Programme Overview

Sustainability Activism

"Sustainability Activism" on topics such as climate change, human rights and environmental protection have long been part of global change making processes across the world. This Summer School addresses the changing realities, conditions and practices of sustainability activism bringing together social science and activist perspectives.

It aims to introduce theories about social justice and different forms of sustainability activism alongside grounded perspectives and case-study learning together with environmental human rights defenders and Right Livelihood Laureates and International Geneva.

The Right Livelihoods Award, often named the alternative Nobel prize, occupies a critical niche in the international sphere by awarding “change makers” ( and visionaries working for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world for all. As the Right Livelihood Foundation each year brings Laureates to Geneva such a course would open up for sharing with students, while also offering Laureates a space to reflect jointly with students and faculty around challenges and opportunities faced in contemporary forms of activism.

The course seeks to combine the understanding of contemporary forms of environmentalism and human rights activism from a theoretical perspective with hands-on insights and real-time case studies and hands-on insights from Right Livelihood Laureates together with lectures by university scholars and partners in the international community. The idea is to invite students and selected grassroots activists to learn from and join Laureates in workshop-based case-study based analysis of a given socio-political and environmental problem area combined with state-of-the-art theory and analytical frameworks. Students will also be invited to reflect upon their own forms of sustainability activism in the process.

This interdisciplinary pilot Summer School course is offered on a yearly basis in either Geneva or Zurich. The first session is to be held in Geneva from 7 to 12 June 2022. The target audience includes both MA-level university students interested in sustainability activism as well as a small number of places with scholarships for grassroots activists who may not necessarily need to be enrolled in a university setting.

Professionals : CHF 1,000

External students : CHF 800

UNIGE students : CHF 200


Dr. Peter Bille Larsen
Geneva School of Social Sciences
University of Geneva

Senior lecturer and researcher, joined the University of Geneva in September, 2018. He has a strong interest in critical theory, environmental anthropology and political ecology. His work addresses the intersection between environmental conservation, politics and social equity concerns, including work in the fields of cultural heritage, environmental governance, international human rights standards and sustainable development.  Primary fieldwork sites include the Peruvian Amazon, Viet Nam and global level organizations and processes. He works extensively with international organizations, NGOs and community-based organizations through collaborative efforts and policy-oriented action research. Active in multiple science policy arenas, he is currently a member of the Swiss Commission for UNESCO presiding a recent initiative on UNESCO-related human rights dialogues as well the Interface Commission of the Swiss Anthropological Association (

Current research focusses on sub-regional environmental governance and transboundary conservation in Southeast Asia, heritage and development in Vietnam as well as the changing conditions of environmental civil society and environmental defenders (Boninchi Foundation, IUCN, GSPI, SNF). He teaches sustainable development and biodiversity governance in the Master of Environmental Sciences, a course on the social and environmental dilemmas in contemporary capitalism Master's program in Innovation, Human Development and Sustainability and a course on sustainability standards and social regulation in the Masters of "Standardization, Social Regulation and Sustainable Development". Recent books include World heritage and human rights (Earthscan), Post-frontier resource governance (Palgrave) and World heritage and sustainable development (Routledge).


Dr. Aline Steinbrecher
Right Livelihoods Centre
University of Zurich

Aline Steinbrecher Frei is a private lecturer for Modern Age at the University of Zurich. After studying General History and Education, she earned her doctorate at the University of Zurich with a dissertation about handling insanity in the early modern age. In 2017, she attained her habilitation with a work about the relationship of human beings and dogs in the long 18th Century. She has been an assistant and research associate at the Historical Department for a long time. Most recently, she was a fellow at the Zukunftskolleg of the University of Constance. She lectured and researched at the Wellcome Institute of London, at the Historical Department in Constance, at the Historical Seminar in Munich and at the Medical History Department in Basel and Freiburg.