The Research Group

In 2012, the Science Year, run by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, was titled "Project Earth: Our Future" and focused on research into sustainability. Yet, what is really meant when we use terms such as "sustainability", "sustainable development/management/society" or "sustainability strategy"?


Has this word – which still lacks a standardised international definition, and is therefore used in any number of senses – not long since become a societal sedative, perhaps even a non-word? Or are we in fact already on a path towards a new, sustainable society? How is the term used in the world of academia? Can and should "sustainable academia" exist? The research group Sustainability pursues the following question: why is sustainable thought and action not yet a natural component of all areas of society, politics, ecology, economics and culture – and should that even be our aim?

2019/2020: Online competition "Visions/Solutions for a sustainable tomorrow"

As part of the Visions/Solutions ideas competition, the Sustainability Research Group at Die Junge Akademie accepted entries that engaged with visionary ideas or concrete approaches to a sustainable future. Participants had until 15 May 2020 to submit entries in the categories of Visions or Solutions in a broad range of digital formats – from images and videos to texts and songs to multimedia content. Prizes in the amount of 2,000, 1,500 and 1,000 euros were awarded to the three best entries in each category. 

Die Junge Akademie celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020 and the competition, which received support from the UmweltBank AG for the Solutions category, represents a continuation of its engagement in developing innovative formats for transferring knowledge. 


Detailed information on all of the prize winners and their ideas can be found at or below.

An overview of the prize winners:

Visions category
1st place: My Hero (Aneta Zeleznikova)
2nd place: The Bark Project (Johanna Hehemeyer-Cürten and Charlett Wenig)
3rd place: Mach deine Vision zu deiner Zukunft (Team Creactive)

Solutions category

1st place: Virtual Planet (Sabina Keller) 
2nd place: Dungse
3rd place: SunCrafter

Special prizes
In response to the flood of outstanding submissions, the jury made the decision to award an additional special prize of 250 euros in each of the categories.
1. Visions category special prize: Corontäne (Maira Kellers et al.)
2. Solutions category special prize: Environmental club at Martin-Luther-Europaschule

2019: Statement “Refund Real Travel Costs!”

Scientists are engaged in a field of tension between global personal exchange regarding research in science and the ecological sustainability of travel. This conflict presents itself consistently alongside a commitment to research and collaboration at Die Junge Akademie. Against this background, the Research Rroup on Sustainability has initiated a statement in which the members of Die Junge Akademie demand binding regulations for the interpretation of the budget and grant law in order to make it possible to offset CO2 emissions on each business trip and to reimburse the costs incurred. These steps are necessary, as there are so far no equally valid regulations for employees of the public service, on a federal or regional level, to which a compensation for business trips from their respective budgets would be possible. The higher price for business trips alone, due to the CO2 compensation, would lead to long journeys becoming more expensive and thus also less frequent.

Click here for the complete statement (in English).
Click here for the press release (in German).

2019: Statement #FridaysForFuture

The RG Sustainability of Die Junge Akademie supports the protests of #FridaysForFuture. The warnings about climate change and its consequences for humans and the environment are based on scientific research.Therefore, we strongly support the protest of #FridaysForFuture on September 20 and call on the political actors to limit global warming with an ambitious and holistic climate policy.

Further information on the protests can be found here.

2016: Denaturalizing Climate Change

In the context of the Mexican-German Year of Science and Technology, Die Junge Akademie together with CIESAS Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social and artec Sustainability Research Center and the University of Bremen, are facilitating a workshop to develop de-colonizing and re-politicizing perspectives on climate change adaptation.

The workshop "Denaturalizing Climate Change" de-centers Western perspectives and brings together critical viewpoints from social research. The workshop took place 28-30 September 2016.

project page

2012: Exhibit "Using Energy Sustainably"

Exhibit "Using Energy Sustainably" on the MS Wissenschaft, 2012

In this joint project, realised by the research group Sustainability, the University of Greifswald and wind power plant producer Enercon backed the interactive exhibit "Using Energy Sustainably", which, within the scope of the 2012 edition of the Science Year (run by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research) and MS Wissenschaft, toured through Germany and Austria. The software application which formed the basis for the exhibit is now freely available at until further notice. The application takes the form of an educational game dealing with the opportunities and boundaries which accompany a sustainable approach to energy. More specifically, it looks at how carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption can be reduced in a house, at a university or within a city. What effect do energy-saving light bulbs have on household carbon dioxide emissions? What if you use environmentally friendly electricity? How do the savings delivered by each of these measures stack up against each other – i.e. which measures are the most worthwhile? In the case of a university, should environmental managers with a limited green initiatives budget favour the introduction of organic canteen food, the modernisation of heating systems or a "recycled only" approach to paper procurement?

Exhibit “Using Energy Sustainably”: report and photos
Science Year 2012 (German)
Application webpage

2012: E-Paper E-Paper "Sustainable University"

What is the relationship of sustainability and knowledge, what role can universities take on with the transformation into a sustainable society operating sustainably? As early as 1999, the environmental ethicist Konrad Ott questioned whether or not the concept of sustainability can also be applied to knowledge. This is one of a number of issues dealt with in our e-paper "Ideas for Tomorrow’s Sustainable University": What role can universities play in moving towards a society which thinks and acts sustainably?

Spin-offs have already been transforming research results into sustainable products and services for many years, but what is the influence of processes developed in this area of research on new teaching and learning methods? Not least, we also seek to adopt an internal perspective: how do organisations, students, and employees handle their own resources? The e-paper aims not only to answer the aforementioned questions, but also to give impetus to new questions. In addition, it details our presentation of selected ideas taken from the "UniGestalten" competition – which range from an innovative "Global Congress for Sustainability" to a "Public Welfare Balance Sheet for Universities".

E-Paper "Ideas for Tomorrow's Sustainable University"