Category: Sverker C. Jagers

Posts about Sverkers Zennström guest professorship that we want to make appear in the “Activities” menue under his name.

Sverker C. Jagers’ inaugural lecture

On 21 November 2022 Sverker C. Jagers held his inaugural lecture as new Zennström visiting professor. The lecture on the need of climate change leadership, was followed by a panel discussion led by Mikael Karlsson. We were delighted to have Niklas Zennström in the audience, whose generous donation through Zennström Philanthropies to Uppsala University funds the guest professorships in climate change leadership.

The Zennström visiting professorships

The Zennström Professorship in Climate Change Leadership is a ten-year series of visiting professorships. It is co-funded by generous donations from Zennström Philanthropies, founded by Niklas Zennström, Uppsala University alumnus, and his wife Catherine Zennström. Earlier, over the past six years, four visiting professors have been hosted by the department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala university: Doreen Stabinsky, Kevin Anderson, Keri Facer and Stefania Barca. In 2021 Mikael Karlsson, associate professor in environmental sciences became the formal head of the climate change leadership (CCL) unit at the department.  Thereupon, he has suggested new candidates for the Zennström visiting professorships, including Sverker C. Jagers.

In September 2022, Sverker C. Jagers, otherwise professor in political science at Gothenburg university, joined CCL as the fifth Zennström guest professor. Jagers has long standing experience working with environmental politics and environmental governance, driven by a deep interest in interdisciplinary science. Particularly, he is interested in assessing social and political acceptance of effective environmental and climate instruments, and under what conditions and by whom such instruments are feasible. 

We used the occasion of Niklas Zennström’s visit to Uppsala this November to arrange Jagers’ official inaugural lecture as Zennström guest professor in climate change leadership.

Fltr: Mikael Karlsson, Johan Tysk, Niklas Zennström, Sverker C. Jagers. Picture by J. Wahlgren

Inaugural lecture on the need of climate change leadership

In his inaugural lecture, Jagers proceeded from the theory of social dilemmas and collective action to explain the origin of climate change from a societal perspective and discussed how to overcome this problem. From Jagers’ perspective, climate change is similar to many other collective action problems, such as littering and corruption. The tricky thing with climate change, he argues, is the long-term and sizeable temporal and spatial scales – we’re basically dealing with a gigantic coordination problem. And just like any other collective action problem, it is unlikely that contributing actors will change their behavior spontaneously or voluntarily. Therefore, dealing with climate change requires active guidance and help; where climate change leaders are needed to show the possibility of alternative routes or contribute to necessary coordination through firmer steering. In his lecture, Jagers discussed several potential candidates who can take on this leadership role, including scientists, businesses, religious communities, and other members of civil society.  

Digging into the nitty gritty of Jagers’ research

As a political scientist by training, Jagers particularly elaborated on the possibilities and obstacles for political climate leadership. Political leaders compared to other societal actors, he argued, have the most comprehensive and stringent toolbox, which makes them relevant to study from a leadership perspective. Research on collective action shows that people are willing to undertake behavioral changes to reach a common objective only insofar others do so as well. But in the pursuit of answering why individuals undertake collective action, research has found several determinants that could explain why individuals behave in ways that contribute to a common objective. In his research studies, Jagers has looked at public opinions on climate taxes and laws and found that if people perceive climate policies as being fair and effective, they are more likely to support them. This means that for individuals to support collective action on climate change, policy instruments should be fair and effective, or at least perceived as such. Jagers suggested that for policymakers to show climate leadership, they should consider such determinants when developing and implementing climate policies, as a means to increase policy support and legitimacy. 

Factors affecting public acceptance of climate policies – a key message of the talk

Jagers then moved on to discuss environmental research from a broader perspective, asking what sorts of questions research should pose and answer. He argued that environmental research today is too focused on asking questions to prove a point (are these tragical things happening in society justifiable?) or testing a theory (could one explain the climate change problem by approaching it from another angle?) or challenging theories (does X explain climate change problems better than Y?). Jagers argued that science should be more applied and that researchers should pose questions which can help solve, avoid or mitigate a problem. According to Jagers, science should contribute to making the world a little bit better and naturally, scientists should to a higher degree ask questions that prompts such research (how can this theory help solve that problem?).  

Examples of climate leadership in different sectors

Jagers’ lecture was followed by a panel discussion led by Mikael Karlsson with representatives from different sectors. The panelists were chosen to match the actors (potential climate leaders) that Sverker C. Jagers referred to in his presentation: Naghmeh Nasiritousi, Associate Professor in political sciences at Stockholm university, Annika Gottberg, environmental specialist at Church of Sweden, Mattias Johansson Head of Public Affairs at Volvo Cars and former chief of staff at the Ministry of the Environment (C) and Eva Svedling, elected CEO Global Challenge (Global Utmaning) and former undersecretary of state at the Ministry of the Environment (MP). The panelists summarized their thoughts from having listened to Jager’s inaugural lecture. They furthermore discussed challenges and opportunities in their respective sectors with regards to climate change and how leadership promoting collective action and transformation can be taken. 

Mikael Karlsson standing on the left of the panel composed of three women and one man
Panel discussion moderated by M. Karlsson. Panel members: Naghmeh Nasiritousi , Annika Gottberg, Eva Svedling and Mattias Johansson

Nasiritousi agreed to many of Jager’s points and continued the discussion on political climate leadership, pondering about the lack of such leadership today and how research could help in supporting the evolution of political climate leaders. Johansson, representing the private sector, agreed that there is a current deficit in political climate leadership, but while this has implications for them as a company, he argued that their pathway forward is clear: electrification is happening with or without policy support. He continued saying that the private sector has to change because of customer and investor pressure, but also because they think it is the right thing to do. 

Svedling argued that they can support climate leadership by providing a platform where civil society actors, businesses and politicians can meet and discuss climate solutions. Global Utmaning, where Svedling will take over as CEO in February, can work as a node to bring different societal actors together to accelerate climate action as well as pushing others to do the same. 

Sverker C. Jagers taking notes during the panel discussion
Annika Gottberg resonates from the point of view of the Church of Sweden and their climate actions.

In the Church of Sweden, values are seen as crucial in overcoming barriers to climate action. According to Gottberg, nurturing values of equality and justice is key in their climate work. The Church can, through its wide community and as an important meeting point for people, shed a light on climate justice issues and support individuals in taking climate action. As an organization, they can also undertake measures themselves and “lead by example”. 

Following the panel discussion, Karlsson invited the audience to ask questions about Jagers’ presentation. A question that awoke interest concerned the question of power and how powerful actors can prevent or hamper climate leadership. Jagers found this question excellent, arguing that power is of course relevant in all types of collective action problems, not least concerning climate change. However, given limited time and the complexity of the issue, Jagers invited the audience to attend his master course, where Jagers expands on his thinking on the relationship between power, leadership and climate change. 

Mikael Karlsson gives the word to Sverker C. Jagers to comment on the panel discussion
Mikael Karlsson and Sverker C. Jager on the left of the seated panel composed of three women and one man
Sverker C. Jagers comments on the panel discussion.
Fltr: M. Karlsson, S. C. Jagers, N. Nasiritousi, A. Gottberg, E. Svedling, M. Johansson

Celebrating our new Zennström guest professor

After the successful official part of the event, the day ended with a mingle at the Ångströms laboratory with climate friendly finger food and more informal discussions with the panel, the audience and the new Zennström guest professor, Sverker C. Jagers.

Mikael Karlsson bringing out a toast on Sverker C. Jager
Mikael Karlsson bringing out a toast for Sverker C. Jagers

Recordings of the lecture and the panel discussion

Inaugural lecture recording
Panel discussion recording

Ett slag för tillämpad samhällsvetenskap

av Sverker C. Jagers, Zennström gästprofessor på CCL

Särskilt  två saker minns jag det stod om den norska staden Bergen, i den geografibok vi hade i fjärde (eller om det var femte) klass: Att staden ligger vid havet, vackert omgärdad av dimhöljda berg och att det alltid regnar där. Enligt statistiken till och med betydligt mer än i min hemstad Göteborg. Och som det regnat och blåst! Hotellet tillhandahöll utlåningsparaplyer och inte mindre än tre hann avverkas, helt, under de tre dagar som mitt besök pågick.

Sofie Lindstrøms hus, Samhällsvetenskapligt fakultet, Universitet i Bergen

Syftet med min resa var att besöka Bergens universitet för att dels ge två olika föredrag på termat tillämpad samhällsvetenskap och dels möta upp med flera unga forskare och ge dem feedback på deras olika arbeten. Det pågår många spännande projekt på detta universitet, det är helt klart. Särskilt kul var det att få återse kollegor som jag tidigare lärt känna under deras tid som doktorander och som nu blommat ut och blivit etablerade forskare i en stad och på ett universitet som båda framstår som väldigt dynamiska och där flera samhällsvetenskapliga grupper sysslar med frågor som rör klimatförändringar.

Inledningsvis besökte jag DIGSSCORE som är en digital forskningsinfrastruktur som bland annat inhyser den norska medborgarpanelen och där flera klimatrelaterade projekt kopplade till allmänhetens opinion bedrivs. Därefter besökte jag Department of Government som är produkten av en sammanslagning av två forskargrupper och alltså är en tämligen ny institution på den samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten. Här bedrivs mycket forskning som just kan kategoriseras som ”tillämpad” eftersom de frågor man undersöker har en tydlig koppling till hur man kan hantera de samhällsutmaningar som studeras, såsom klimatförändringar och migration.

Exempel på tillämpad samhällsvetenskap

I mitt första föredrag på DIGSSCORE presenterade jag rykande färska resultat från en studie jag gjort med forskare vid Göteborgs universitet, Luleå tekniska universitet och Världsbanken och som handlar om att undersöka allmänhetens inställning till att ta bort subventioner på fossila bränslen. Den geografiska täckningen är fem länder på fyra kontinenter (Mexico, Ecuador, Egypten, Indonesien och Indien).

Resultaten är tämligen entydiga – om ett lands regering specificerar vad de överskjutande pengarna från att ta bort subventioner skall användas till (t ex att satsa på välfärdsutveckling, klimatanpassning eller för att stärka särskilt utsatt grupper, så som fattiga) så ökar stödet betydligt och detta oavsett vilket av länderna vi valt att studera. Jag fick spänstiga och kluriga frågor från publiken, som inte minst är väldigt kunniga när det gäller survey-experimentella metoder och jag tog med mig många viktiga lärdomar inför framtida studier.

Föredrag på DIGSSCORE

Policyinnovation

I mitt andra föredrag med titeln ” Policy innovation: Striking a blow for applied social science” försökte jag vara lite mer djärv och passa på att sticka ut hakan en smula. Därför handlade mitt föredrag mer explicit om min kanske just nu mest dominerande käpphäst, nämligen behovet av att samhällsvetenskapligt inriktad klimat- och miljöforskning bör bli mer tillämpad.

När jag lyssnar till och läser vad många kollegor publicerar och även när man granskar abstrakten till flertalet av de uppsatser som presenteras på statsvetenskapliga och samhällsvetenskapliga miljökonferenser, tycker jag mig se ett tydligt mönster. De flesta som studerar olika klimat- och miljöproblem väljer ut olika aspekter av dessa som kan användas antingen för att driva en tes (t ex. är de olika tragiska saker vi ser i miljön rättfärdiga eller orättfärdiga?), testa en teori (t ex. kan man bättre förklara uppkomsten av miljöproblemet genom att tänka på ett annorlunda sätt?) eller utmana olika teorier (t ex. kan teori X bättre förklara miljöfenomenet än teori Y?). Ganska få studier frågar sig emellertid om någon av alla våra teorier kan hjälpa till att lösa, undvika eller mildra de problem som ju faktiskt pågår konstant och som gradvis gör vår jord mindre angenäm att bebo.

Från teoriutveckling till tillämpad samhällsvetenskap

Naturligtvis utesluter inte det ena det andra, eller att det jag förespråkar gör mer teoretiskt drivna ansatser överflödiga eller oviktiga. Det är klart att vi ständigt behöver förfina våra teorier som hjälper oss att förstå och förklara vad som händer i vår samtid, eller vad som har hänt tidigare i vår historia. Frågan handlar mer om vad vi sedan gör med denna teoriförfining. I mina ögon vore det inte så lite klädsamt om syftena med dessa teoriutvecklingar inte bara, eller huvudsakligen, är att göra våra discipliner bättre, eller våra kollegor mer tillfredsställda, utan att dessa teorier också används för rådgivning kring hur vi kan göra världen lite bättre. 

Eftersom forskningsmiljön jag presenterade dessa tankar inför, Department of Government, sysslar mycket med frågor kring förvaltning och politisk styrning, bland annat på temat klimat och miljö, var nog det valda temat inte så utmanande, utan kanske snarare lite välkommet. Förhoppningsvis leder de spännande samtal vi hade efter föredraget till att fler forskare, inte minst unga sådana, motiveras att ta steget att även ställa forskningsfrågor vars svar kan användas av beslutsfattare, vilket i förlängningen gör att deras vägval och beslut blir både mer verkningsfulla och acceptabla bland de grupper som påverkas av besluten.  

Välkommen till Sverker C. Jagers installationsföreläsning 21 november 2022

Sverker C. Jagers är Zennström professor i klimatledarskap 2022/2023 på CCL.   Kom och lyssna på Sverkers installationsföreläsning som Zennström professor den 21 november 2022 i Uppsala. Läs mer och hitta länken för att anmäla dig.

Sverker C. Jagers new Zennström professor in climate change leadership

Sverker C. Jagers, professor in political sciences at Gothenburg university and director of the Centre for Collective Action Research, has been appointed by Uppsala university as the fifth Zennström professor in climate change leadership, financed by donations from Zennström Philanthropies. Sverker C. Jagers has long standing experience working in environmental politics and environmental governance. His research area concerns psychology, sociology, national economy and political science. Sverker’s work is led by his deep interest in interdisciplinary science. The question that is of particular interest to him is how effective and socially accepted environmental and climate policy instruments can be conceived. An example is how a CO2 tax can be designed that decreases carbon dioxide emission without upsetting people.

Wants to work in an interdisciplinary way

“I am often working with researchers in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. I have done research on how countries with different political systems are successful in handling environmental questions. What is the effect if a country is a democracy or not, or if there are problems of corruption on environmental politics? As a Zennström guest professor at Uppsala university I would like to establish collaborations with environmentally oriented research groups that have a solutions-oriented focus”, says Sverker who is open to be contacted.

Sverker C. Jager’s Zennström guest professorship will run from September 2022 to December 2023. He is working at Uppsala university halftime and will contribute to research, teaching and external cooperation. Jagers is part of the Climate Change Leadership group at the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University.

“The fact that scepticism towards climate politics is increasing raises the risk that climate goals will not be met, which entails enormous costs for society as a consequence. Therefore, Sverker Jagers’ Zennström guest professorship, with focus on effective and accepted climate leadership and governance, is a timely and delightful reinforcement of our team”, says Mikael Karlsson, associate professor and leader of the climate change leadership group at Uppsala University.

For more information contact:

Sverker C Jagers, Zennström guest professor in climate change leadership, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University.
E-post: sverker.jagers@geo.uu.se
Mobiltelefon: 0732-59 43 69

Mikael Karlsson, Associate professor in climate leadership, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University  
E-post: mikael.karlsson@geo.uu.se
Mobiltelefon: 070-3162722

Judith Lundberg-Felten, project coordinator climate change leadership, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University
E-post: judith.lundberg-felten@geo.uu.se