Merritt Polk received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1984. She received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Human Ecology from the University of Gothenburg in 1998. From 2000 to 2002 she attended the Inter University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), Summer Program in Quantitative Methods at the University of Michigan where she studied quantitative methods including regression and structural equation modeling (LISREL). She became a tenured University Lecturer in Human Ecology at the School of Global Studies in 2002, and was promoted to Associate Professor in Human Ecology at the School of Global Studies in 2010.
Areas of interest
Since the 1990’s, Merritt has worked extensively with practitioners in the field of gender mainstreaming and transport with a focus on travel patterns, attitudes and policy and applied this work to the interactions between gender equality, sustainable transportation and climate change. She has taught diverse courses such as sustainable cities, sustainable development and conflicts, as well as interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methods in Human Ecology. More recently she has done research on urban planning with a focus on multi-level stakeholder processes and the framing and implementation of sustainable development. For the last six years, she has worked on developing transdisciplinarity methods for sustainable urban development, with a focus on combining interdisciplinary and cross sector approaches in urban planning.
Merritt is currently working at the Mistra-Urban Futures (M-UF), a transdisciplinary Center for sustainable urban development along with her responsibilities at the School of Global Studies where she currently has responsibility for the doctoral program in Human Ecology. At the Center, Merritt heads the development of a transdisciplinary methodology for joint knowledge production and capacity building between universities, private, semi-private and public organizations. She is currently working on evaluating a set of guidelines and qualities for joint knowledge production which will be applied to futures projects at the Center. She is also responsible for developing strategies and projects for ensuring that the knowledge produced at the Center is accessible and usable for the targeted stakeholder groups, as well as shares responsibility for the developing and supporting international projects. Some of her current research projects include: the conditions for transdisciplinary learning, methodological challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production in urban areas, and evaluating transdisciplinarity by combining practical relevance and scientific excellence.
Teaching and tutoring
Merritt Polk has extensive teaching experience at Human Ecology since 1992. She has taught courses on the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as advised students on the undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels. She has taught the following introductory and advanced courses in Human Ecology and Human Technology at the Institution for Interdisciplinary Studies, now the School of Global Studies, Göteborg University. Guest lecturer at Lund’s Technical University SIDA course on Traffic safety and Urban Planning Course; at Chalmers Technical University’s Masters course on sustainable planning, and at Cultural Geography.