What is LUMES?
LUMES is a 2-year international M.Sc. programme focusing on the important sustainability challenges facing humankind. Each year approximately 40 students are accepted to the programme. LUMES is open for students from all over the world and will lead to the Swedish equivalent of a Master's degree (i.e. Magisterexamen). LUMES has a 90% graduation rate.
The objective of LUMES is to prepare students with the knowledge and competencies to actively contribute to long-term ecological and socio-economic sustainability. The programme builds on the previous knowledge, skills, and experiences students possess with the intention of producing graduates with capacities to create change, from local to global levels. LUMES is not a program that trains competent technicians in different approaches or tools; instead, the ambition is to foster what can be called knowledge brokers, who are equipped with interdisciplinary and cross-cultural competencies in the field of sustainability.
The programme’s unique international, interdisciplinary setting provides a forum for students to work together on a broad array of environment- and sustainability-focused topics, where students acquire invaluable insights into other cultural and disciplinary perspectives. This is carried out by bringing together insights from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, disciplines in both natural and social sciences, as well as by creating opportunities for students to engage in particular cases of unsustainable practices. Through such “real world learning opportunities”, students strengthen their confidence and abilities to facilitate change.
The programme uses critical and system thinking approaches, rather than focusing expertise in particular methods or tools. Attention is also placed on students’ understanding of both natural and social dynamics of complex sustainability challenges, the theoretical underpinnings of how we perceive the challenges, and a fundamental understanding of the multitude of tools and approaches available when attempting to assess and solve them. To keep the program at the forefront of sustainability education, and to better operationalize the aforementioned ambitions, a redeveloped program was launched autumn 2013 with updated objectives and curriculum structure. It maintains its international and interdisciplinary profile, and furthermore be based on five key developmental competencies within sustainability education.
History of the LUMES Programme
LUMES was launched in 1997 and it was one of the first interdisciplinary programs of its kind in Sweden. Since 2005, LUMES has expanded from a three-term master program into a full two-year master program based at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), and located under the Faculty of the Social Sciences. Since its inception, LUMES has educated around 600 graduates from nearly 100 countries (See LUMES Alumni). In 2016, we welcomed our 20th batch of students.
Initially, LUMES was an environmental program rooted in systems analysis and government studies, with a strong focus on policy mechanisms such as environmental legislation. Over time, LUMES has evolved into a program with an extended and comprehensive curriculum covering diverse aspects of the broad sustainability debate. This extension has enabled students to gain a deeper understanding of global sustainability challenges at a variety of scales and levels. LUMES students also develop an improved understanding of the social theories within which the debates on sustainability challenges and environmental problems are embedded.
LUMES emphasizes knowledge integration
The ability of students to critically and systematically integrate knowledge and manage complexity is ensured throughout the courses in the LUMES Program. In order for our students to both understand and provide solutions for how to address sustainability problems requires integrating knowledge from a number of fields or disciplines in both the natural and social sciences. This includes a basic comprehension of, for example, the physical and biological processes underlying current environmental changes, and an understanding of the social theories and debates in which these environmental changes are framed. In addition, the courses offered provide skills for analysing and dealing with the complexity of the sustainability challenges, and the knowledge of a broad “toolbox” to find solutions to these.
For students to develop these competences, each course is fundamentally different, with bases in fields and disciplines such as the natural sciences, social theory, economics, urban planning and rural livelihoods, health, energy, or courses focusing on specific natural resources such as water. This diversity allows students to examine social-ecological systems from differing perspectives, creating a more comprehensive problem understanding, and fostering confidence among students to address the problems from a variety of standpoints. Numerous times throughout coursework, students have the opportunity to develop competencies and insights to complex sustainability challenges.
Program curriculum doesn’t stop with a student’s ability to integrate different types of (academic) knowledge within the field; it also strongly emphasizes development of the skills and abilities to use the knowledge gained in the program to target specific groups and contribute to change outside of academia.
LUMES strives to make international and national connections
In its 20 year history, LUMES has shown to be a truly international program, with students and alumni from nearly 100 countries, making LUMES students exposed to different worldviews, perspectives and personalities. This setting provides a unique milieu for students to broaden their perspectives while developing interpersonal competencies. Apart from teaching and learning academic skills, the courses give priority to the development of strong skills, such as scientific writing, group work and presentations.
During the first course of the LUMES program, students partake in a 3-day retreat to Northwest Skåne (Breanäs) where they learn more about the environmental, historical and socio-cultural particularities of the region. During the retreat students carry out research on one of four topic areas (i.e., land-use, water, biodiversity and soil) linked to Breanäs. Apart from the opportunity to learn hands-on methods and conducting real field projects, students also get the chance to get to know each other and their teachers as well as staff members during the retreat.
In conclusion, the LUMES program is an excellent opportunity for students to better understand dynamics about current sustainability challenges and to engage in intellectually stimulating discussions with teachers and classmates during the different courses as well as during a variety of extra-curricular activities.
In addition, LUMES is situated within the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, LUCSUS, which has has become a leader in developing the field of sustainability science over the past decade. At LUCSUS, we believe that a wide range of theoretical frames, methodological tools and approaches will facilitate the understanding of societal transformations, an objective that lies at the core of sustainability science. Our staff members are active in advancing and further developing education in sustainability science, including places such as the University of Tokyo in Japan and Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany. LUCSUS also plays an active role as a Right Livelihood College, and as a host of the International Project Office of the Earth System Governance Project.