David O’Byrne




Born in Limerick, Ireland, I have a BSc in Product design and Technology from the University of Limerick, with a final project on social interaction in urban public space and a MSc in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science from Lund University, where I wrote my thesis on education for sustainability at third level. I began my PhD studies in September 2015.


Having written a Master’s thesis on what is being taught as sustainability science in Univeristy, I have become interested in the foundations of sustainability science as an academic field. This involves questions of epistemology and methodology as well as the relationship between theory and practice. In the latter case I am particularly interested in the relationship between sustainability science theory and political action in civil society, where currently the discussion is focused on science/business and science/policy relations. In terms of subject matter I will be deploying these questions in the political aftermath of so-called natural disasters by looking at the emergence and action of social movements and broader politics in the public sphere. My aim is to further our understanding of how volatile human-environment relationships affect and are affected by contentious political processes with a view to making sustainability science relevant to civil society actors campaigning for sustainability.


My teaching has been at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s level and mostly focused on environmental social science. As well as acting as discussant for Master’s theses, I have been active in the preparation of courses and/or teaching of classes and seminars in the following courses:

  • MESS32: Social Theory and Sustainability
  • MESS34: Governance of Sustainability
  • MESS36: Sustainability and Economy


Hansen, M., Faran, T., and O’Byrne, D. (2015). The best laid plans: Using the capability approach to assess neoliberal conservation in South Africa—The Case of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Journal of Environment and Development. 1070496515598348.

Olsson, L., Jerneck, A., Thoren, H., Persson, J., & O’Byrne, D. (2015). Why resilience is unappealing to social science: Theoretical and empirical investigations of the scientific use of resilience. Science Advances, 1(4).

Almedom, A. M., O’Byrne, D., & Jerneck, A. (2015). Principles of epistemological accountability with methodological implications for measuring, assessing, and profiling human resilience. Ecology and Society, 20(3).

O’Byrne, D., Dripps, W., & Nicholas, K. A. (2015). Teaching and learning sustainability: An assessment of the curriculum content and structure of sustainability degree programs in higher education. Sustainability Science10(1), 43-59.

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