spring 2024
SVF-3404 Ocean Futures - 15 ECTS

Type of course

This course is eligible for students admitted to the Ocean Leadership master’s degree program. It is not available to any other category of students as a singular or elective course.

Course content

The future of the ocean requires striking a sound balance between conservation and use. In a pessimistic scenario, overexploitation continues, with competition and conflict over ocean spaces and resources intensifying as critical global challenges worsen. In an optimistic scenario, new visions, values, governance systems, and creative innovations secure shared integrative solutions that open new pathways for sustainability and resilience. What can ocean leaders do to help avoid the former scenario and improve the chances of obtaining the latter, and to explore the whole range of possible alternatives in between? Building on the preceding courses of the program, the focus here turns to the future and what is needed to create resilient human/ocean systems able to continue developing, evolving, and thriving rather than stagnating or collapsing in the face of change.

To help envision and contribute to the development of sustainable and resilient ocean futures, the course will introduce the ideas and practices of anticipatory governance through exploring relevant theories and methods from future studies, scenario planning, strategic thinking, and sustainability transitions. Here, a particular spotlight will be placed on developing strategic approaches to engaging with the future of digital technologies and transformation.

Participants will learn how to develop scenarios as decision-support tools and consider how to maintain flexibility and adaptability in leadership, governance, law, and innovation. In doing so, they will investigate the potential utility of these approaches for navigating diverse values, views, interests, and problem definitions in the development of common actions to advance sustainable and resilient systems. In supporting the development of adaptive styles of leadership, the course will emphasize the importance of cultivating a growth mindset and exploring different tools for managing stress, setbacks, and change.

As part of an experience-based master’s program, students will also be expected to relate their learning to their own work context, and to share their knowledge and experience with the group as part of a peer-peer learning process. In this subject, they will also work to begin developing individual project ideas for their master’s thesis.

Objectives of the course

The candidates who complete the course are expected to have achieved the following outcomes:


Upon completion of the course, participants will have developed:

  • ability to critically analyze and synthesize knowledge across key concepts of ocean leadership
  • awareness of key perspectives and practices in anticipatory governance and law and familiarity with the main theories and practices related to scenario development
  • familiarity with practices of strategic thinking and planning
  • specialized knowledge on the development of strategies for engaging with digital transformation
  • understanding of the value of adaptive and resilient leadership for conditions of complexity, uncertainty, and socio-ecological change


Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • create robust arguments based on a critical evaluation of different sources of information
  • critically evaluate relevant theories for a scholarly project and identify knowledge gaps
  • engage tools and practices for managing stress, extracting value from setbacks/failures, and persisting under challenging conditions
  • critically assess the opportunities and challenges for developing scenarios and adaptive strategic plans for advancing sustainability

General competence: 

Upon completion of the course, participants will have the ability to:

  • effectively communicate issues of ocean leadership to both public and specialist audiences
  • apply ideas and practices from ocean leadership to advance sustainability in their own context and critically evaluate their success
  • identify and analyze existing strategies within their own professional settings and develop digital strategies of relevance to their own organization
  • propose research or development projects that can advance the theory or practice of ocean leadership

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

The course is taught through a combination of (face-to-face) intensive sessions in which participants come together to learn, share experiences, practice skills, and integrate knowledge across domains, and online modules on topics of relevance that can be completed by participants asynchronously in their own time and at their own pace.

The intensive sessions run over 4.5 days, with one scheduled at the beginning of the semester and one towards the end of semester. These sessions will include keynote lectures and interactive seminars on course topics.

Between the two intensive sessions, participants will complete online modules covering relevant knowledge, concepts, and perspectives across the domains of leadership, law and governance, and information and ocean technologies. They will also work to develop digital strategies of relevance to their organization and addressing ocean challenges. The program has ambitious learning goals and will require substantial amounts of high-quality work between the two intensive sessions. Online virtual meetup sessions will therefore be scheduled to support this, providing opportunities for participants to connect, discuss online learning materials, and/or obtain feedback on assessment work in development.

Teaching in both the intensive sessions and the online modules will engage a range of methods and materials and may include, for example, keynote lectures and interviews with renowned international experts, interactive exercises and activities, instructional videos and filmed talks, podcasts and readings, panel and roundtable discussions, and field site visits or virtual tours.



Examination: Date: Duration: Grade scale:
Assignment 14.06.2024 14:00 (Hand in) A–E, fail F

Coursework requirements:

To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:

Completion of online modules Approved – not approved
Attendance in intensive sessions Approved – not approved
Attendance of at least one virtual meetup Approved – not approved
Presentation on draft thesis idea Approved – not approved
Reflection paper Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

Completion of all online modules; attendance at both intensive sessions; attendance of at least one virtual meetup; a presentation on a draft thesis idea (delivered during the second intensive session); submission of a reflection paper (written by individuals reflecting on their learning throughout the course).

As an experience-based master’s program that aims to support peer to peer learning, there is an expectation that all participants actively engage in discussions and group work activities.

More info about the assignment

An exam in which the individual will have a set period of time to complete a written assignment related to ocean futures (max. 5000 words).

Re-sit examination

Participants who receive an F on their examination in this course are entitled to a re-sit.
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 15
  • Course code: SVF-3404
  • Earlier years and semesters for this topic