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Ellinor Isgren

PhD Candidate - Member of LUCID Research School


My background is in Environmental science (B.Sc. Lund University) and Agricultural science (M.Sc. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp). I joined LUCSUS and LUCID as a PhD candidate in Sustainability Science in October 2013.

Current Research

I have long been interested in the intersection of sustainability, agriculture and development. When a majority of the population derive much of their livelihoods from farming, like in Uganda where my PhD research is situated, these three issues cannot be separated. The Ugandan government has shown a renewed interest in the agricultural sector as a key area for achieving broad based development. Through modernization of agriculture, the argument goes, productivity can be increased, and the rural population can be lifted out of poverty and leave farming for other sectors. But in many parts of the world, the modernization process has resulted in farming systems increasingly understood as deeply unsustainable. The socio-economic impacts are also highly questionable, especially when the proposed means of raising productivity exclude the poor and other sources of income are scarce. So while there are still strong arguments for seeking agricultural change, there is a need for rethinking agricultural modernization.

In recent years, a growing number of voices in academia, international development, and social movements have been saying that agroecology has the potential to “feed the world” sustainably and equitably.  What are the prospects for doing so in Uganda? Who is calling for it, how do they implement it, and what stands in the way of broader institutional support? These are the questions that drive my research, and I try to address them primarily by analyzing the activities, claims and experiences of civil society organizations working either with smallholder farmers or with political advocacy, or both. My thesis will elaborate on the meaning, merits and drawbacks of agroecology as a development approach for smallholder farmers, the structural barriers existing in the Ugandan context, and how those barriers might be overcome - focusing especially on the role of (often donor dependent) civil society actors as agents of change. Theoretically, I draw primarily on political ecology,  literature on socio-technical transitions, and theories on civil society.


I am involved in various LUMES courses, particularly Economy & Sustainability and Urban & Rural Systems. I also supervise LUMES students in thesis writing, have been engaged in the 'Social Science Labs' that runs throughout the first year of LUMES, and coordinate the course 'Sustainability Studies: Concepts, Challenges and Approaches' that LUCSUS offers to exchange students. In the past, I have taught in the Agroecology master's program at SLU Alnarp. 


Page Manager:
Ellinor Isgren
E-mail: ellinor [dot] isgren [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se

Doctoral student

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 46 222 16 93

+46 76 196 29 35

Wrangel, 205

Wrangel, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund


P.O. Box 170, SE-222 70 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se