach means that formal education, civil society and business are addressed at the same time in a coordinated and collaborative manner. Since it is well known that implementation of a reform, a strategy, etc. takes a long time this approach is used in order to boost the mainstreaming process.

TGA has not been used before in a nation-wide scaling up-project, which makes this project unique. The most common model in up-scaling is to work in accordance with the Silos-model: one project for school, another for civil society and a third for business, TGA is challenging because it requires careful coordination and creation of criss-cross activities between schools and local communities (adults, parents organisations and business) and between different national and local authorities.

Of special interest here becomes for example the possibility to create, at local levels (in all districts of Mongolia), a common platform for sustainable development, integrating the work at different local departments as well as creating collaboration between teachers, non-formal educators in the local community and business. Such collaboration gives many synergy effects: students will be involved in authentic change work in the local community; non-formal education will be able to use teachers and students in their outreach to adults; etc.

Central to ESD and one of the major component in TGA is that education is not only about facilitating the learning of knowledge and values, but also to help the learners to transform/translate this knowledge and values into concrete actions. Contextualisation and participation is the focus on a researched-based model that is used in the project. With this model, called LORET (Locally Relevant Themes), teachers can develop their teaching based on local sustainable issues and students active participation.

A consortium consisting of  SWEDESD, Institut für internationale Zusammenarbeit in Bildungsfragen (IZB) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) won the international tender launched by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Mongolian government. The project leader from SWEDESD is Professor Leif Östman in cooperation with Dr. Stefan Bengtsson, Dr. Shepherd Urenje, Dr. Lena Molin (all from Uppsala University) and Staffan Svanberg (Bosmina AB).

Program application: Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD), 2014-2017 (TRUST/SMED)

The purpose of the application was to get funding for SWEDESD an thereby to: 

  1. Suport capacity development regarding education for sustainable development (ESD) within organisations (and educators, researchers and decision makers within these organisations) in countries that are supported by Sweden.
  2. Support – in cooperation med selected partners on national, regional and global level – research and the design of fruitful educational programs and teaching methods for formal and informal ESD.

Author Associate professor David Kronlid (Uppsala University), co-author Professor Leif Östman (Uppsala University).

Funded by
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida.

Teaching and Learning Practical Embodied Knowledge, 2014-2017

Sweden has a strong tradition of research into practical knowledge and ”tacit knowledge”. A rapidly growing field within international educational research is “body pedagogics”, which gathers leading researchers in sociology, psychology and pedagogy interested in the embodiment of knowledge. Interestingly, this field has been largely neglected by didactical research focusing on the relationship between teaching and learning.

TALPEK is an inter-disciplinary research project focusing on institutional means, embodied experiences and learning outcomes in handicraft-oriented education (sloyd) and physical education and health (PEH). Drawing on body pedagogics developments in sociology, John Dewey’s embodied theory of learning and educational research about meaning-making and mobility the project contribute theoretical and methodological developments as well as empirical analyses to the field of education and embodied learning.

In the project a video-ethnographic fieldwork is conducted at a middle-sized secondary school. Two classes are followed from 7th to 9th grade in sloyd and PEH. The purpose is to generate knowledge about students’ practical embodied learning in these subjects: what they learn and how they acquire this knowledge. The focus is on the process and the product of teaching and learning, the role of the teacher for students’ learning and the interplay between teaching and learning. The results of the project will be used to initiate a common didactic language that can be used in subjects where practical knowledge is crucial.

The results of this research will then be transformed into in-service materials and tested by practising teachers in order to evaluate their potential for helping teachers to make important didactical choices when planning and realising their teaching.

The project is directed by Associate professor David Kronlid (University of Uppsala) and includes Professor Leif Östman at Uppsala University (responsible for methodological developments), Dr. Joacim Andersson at Uppsala University (responsible for fieldwork and empirical analyses), Professor Chris Shilling at the University of Kent, UK, (responsible for theoretical developments of body pedagogics) and Professor Jim Garrison at Virginia Tech, US, (responsible for philosophical groundings of embodied learning). 

Funded by
The Swedish Research Council.

Teaching Traditions and Learning. Comparative Didactic Analysis of Science Education and Physical Education and Health in Sweden, Switzerland and France”, 2013-2017

As research has shown there is a strong historical continuity in the way teachers teach and, therefore, teachers´ manner of teaching is not idiosyncratic. Despite the knowledge of the crucial importance that teaching has for students´ learning and despite the amount of energy and money spent on reforming teaching in different subjects, didactic research has not paid much attention to the connection between teaching traditions and learning. Therefore the purpose of the project is to identify teaching traditions – manners of teaching that many teachers use - within subjects and to analyse the pros and cons of each of the traditions regarding learning.

The results of this research will then be tested in use together with practicing teachers in order to evaluate their potential for helping teachers cope with important didactic choices in planning, realizing and evaluating their teaching. In order to maximize the research a comparative didactical approach is used, thus we will make i) investigations in four subjects - physics, chemistry, biology and physical education and health - in Sweden and ii) comparative investigations within these four subjects between Sweden, France and Switzerland iii) comparative investigation between these four subjects and between countries. Surveys and interviews of teacher as well as extensive video recordings of teaching and learning will be conducted.

Directed by Associate professor Jonas Almqvist in cooperation with Professor Leif Östman (Uppsala University). Professor Per-Olof Wickman (Stockholm University), Dr. Karim Hamza (Stockholm University), Dr. Malena Lidar (Uppsala University), Dr. Eva Lundqvist (Uppsala University) and Marie Öhman (Örebro University).

Funded by
The Swedish Research Council.

Grades and National Tests in Year 6: Potential Influence on Science Teaching, 2013-2017

The middle years of compulsory school faces a number of major changes. A new syllabus and new subject plans have been established and applies from the academic year 2011/2012. The parliament has also decided that grades should be marked from the 6th school year.

To support teachers in making fair, equal markings, national tests are introduced in more subjects and ages than before as of spring 2013. Some of the subjects that will have national tests are biology, physics and chemistry. In this project we investigate whether and if so in what way the introduction of grades and national tests in Science in grade 6 affects teachers´ perceptions of what constitute a "good" science instruction and teachers´ teaching and assessment practices.

The project is a longitudinal study over five years of the curriculum, the national tests and of teachers´ responses to the reforms. Surveys, interviews and classroom observations are used to collect data. The project uses a comparative approach in order to put the Swedish development in perspective. Empirical results is used to discuss and make comparisons between the Swedish and the English school systems regarding e.g. relations between policies, teachers´ views of "good" Science Education, and classroom practice, in relation to research on assessment and scientific education.

Directed by senior lecture Malena Lidar (Uppsala University) and in cooperation with Professor Leif Östman (Uppsala University), Associate professor Jonas Almqvist (Uppsala University, senior lecturer Eva Lundqvist (Uppsala University), Professor Jim Ryder (University of Leeds) and Professor Graham Orpwood (visiting fellow at University of London).

Funded by
The Swedish Research Council.

Nationell tests in geography, 2011-

The purpose of this project is develop national tests in geography and to develop support for assessment to teachers. This material is developed in close collaboration with researchers, teachers and pupils. The project leader is Associate Professor Lena Molin (se further

Funded by
The Swedish National Agency for Education.