University of Oulu 4.-5.11.2021

PhD Course – (Re)Searching for sustainable solutions

(Re)Searching for sustainable solutions PhD course (2 ECTS) is organized in November 1st–3rd at Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu. The course is targeted to doctoral students from geography and other related fields.

Course description

Current public discourse is characterized by various societal and environmental crises and challenges, and by headlines calling for solutions to these. This PhD course seeks to give the participants insight into the potential that their own research offers to solving current societal and environmental challenges. The course will help the participants to identify lessons learned from their own research and understand the importance of both critical research and research searching solutions, and how to combine the two. In order to provide insights into these questions and aims, established scholars will present what methodologies they use to increase the potential of their own research in providing solutions to current societal or environmental challenges. We have invited them also to reflect on their own experiences in combining critical research with research that seeks to identify solutions in their engagements with society, nature and environment. Through lectures, discussions, peer learning and workshop and conference participation, the participants will get a better understanding, and co-create knowledge, of the methodologies that will help them to reflect on their own research through the lens of finding solutions, with the aim of moving beyond ‘understanding’ issues at hand.

Course outline

The course will last for five days and consist of three sections:

  • An intensive seminar (from Monday afternoon to Wednesday morning)
  • Workshop participation (Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning) [more info coming]
  • Annual Meeting of Finnish Geographers participation (Thursday and Friday) [more info coming]

During the seminar, the participants will hear presentations and panel discussions, share their experiences and discuss strengths and weaknesses of presented approaches. Each participant will choose and participate at least in one of the conference workshops (more info coming). The course participants will follow the conference both on Thursday and Friday.


University Lecturer Richard Powell, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. His research interests encompass historical and cultural geographies, the geopolitics of territory and resources, geographies of science, and the histories of the social and natural sciences. His fieldwork has focused on the Circumpolar Arctic as well as Denmark, Canada, the US and the UK. []

Associate Professor Hilde Refstie, Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Refstie conducts research at the interface between academia and practice using participatory methods and action research with focus on urban governance, citizenship and marginalized groups in the city, and forced migration in conflicts and disasters. [Homepage]

Professor Päivi Lujala, Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu. Lujala conducts research that seeks to enhance citizen engagement in natural resource governance and examines how attitudes toward internal climate migrants form and evolve, and whether and how the attitudes can be influenced to ease resettlement processes. [Homepage]

Professor Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola, Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu. Prokkola conducts research on national and transnational (Nordic, EU) regional policies and development with a particular focus on cross-border areas and the governance of mobilities (labour migration, forced migration and tourism). She is currently examining the social resilience processes of border regions and communities with regards to different mobility shifts. [Homepage]

Senior Lecturer Kaarina Tervo-Kankare (sustainable tourism), Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu. Tervo-Kankare is engaged in research that searches tools for increasing both sustainability and sustainable practices in tourism, also from the perspective of climate change, and commitment of diverse stakeholders in these processes. [Homepage]

Course requirements

A reflection note based on own research and the course seminar, workshop and conference participation (max. 2000 words) and a presentation either at the conference or at the seminar. The course convenor together with relevant staff at the Geography Research Unit will read and assess the notes as approved/not approved.

Reading list

All lecturers will suggest a reading list relevant for their lectures and talks – the literature represents a rich body of general and more specific readings and should be used as a guide for the doctoral students in preparing for the course. It is expected that the participants in advance of the course have made themselves familiar with the literature to be able to actively participate in the discussions following the lectures and presentations.

Teaching language



There is no course fee. Students will be responsible of their own travels, accommodation and living in Oulu during the course. Maximum participation will be 20 doctoral students.

More information

Päivi Lujala, paivi.lujala (at)

Deadline for registration

September 30th to Päivi Lujala, paivi.lujala (at)