Environment and Society in the Global South

The aim of the research group is to contribute to understanding globalisation processes and human dimensions of global change in the Global South.

The research group explores a broad portfolio of disciplinary entrance points, combined in various ways in our concrete research activities. The empirical research activities are concentrated in Africa (both East, West and South), South-East Asia and the Pacific, or deal with issues at the global scale. A variety of data sources are employed in our research, from interviews to Earth Observation.


The research group explores a broad portfolio of disciplinary entrance points, combined in various ways in our concrete research activities. These build on three key research areas:

How people manage and use land is central to addressing major sustainability challenges. This includes climate change, food and nutrition security, biodiversity conservation, sustainable energy, and poverty alleviation. We examine how and where land-cover and land use changes occur, the factors driving changes in land systems, the outcomes of land system changes, and how land systems can be governed to help achieve various sustainability goals (e.g., nature conservation, equity and justice, poverty alleviation, food security). Examples of research and teaching areas include: land acquisitions and their effects on local livelihoods; rural-urban transitions; transformations of farming systems; outcomes of sustainability commitments; forest dynamics and the outcomes for local people’s livelihoods and food and nutrition security; land use and climate change interactions.

Urbanization and rural transformation unfold in the interaction between globalization processes and local development dynamics. Within this global-local nexus, we examine the drivers, dynamics and outcomes of societal transformation processes in rural and urban areas – and how rural and urban spaces can be governed for sustainable and inclusive development. Examples of research and teaching areas include the significance of rural-urban linkages for small town development; the interconnections between world market dynamics and rural livelihood changes; the impact of global agro-industrial value chains on regional development; the interactions of human mobility, migration, urbanization and urban spatial transformations. 

Earth Observation of terrestrial ecosystems and land use with a focus on remote sensing of land functions and properties from local to global scale - and their responses to environmental, socio-economic and climatic changes. Remote sensing applications are anchored in research activities within human and physical geography, and often involves both image analysis and fieldwork. Examples of research and teaching areas include land surface characterization and modeling of spatial and temporal processes such as: monitoring vegetation health and composition; assessing land degradation and ecosystem resilience under climate change; studying land use/land cover change and associated drivers including deforestation/afforestation, urbanization and change in land use intensity.

The empirical research activities are concentrated in Africa (both East, West and South), South-East Asia and the Pacific, or deal with issues at the global scale. All scales from the household to continental, are considered. Great importance is attached to the mutual influence of processes at different scales, and a variety of data sources from interviews to Earth Observation are employed.

The research group continuously emphasizes to capitalize the interdisciplinary potential which lies in developing research approaches that cut across the key research areas described above.






















Ongoing Research Projects

The research group is engaged in projects that are funded through national and international grants. Most of the projects are carried out in cooperation with other research institutions in Denmark, Europe, and the Global South.

The list is organized chronologically, with the most recent projects first:

  • ALPMEMA - Alpine Mountain Hay Meadows Management: Best practices to maintain their Favorable Conservation Status against underuse under different property right regimes inside and outside protected areas. Biodiversa+ grant 2023-2026.
  • The role of rural-urban linkages for enhanced Climate Resilience in rural Tanzania (RUL4CLI). Danida grant 2022-2027
  • CLISA - Unravelling climate change impacts on savanna vegetation ecosystems. The Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF; FNU), 2022-2026
  • Risk-assessment of Vector-borne Diseases Based on Deep Learning and Remote Sensing. Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF), 2022-2026
  • Draindetect - Mapping drained carbon-rich wetlands. Geocenter fund, 2022-2025.
  • FairFrontiers - Fair for whom? Power, politics and precarity in transformations of tropical forest-agriculture frontiers. Grant from Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), Kyoto, Japan, 2021-2026. 
  • DRYTIP - Drought-induced tipping points in ecosystem functioning: Coupled insights from Earth Observation, Dynamic Vegetation Model and Field Ecology. Villum Young Investigator, 2021-2026
  • RurbanClimate - Climate Resilience Across the Rural-Urban Continuum. Research grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2021-2025
  • AridLand – The response and resistance of global tropical drylands to increasing aridity. ESA CCI Research Fellowship, 2021-2023
  • PerformLCA – High performance land change assessment through coupling of AI, high performance computing and Earth Observation. KU Data+ grant, 2021-2024.
  • C-TREES - Tracking Carbon Sequestration at Tree Level. EU EUROSTARS, 2021-2023
  • DeReEco - Combining remote sensing and artificial intelligence to improve current understanding of global change impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. Villum Synergy Grant, 2020-2025
  • TOFDRY - Trees outside forests in global drylands. ERC starting grant 2020-2025
  • Reinterpreting how forests support people's dietary quality in low-income countries. ERC starting grant, 2020-2025
  • Mapping, characterizing and analyzing individual trees and shrubs outside forests in African drylands.DFF Sapere Aude grant, 2020–2024
  • TRACE - Plastics from source to sink: Exploring transport pathways and fate of plastic waste in coastal waters. Geocenter Denmark, 2020-2023
  • CaSSECS – Carbon Sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in (agro) Sylvopastoral Ecosystems in the Sahelian CILSS States. EU, 2020-2023
  • LEAP4FNSSA - Long-term Europe-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture. EU Commission (CSA), 2018-2022
  • BSU 3 - Building Stronger Universities.Program with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania.  Danida, 2017-2023
  • Beyond the 'Supermarket Revolution Myopia'- Traditional Markets and Sustainable Upgrading opportunities in Domestic Food Value Chains. Det Frie Forskningsråd, Samfund og Erhverv, 2017-2022
  • AIDAAgricultural Investors as Development Actors? Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) and IGN in collaboration with Makerere University, Uganda and Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. Danida Consultative Research Committee for Development Research (FFU), 2016-2022.

Recently completed Research Projects









The research group is responsible for two specialisations of the Master’s Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics:

Human Geography
Environment, Society and Development 

Remote Sensing of the Bio-Geosphere











We supervise Master's thesis projects and we are pleased to include Master students in the work of the research group. Below is a list of previous Master's thesis titles which can be used for inspiration or for finding a potential supervisor.

See examples of Master's thesis titles for inspiration.



Global Land project
Sustainable Land Use and Natural Resource Management (SLUSE)
Building Stronger Universities

International collaboration

The group attracts many young, international researchers and in connection with the FFU funded activities, the group receives visiting Ph.D. students and guest researchers from the Global South for education and collaborative work.

International collaboration is highly appreciated and ensured through a range of other mechanisms such as:

  • Planned sabbaticals for permanent staff abroad
  • Research capacity projects in the Global South
  • Participation in international field experiments within earth observation and validation
  • Participation in international research networks
  • Advisory services to international organisations (e.g. OECD, WB, UNCTAD, UNFCCC)
  • Participation in centres of excellence at UoC (Waterworlds, CAST)
  • Participation in cross-Faculty thematic centres (Space Science, Earth Systems Science)
  • Contributing to the platforms in ‘Building Stronger Universities' (Danish Universities)
  • Leadership of Ernst Strungman Forum on ‘Global Land Use', etc.


Members of the Research Group

Name Title Phone E-mail
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Alexander Prishchepov Associate Professor +4535331386 E-mail
Ankit Kariryaa External Researcher   E-mail
Bowy den Braber Postdoc   E-mail
Cecilie Friis Assistant Professor +4535325843 E-mail
Charlotte Mackenzie Hall Postdoc +4535327149 E-mail
Christin Abel Postdoc +4535332467 E-mail
Daniel Ortiz Gonzalo Assistant Professor +4535337652 E-mail
Dimitri Pierre Johannes Gominski Postdoc +4535323511 E-mail
Emilie Claire Vansant PhD Fellow +4535321251 E-mail
Erwan Gilles Norman Sachet PhD Student   E-mail
Festo Maro Enrolled PhD Student   E-mail
Florian Reiner PhD Fellow   E-mail
Guanqiao Ding Visiting PhD Student   E-mail
Gyula Mate Kovács PhD Fellow +4591922293 E-mail
Hao Xia PhD Student +4535337949 E-mail
Håkan Torbern Tagesson Associate Professor +4535325851 E-mail
Janelle Marie Sylvester PhD Student   E-mail
Jytte Agergaard Professor +4535322567 E-mail
Kjeld Rasmussen Associate Professor Emeritus +4535322563 E-mail
Laura Vang Rasmussen Associate Professor - Promotion Programme +4535325860 E-mail
Lisset Pérez Marulanda Enrolled PhD Student   E-mail
Ma. Eliza Jucar Villarino PhD Student   E-mail
Manja Hoppe Andreasen Assistant Professor - Tenure Track +4535324182 E-mail
Marianne Nylandsted Larsen Associate Professor +4535324167 E-mail
Martin Rudbeck Jepsen Associate Professor +4535322465 E-mail
Martin Stefan Brandt Associate Professor +4544164965 E-mail
Maurice Mugabowindekwe PhD Fellow +4535325087 E-mail
Maya Pasgaard Assistant Professor +4535331982 E-mail
Michael Bruce Byaruhanga Enrolled PhD Student   E-mail
Niels Fold Professor +4535322561 E-mail
Ole Mertz Professor +4535322529 E-mail
Peter Rosendal Dau Jensen Research Assistant   E-mail
Rasmus Fensholt Professor +4535322526 E-mail
Rasmus Skov Olesen Research Assistant +4535326782 E-mail
Sharon-Naomi Alcaide Manthey PhD Fellow +4535323796 E-mail
Shengping Ding Enrolled PhD Student   E-mail
Sinne Borby Ørtenblad Postdoc +4535332064 E-mail
Siyu Liu PhD Student +4535324732 E-mail
Stefan Oehmcke External Researcher   E-mail
Stéphanie Marie Anne F Horion Associate Professor +4535325878 E-mail
Søren Julsgaard Kragh PhD Student   E-mail
Thilde Bech Bruun Associate Professor +4535333412 E-mail
Tingting Lu PhD Student +4535327073 E-mail
Torben Birch-Thomsen Associate Professor +4535322570 E-mail
Wanting Yang PhD Student   E-mail
Wenmin Zhang Postdoc +4535336646 E-mail
Wim Verbruggen Postdoc   E-mail
Xaquín S. Pérez-Sindín Guest Researcher +4535328227 E-mail
Xiaowei Tong External Researcher +4535332725 E-mail
Xiaoxin Zhang PhD Student +4535334925 E-mail
Xiaoye Tong Postdoc +4535331239 E-mail
Xuemei Zhang Visiting PhD Student +45+8313739072901 E-mail
Yair Asael Alpuche Alvarez PhD Student +4535327035 E-mail
Yan Cheng PhD Fellow +4535322350 E-mail
Yanbiao Xi Visiting PhD Student   E-mail
Yang Xu PhD Student +4535332954 E-mail
Zhongxiang Fang PhD Student +4535326032 E-mail

Head of Research Group

Jytte Agergaard

Phone: +45 35 32 25 67

Examples of our research

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Research group members L.V. Rasmussen and O. Mertz show in a paper published in Nature Sustainability how agricultural intensification often fails to provide benefits for both human wellbeing and ecosystems.