Photo of Johan Niskanen

Johan Niskanen

Assistant Professor

I study how perceptions of energy and environmental change are transformed into practice, focusing on sustainable innovations and circular economies.

A critical perspective on energy, technology and economics

Green innovations and new economic solutions are highlighted as solutions to, among other things, the climate problem. It is unclear how these concepts and linked practices contribute to a social transformation. My research and teaching take a critical perspective on issues concerning the environment, energy and the economy of a society in alleged transformation.

I study innovations such as passive houses and ideas about circular economies from a social science perspective. I want to understand how these innovations develop, how they are used by different actors, and what social impact they have. My research is not about evaluating whether these ideas are sustainable. Instead, I study alleged sustainable innovations by following how they are used in practice by relevant social actors from many different sectors of society.

I analyze the growing discourse and the practice of building projects with sustainability ambitions, as well as attempts to develop a more circular economy. For example, I study the role of passive houses in different sectors, as well as how repair practices develop in the circular economy in countries inside and outside of Europe.

Teaching environmental issues and planning

My teaching focuses on technology, innovations and the environment from social science and critical perspectives. I lecture in several courses, in community planning and in the bachelor program in environmental science and in the master's program Science for sustainable development. I am also responsible for the course Sustainability, Environment and Social Change on the Bachelor Program in Urban Planning and for the course Urban Planning on the Bachelor Program in Civic Logistics. I have a bachelor's degree in environmental science and a master's degree in political science with an emphasis on international relations. I have previous experience of working as a technical consultant and managing energy-related projects in the private and public sectors.



Johan Niskanen, Jonas Anshelm, Simon Haikola (2024) A multi-level discourse analysis of Swedish wind power resistance, 2009-2022 Political Geography, Vol. 108, Article 103017 Continue to DOI


Johan Niskanen, Jonas Anshelm, Simon Haikola (2023) A new discourse coalition in the Swedish transport infrastructure debate 2016-2021 Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Vol. 116, Article 103611 Continue to DOI


Johan Niskanen, Harald Rohracher (2022) A politics of calculation: Negotiating pathways to zero-energy buildings in Sweden Technological forecasting & social change, Vol. 179, Article 121630 Continue to DOI
Johan Niskanen, Harald Rohracher (2022) Mainstreaming passive houses: more gradual reconfiguration than transition Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Vol. 24, p. 612-624 Continue to DOI


Johan Niskanen, Duncan McLaren (2021) The Political Economy of Circular Economies: Lessons from Future Repair Scenario Deliberations in Sweden Circular Economy and Sustainability Continue to DOI
Johan Niskanen, Duncan McLaren, Jonas Anshelm (2021) Repair for a Broken Economy: Lessons for Circular Economy from an International Interview Study of Repairers Sustainability, Vol. 13, Article 2316 Continue to DOI
Johan Niskanen, Dick Magnusson (2021) Understanding upscaling and stagnation of farm-based biogas production in Sweden through transitional and farming logics Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 279, Article 123235 Continue to DOI


Duncan McLaren, Johan Niskanen, Jonas Anshelm (2020) Reconfiguring repair: Contested politics and values of repair challengeinstrumental discourses found in circular economies literature Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol. 8, Article 100046 Continue to DOI
Johan Niskanen, Harald Rohracher (2020) Passive houses as affiliative objects: Investment calculations, energy modelling, and collaboration strategies of Swedish housing companies Energy Research & Social Science, Vol. 70, Article 101643 Continue to DOI
Johan Niskanen, Jonas Anshelm, Duncan McLaren (2020) Local conflicts and national consensus: The strange case of circular economy in Sweden Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 261, Article 121117 Continue to DOI


Johan Niskanen (2018) Mainstreaming passive houses: A study of energy efficient residential buildings in Sweden

Research project