Sustainability, Performances, Evidence and Scenarios (SPES) – Citizens’ perspectives on the transition: Individual perceptions and collective interests (Nova)

We offer supervision to MA students who are interested in questions related to processes of societal and economic transition towards ecologically sustainable societies, in the Global South as well as in European countries. Students will have the opportunity to write their dissertation within the framework Sustainability Performances, Evidence and Scenarios (SPES). This is an international collaborative research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme. The project is coordinated by the University of Florence, Italy, and NOVA/OsloMet is one of twelve international partners, and responsible for facilitating co-design workshops in Norway.

About the project

By generating new knowledge about the nexus between economic growth, human flourishing and sustainability, the SPES project aims to create a novel integrated framework to foster the transition towards sustainable human development (SHD) in Europe. A core ambition is to provide policymakers with original concepts and evidence about past, present and future transition performances, as well as to propose new pathways to achieve SHD.

SPES focuses on the four pillars of sustainable human development, both theoretically and empirically:

  1. Productivity, defined as pursuing an efficient use of economic, human and natural resources through innovation processes;
  2. Equality for all, defined as fostering equal political, economic, social and cultural opportunities;
  3. Sustainability, defined as promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation and ensuring the protection, restoration and improvement of the environment;
  4. Participation and empowerment, defined as enabling citizens, social groups and communities to be active agents of their future.

NOVA/OsloMet leads the work package about Citizens’ perspectives on the transition: Individual perceptions and collective interests. This part of the SPES project aims to understand the drivers of public support for and opposition against transition trajectories towards more environmentally sustainable societies. Objective and perceived inequalities and unevenly shared costs of transition processes take centre stage.

The tasks in the work package rely on existing microlevel surveys of individual attitudes in different parts of the world. It also entails collection of primary data, through the organisation of co-design workshops in Norway, several other European countries, and three countries in the Global South. Co-design workshops will take place in autumn 2024.

Possible thesis questions

Depending on the specific thematic interests and methods skills of potential candidates, we envisage supervision of up to three dissertations, covering the following areas:

  1. Quantitative comparative analysis of individual perceptions or preferences linked to transition and sustainability related questions, based on cross-national attitude survey data. For instance, how do attitudes towards environmental sustainability and policy vary across groups with different socio-economic background among citizens in Europe and/or the Global South, and how have such attitudes changed over time? Potential data sources: European and World Value Surveys; International Social Survey Programme (ISSP). Part of the task could be to look for other suitable datasets from other regions/continents.
  2. The use of participatory methods, in particular co-design workshops, in the study of sustainability transitions. This topic would rely on review of relevant existing academic literature and critical reflections based on the hands-on experience of designing and implementing co-design workshops in the Norwegian context.
  3. A study of the nature of public support for and opposition against transition trajectories towards more environmentally sustainable societies in Norway. This topic should draw on the primary data collected in the Norwegian co-design workshops. In addition, ambitious candidates may adopt a mixed methods design, drawing also on micro level survey data for Norway.

Potential supervisors

Mi Ah Schoyen, NOVA

Therese Dokken, NOVA

Contact person

We encourage potentially interested students to contact Mi Ah Schoyen ( as soon as possible. You should submit a short outline (1-2 pages) of preliminary interests and ideas along with a brief CV by 15 March 2024.

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