I am a physical geographer and sustainability scientist, and my main interests are to develop interdisciplinary research approaches to understand complex sustainability challenges. My research so far has mainly studied drivers and effects of land use change in areas where land is acquired by foreign agribusinesses, focusing on how people are affecting – and affected by – changes in land and water availability. Land use change is driven by multiple interconnected societal and environmental processes, which act on different scales in time and space.
Across the world, poor and vulnerable communities experience escalating challenges associated with local manifestations of climate change, as well as pressures from the opening and closing of capitalist frontiers. My three-year postdoc project aims to support such communities’ agency in dealing with such pressures by developing novel approaches to co-create knowledge and facilitate communication of local sustainability challenges.
By combining participatory art and scenario thinking I will generate viable future scenarios, including a range of pathways for development. Tanzania constitutes a suitable context for such action-oriented research due to its economic development towards “jobless” large-scale agriculture, extractivism, and ecotourism. This type of development in the context of population growth, land-based livelihoods, and less available land, has enhanced inequalities and created new classes of landless and underemployed rural people increasingly vulnerable to environmental and economic shocks and stress. It is therefore important to identify local socio-economic and environmental challenges and interactions, and initiate discussions about how these challenges might develop under different socio-economic assumptions and scenarios. The ultimate purpose of using art in the scenario process is to create viable development pathways based on local concerns and aspirations, and as a communication tool for presenting challenges and opportunities under different futures.
The postdoc is conducted at the Department of Agricultural Extension and Community Development (DAECD), Sokoine University of Agriculture; the Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen; and at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), Lund University.
For my PhD thesis I applied mixed methods to analyze 'land grabbing' from a global to local scale. The global to continental scale of analysis is quantitative and relates to the global connectivity of land acquisitions and changes in water supply and demand, while the local studies are qualitative and use participatory art to understand local perceptions of socio-environmental change, and future aspirations for change.
Prior to the Post Doc, I was engaged in a research project where we estimated changes in terrestrial carbon in Cambodia. Cambodia is a country that is experiencing rapid and extensive deforestation that can be partly linked to land grabbing. We mapped the changes in carbon pools in space and through time, and also mapped where the carbon loss is virtually export
My teaching generally focuses on quantitative tools and methods related to geographies of change. But more recenty I have been the course coordinator for the LUMES course Earth Systems Science, which is a bridge beween key concepts in physical geography and how such knowledge is important for sustainability science. I have also held several lectures about participatory methods and the use of art. Below is a selection of courses that I have been teaching over the past 4 years.
Course coordinator for Earth Systems Science course in the LUMES programme, 2020
Spatial Analysis (Introduction to R, clustering, point patterns), 2017, 2019
Land surface processes and landscape dynamics (lecture about land grabbing, and exercise about land grabbing in Uganda), 2019
Geografisk informationsteknik (Vector analysis), 2019
Theory and methods in physical geography (introduction to Excel, System Modelling), 2019
GIS and climate change (online), 2019
Geographical Information Systems, Introduction (online), 2019
Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science: Concepts, Challenges and Approaches in Sustainability Studies (Big data and sustainability), 2018
Sustainability Science (Participatory research), 2018
LUMES Methods Seminars (Quantitative methods), 2018
I also have a particular interest of visualizing science as graphs, maps, paintings, and even stop-motion movies. A nice illustration is a good and efficient way to catch someone’s attention and communicate your scientific results. I am part time freelancing as a science illustrator, so if you need help with tables, charts, figures, maps, or other visualizations, don’t hesitate to contact me. www.emmalijohansson.com/illustrations
Displaying of publications. Sorted by year, then title.
(2020) Ambio: a Journal of Human Environment, 49 p.557-568
(2020) Environmental Research Letters, 15
(2019) Palgrave Studies in Natural Resource Management , p.199-211
- Harnessing local knowledge for scientific knowledge production : challenges and pitfalls within evidence-based sustainability studiesJohannes Persson, Emma Johansson, Lennart Olsson
(2018) Ecology and Society, 23
- Large-Scale Land Acquisitions as a Driver of Socio-Environmental Change : From the Pixel to the GlobeEmma Johansson
- Local perceptions of land-use change : Using participatory art to reveal direct and indirect socioenvironmental effects of land acquisitions in Kilombero Valley, TanzaniaEmma Johansson, Ellinor Isgren
(2017) Ecology and Society, 22
(2016) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 p.11471-11476
- Architecture of the global land acquisition system: applying the tools of network science to identify key vulnerabilitiesJonathan Seaquist, Emma Johansson, Kimberly Nicholas
(2014) Environmental Research Letters, 9