Att bära världen på sina axlar. Miljövetares uppfattningar av och förhållningssätt till miljöproblem och sin profession

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The aim of the thesis is to investigate experiences of and ways of relating to environmental issues and towards their profession among a group of graduates in environmentla science. The respondents were either in the end of or had completed an educational program in Environmental sciences with a social science perspective offered at Malmö University. Those who hade completed the program have recently begun to work with environmental issues in different professional settings.
The methodology of the thesis is based in the phenomenological notion of intentionality. According to this line of thought, our consciousness is directed towards the world. This makes our experiences of the world accrue a certain content, which we then relate to.
These experiences will here be studied using a phenomenographic methodological approach. Within the phenomenographic approach, variations in people’s experiences of different phenomena are explored, in other words, qualitatively different ways of experiencing the same situation or phenomenon. Experiences are seen as possible to describe by means of verbal statements. These statements may in turn be considered analytically as expressions for different aspects of experiences of a phenomenon.
The interview material allowed for four distinct ways of experiening environmental problems and three distinct manners of relating to these environmental issues to be identified: approaching them as administrative and organisational problems, as lifestyle problems in a mass consumption society, or as global, moral and existential challenges.
Two groups could be distinguished in the material: those that concerned conceptions of practice in their own profession and those that concerned conceptions of their own professional identity. Lastly, the following manners of relating to the profession could be identified in the interview material with regard to ways of exeriencing the profession: a profession where it is necessary to deal with existential issues; a profession where it is important not to come across as being extreme; and finally, a profession that is part of an inevitable societal change.
Starting in the experiences and approaches identified above, three abstract professional scenes could be described. These scenes constitute different descriptions of fields of potentiality that frame the experiences and approaches in the interview material. The scences are the administrative and organisational scene; the scene for educating and informing individuals; as well as the scene for ‘environmental sermons’.
The profession the graduates’ in this study were striving to acquire could be described as comprising two levels: a global and a local level. A professional environmentalist could therefore see him/herself as more or less competent to deal with environmental issues in different professional practices depending on which level was related to. Within the two levels, environmental problems were formulated starting in different point of departure, which in turn meant that different types of solutions could be formulated. At a global level, problem formulation was based on scientific knowledge and general policy discussions. At a local level, the problem formulation was based in the established norms, traditions and routines of local practice. A graduate in Environmental Science may therefore perceive his/her mission as ‘bringing down’ global problem formulations into a local practice. Graduates in Environmental Science need to develop a reflexive attitude, and become aware of their own view of the causes of and possible solutions to environmental problems.


  • Magnus Johansson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Educational Sciences


  • environmental education, professional competence, phenomenology, higher education, phenomenographic research, education for sustainable development
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2008 May 16
  • Department of Education, Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-628-7447-6
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2008-05-16 Time: 13:00 Place: Språk och litteraturcentrums hörsal External reviewer(s) Name: Östman, Leif Title: Professor Affiliation: Institutionen för didaktik, Uppsala universitet ---

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