The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Research framework

At LUCSUS we create theoretically innovative and empirically rigorous knowledge to understand and explain pressing sustainability challenges.

We take an inter- and transdisciplinary approach to tackle complex sustainability challenges. We combine critical perspectives with problem-solving approaches - in collaboration with society, to make a difference for sustainable development.

How we do it

We are unique in the way that we use common approaches, methodologies and tools of assessment to better understand environment-development linkages. We focus on the perspective of justice, rights and development and policy in relation to integrating social and natural sciences.

Our research is characterised by:

  • An integration of natural and social science
  • Active participation by stakeholders such as small-holder farmers, policy makers at different levels, and non-governmental organisations
  • Collaboration with scholars from different disciplines and faculties both nationally and internationally.

Research themes

We have organised our research projects within five main research themes.

Key Concepts 

At LUCSUS, we apply, and depart from, a number of key concepts in our research, defined as follows:

  • Critical perspectives: critical research which aims to identify and overcome the limits of existing socio-economic conditions. 
  • Interdisciplinary research: research which draws on concepts and insights from two or more disciplines in order to explain complex phenomena. 
  • Problem solving approach: problem-solving research takes the world as it is and aims to maximise the effectiveness of social action within existing conditions.
  • Sustainability science: a relatively new problem-driven and solution-oriented field of interdisciplinary research broadly aimed at contributing to the global sustainability agenda.
  • Sustainability: a contested concept relating to the ideas and practices aimed at ensuring, within and between generations, the long-term viability of humanity and ecosystem integrity.
  • Sustainable development: the theory and practice related to addressing trade-offs between the need for human development and environmental conservation. 

LUCSUS research and the global goals


The research carried out at LUCSUS is in line with many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those of gender equality, reduced inequalities, zero hunger, sanitation and clean water, sustainable cities and communities, life on land, and climate action. The centre itself has a long standing research expertise in the area of climate change resilience, urbanisation and land use, governance and development.

Examples of research and projects closely related to the goals include work on sanitation, land use, energy justice, biofuels, climate adaptation, urban governance and loss and damage. Read more about our research and all our research projects