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 RG 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?

2016: Denaturalizing Climate Change

In the context of the Mexican-German Year of Science and Technology, the Junge Akademie together with CIESAS Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social and artec Sustainability Research Center, 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 part 28-30 September 2016.

project page

2012: Exhibit "Using Energy Sustainably"

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

This joint project realised by the RG Sustainability, the University of Greifswald and wind power plant producer Enercon saw the interactive exhibit "Using Energy Sustainably" tour Germany and Austria on the MS Wissenschaft as part of the 2012 edition of the Science Year run by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 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 sustainably 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 moves 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 sees us present 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"

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