Rural settlement in Brandenburg: Regional development should be oriented towards sustainability.
Rural settlement in Brandenburg: Regional development should be oriented towards sustainability. Shutterstock/Mike Mareen

Headline: Regional Sustainability Transformations

The transition to the Post-fossil Age is generating social, economic, and political tensions. Entire regions, economic sectors and even policy fields must be realigned as a consequence. This research group investigates the prerequisites and opportunities for sustainability transformations as well as possible steering mechanisms and opportunities for participation at the substate level. Regions are important arenas for sustainable development as transformations at this level can support broader change. In addition, their economic, cultural, social and political relevance can lend momentum to transformations and strengthen identification with change processes.

The group's current research activities focus on the energy transitions in Lusatia and the Rhenish mining districts as well as sustainable food production in structurally weaker regions in the eastern German states. This work revolves around questions such as: How can citizens, children and young people contribute to the transformation of their living, learning and working environments? How do experimental spaces contribute to socio-ecological transformations? Which ecological aspects are taken into account, and which are neglected? How do the principles of sustainability shape transformations? How can inequalities - for example between urban and rural areas - be addressed in the context of transformations?

The research group collaborates with actors from politics, public administration and civil society to identify and elaborate pathways for sustainable development. These co-creative advisory activities underpin a transdisciplinary approach that invites critical reflection on the roles and effects of science within processes of structural transformation. In doing so, the researchers assume a critical, facilitative and catalytic role within transformations, ensuring that the transition to the Post-fossil Age offers opportunities to foster a more just and sustainable society.


Regional Sustainability Transformations

The interdisciplinary project "Regional Sustainability Transformations" examines how regions face sustainability challenges and which procedural adaptations are chosen for an increased need for negotiation. Sustainability transformations such as the coal phase-out are examined and actors in regions are advised on this path.

Participatory Energy Transition Visualization and Communication

Digital technologies are not widely used in public participation processes in support of the energy transition. The research project "Participatory Energy Transition Visualization and Communication" (ENVIKO) aims to facilitate dialogue among citizens by developing experimental digital technologies that couple visualizations of energy transition infrastructure with communication solutions.

Energy Communities: Structural Policy & Participation (BE:ST)

The project "Energy Communities: Structural Policy & Participation" (BE:ST) examines a central social innovation of the energy transition: community energy projects and mechanisms to share their financial benefits. BE:ST investigates whether, to what extent, and under what circumstances community energy could be harnessed to support structural change in former lignite mining districts and boost public acceptance of the energy transition.

Completed Projects

Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia

How is life in Lusatia set to change with the end of its coal-mining industry? What opportunities for sustainable social and economic dynamics does this present? And what can be done to ensure that the transformation of the region is democratic and fair? This project investigates processes of change in Lusatia and offers support and guidance to political and civil society actors in this context.

Evaluation of the "Forum Covid-19" Citizens' Assembly in Saxony

The "Forum Covid-19" Citizens' Assembly brings together 50 randomly selected people in Saxony to discuss their experiences with the pandemic and the government's response. The citizens' assembly will develop its recommendations for policymakers in several meetings between now and spring 2022. The IASS and the nexus Institute are conducting an accompanying evaluation of the Corona Forum.