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Research stay Jeppe Læssøe at UGent’s Centre for Sustainable Development


From February – April 2018, SEDwise partner Jeppe Læssøe works as a visiting professor at the Centre for Sustainable Development at Ghent University. Jeppe talks about his plans in the following interview.

Hi Jeppe! Can you tell us a bit more about why you decided to come to Ghent for this research stay?

My 3 months stay here at CDO is partly motivated by a need for a longer period where I am free of all the normal daily duties and can fully focus on my research, and partly by the importance of doing so in an inspiring setting. With my research interest in the dynamics of socio-cultural change, and how sustainability change agent may cope with that in efforts to facilitate participation and social learning related to struggle for sustainable transitions, CDO was an obvious choice. Firstly, because Ghent is a dynamic city with many exciting efforts to promote sustainability transitions. Secondly, because UGent explicitly aims at promoting sustainability and for several years now has been working with its own sustainability transitions. I am curious to learn from this process and to get inspiration for current efforts to start up a similar process at my university. Thirdly, and most importantly, CDO fits perfectly to my research interest because of its interdisciplinary mix of social science and educational scholars. Furthermore, the centre is hosting and coordinating two international interdisciplinary networks, which I am part of, and which means that we already know each other and are part of joint processes.

What are your plans here?

During my stay, I will work on elaborating a piece of work, which I did together with Katrien Van Poeck and Thomas Block from CDO: An article on different types of change agents and their ways of approaching sustainability and public education. Here I find strong potentials for mutual inspiration between theories on socio-cultural change and theories on education and learning. Furthermore, I plan to dig deeper into the concept of sustainability which is widely used but also highly contested. An effort to expose essences, sharpen differences and acknowledge limitations is in my opinion needed in order to further develop theories on sustainability education. Finally, I also hope to have time to work on how the social sciences and humanities might leave their critical comfort zone by approaching, contributing to and qualifying utopian efforts as the other side of sustainability politics, although indeed open-ended and linked to continuing critical work.

How did you experience your visit so far?

It has been great to come to Ghent and start up at the centre. After the first weeks I feel well-settled and pleased with the combination of interesting conversations and time to work for myself. I have also already been to a seminar of the Transition UGent think-tank and I am looking forward to attend other seminars as well as lectures.


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