Governance and social systems – University of Copenhagen

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Governance and Social Systems

An essential aspect of dealing with sustainability issues, governance deals with authorities, regimes and communities involved in the administration of the Earth’s resources, and how the laws, norms and values that ensure sustainability are produced. Sustainability governance is multi-scalar; ranging from managing local water sources in rural communities to negotiating global carbon emission reductions in the UN.

In a globalised world, not only nation states do “governing”. Also regional and local governments, social movements, NGO’s, universities, businesses, intergovernmental organisations and national and transnational networks take part in defining our ways of governing the Earth. Science, then, has to deal with these actors, their complex interactions and their attempt at governing in order to help us decide how to effectively deal with sustainability issues. This also implies studies of power relations and democratic legitimacy.

Governance is interdependent on the social system upon which it acts. People's perceptions, cultural heritage and social norms regarding sustainability issues feed into local governance and can provide challenges on global governance scale as 'one size does not fit all'. Furthermore, decisions to promote sustainability may lead to benefits or risks to public health, which needs to be taken into consideration. 

Relevant research activites at the University of Copenhagen

The Section of Environmental Health at the Department of Public Health generates new knowledge and awareness of the importance of the environment for public health.
The Section of Global Health at the Department of Public Health takes an interdisciplinary approach to global health, and covers a wide range of topics including environmental health, disaster and emergency health, and health care delivery in low-income societies.
The Section for Global Development at the Department of Food and Resource Economics engages in inter-disciplinary research on economic, political, environmental, and institutional dynamics in developing countries. Research areas include issues of livelihoods, small-scale industry, trade, and labour; of climate change mitigation and adaptation; of forest and natural resource management; of resource conflicts and land grabbing; and of governance, state formation, and corruption.
The Centre for Advanced Security Theory (CAST) at the Department of Political Science addresses how current practices of security shape and are shaped by past international security orders, power politics and processes of globalization.
The Centre for Enterprise Liability (CEVIA) at the Faculty of Law elucidates the interplay between the public law and private law rules and perspectives in relation to enterprise liability. As private enterprises grow ever larger and increasingly take over the supply of services, they get an important societal role as market actors. Following centralization trends, public authorities have also expanded continuously and act increasingly as market players.

The Centre of African Studies (CAS) at the Faculty of Theology revolves around three thematically distinct yet interconnected research platforms: Sovereignties and Citizenship; Religion, State and Society; Environment and Change.

Changing Disasters is an interdisciplinary research project embracing all six Faculties of UCPH. The project investigates modern societies' interactions with disasters. The project is organised in three thematic clusters that cut across the traditional grid of scientific disciplines in 3 thematic clusters: Imaginations, Interventions and Transformations.

Landscape Futures is a nationwide action research program. The aim is to improve and develop rural landscape planning in Denmark, so the planning and policy fit more appropriately to the increasing and more complex demands and use of the landscape.

Centre for Energy, Environment and Health (CEEH) is a collaboration between scientists from different research fields, with the mission to develop a system to support planning of future energy systems in Denmark, where both direct and indirect costs related to environment, climate and health are considered.

Natural Goods? Processing Raw Materials in Global Times is a research project which generates a comparative ethnography of natural resources. Combining ethnology, anthropology and cultural history, the project explores how people across different times and places process specific and widely distributed raw materials.

The Arctic Politics research group shares a research interest in the political developments in the Arctic. The overall aim is to create a platform to discuss current and future Arctic research projects and papers. The group consist of researchers applying a variety of approaches and relating to a series of sub-disciplines.

Previous projects

Some projects have ended, but the knowledge is still present at the University of Copenhagen. The researchers are adding to this knowledge as they continue their work on other projects.

The Citizen Driven Environmental Action Project (CIDEA) investigates how to involve citizens in immediate action against climate change. The research focus is on behavioural factors determining how Danish citizens get environmental information through their local communities. Also, the research aims at developing new IT-based solutions which enables the municipalities to inform, motivate and activate citizens in terms of enery savings and reduced private transport. Contact 
Waterworlds; a research project at the Department of Anthropology. The ambition: to study local, social responses to environmental disasters related to water, as spurred by the melting of ice in the Arctic and in other glacier areas, the rising of seas that flood islands and coastal communities, and the drying of lands accelerating desertification in large parts of Africa and elsewhere.
The Nordic Environmental Law, Governance & Science Network (NELN+) combined law, political science and natural science in the search for adequate regulatory responses to environmental problems, including climate change issues. The network promoted high level research training and research co-operation.

shares a research interest in the political developments in the Arctic. The overall aim is to create a platform to discuss current and future Arctic research projects and papers.