Prof. Dr. Patrizia Nanz

Prof. Dr. Patrizia Nanz

Affiliate Scholar

Patrizia Nanz is president of the European University Institute (EUI).

Previously, she was vice president of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE). From 2016 to 2021, she was as a scientific director at the IASS and professor of Transformative Sustainability Studies at the University of Potsdam. She is a founding director of the Franco-German Forum for the Future, a forum for dialogue on socio-ecological transformations established under the 2019 Treaty of Aachen. As an expert on public participation and innovative public administration, she has advised the federal government in numerous other contexts, including in roles as co-chair of the Science Platform Sustainability 2030 and member of the Hightech Forum

In her research Patrizia Nanz explores the conditions for successful social transformations and experiments with co-creative thinking and design processes in which people from different sectors, organizations and walks of life contribute their knowledge to meet critical challenges such as climate change. One example of this practice is the BMBF-funded project Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia. Initiated by Nanz in 2020, and funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, the LOSLAND project promoted democratic engagement and fostered a culture of participation at the local level by organizing and supporting future councils. At BASE, she led the Collaborative Governance Lab (CO:LAB). This innovation unit advised and supported interdepartmental collaboration processes and complex participation procedures and promotes interdepartmental, interdisciplinary, and agile work within the federal administration.

In 2016, Patrizia Nanz co-authored No Representation Without Consultation: A Citizen's Guide to Participatory Democracy (Between the lines) together with Claus Leggewie, in which she calls for the establishment of future councils in order to put the often neglected issue of intergenerational justice on the political agenda and revitalize representative democracy. In 2020, she co-authored Reconstructing Democracy. How Citizens Are Building from the Group up (Harvard University Press), together with Charles Taylor and Madeleine Beaubien Taylor, in which she draws on examples from Europe and the USA to show how we can renew democratic culture by involving citizens in transformation processes.

Patrizia Nanz has held a Professorship of Political Theory at the University of Bremen since 2002 and conducts research on the future of democracy. Between 2013 and 2016, she was the head of the transdisciplinary research area "Culture of Participation" at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities Essen (KWI), where she initiated and accompanied numerous participation processes. In 2009, together with a group of international researchers and practitioners, she launched Participedia, a wiki platform that documents citizen participation initiatives worldwide, and founded the European Institute for Public Participation (EIPP), which advises companies, public agencies, and governments in various European countries.

After gaining a degree in philosophy at Munich School of Philosophy, she continued her studies under Jürgen Habermas (Frankfurt/Main) and Charles Taylor (McGill, Montreal), not least because she wished to combine scholarly research with a commitment to the public good. Patrizia Nanz earned her Ph.D. at the European University Institute (Florence) with a thesis on the European public sphere and constitutional patriotism. A trained journalist, she worked for many years as an editor at S. Fischer Verlag, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore (Milan) and, for ten years, as the commissioning editor of the "Politics" series at Klaus Wagenbach Verlag (Berlin).


Featured publications:

Research interests:

  • Public participation and open government
  • Administrative innovation and participatory administration
  • Transformations towards environmental and social sustainability
  • Future of democracy
  • Citizen participation
  • Civil society
  • Technological and social change (climate change, digitalization, biotechnology, energy transitions, nuclear waste repositories)