German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat)

Evaluation on ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research

On the 11th of July, the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) has published its evaluation on ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research. The report acknowledges the central role that the Institute plays in the field of sustainability research and, with Frankfurt’s Social Ecology, pays tribute to an ambitious research program. ISOE is an independent, non-university research institute in Frankfurt/Main. The 'Wissenschaftsrat' confirmed that the Institute has made a valuable contribution to establishing and developing social-ecological research in Germany.

"We interpret this altogether very positive evaluation of our work in the fields of research, academic teaching, transfer and consultancy as a remit to further develop our content-related as well as our methodological skills at a high level," says the spokesperson of the executive board and co-founder of ISOE, Thomas Jahn. "The recommendations made by the ‘Wissenschaftsrat’ are in line with the development plan of ISOE which aims to further strengthen basic research while simultaneously intensifying our consulting activities."

"In future, we want to continue to fulfill the pioneering role in sustainability research which the 'Wissenschaftsrat' has awarded ISOE," says Jahn. According to Jahn, ISOE’s development plan includes amongst others the expansion of national and international collaborations and focusing on the research fields of integrated water research, applied lifestyle research in the areas of climate protection, energy and mobility, as well as social-ecological biodiversity research.

According to the Council, one of the unique characteristics of ISOE is its expertise in connecting theory and practice. The report states that the Institute successfully implements the concept of transdisciplinarity, thus providing action-relevant knowledge for different actors. ISOE has played a key role in shaping transdisciplinary research, both conceptually and methodologically: Transdisciplinary research connects various forms of knowledge and disciplines and involves stakeholders from society, politics and business in the research process. ISOE’s research includes a particular focus on quality assurance and the further development of transdisciplinary methods.

Innovative methodology, future orientated research topics and cooperations

The report of the 'Wisenschftsrat' attests that ISOE performs socio-empirical lifestyle research at an extremely high level, especially within the two research units „Energy and Climate Protection in Everyday Life“ and „Mobility and Urban Spaces“. Using the example of the German-Namibian research project CuveWaters, the 'Wissenschaftsrat' recognizes the ISOE’s contributions to a further development of water research. According to the Council, this particular project also demonstrates very well that ISOE’s methodological work can be applied to future-relevant issues, e.g. adaptation to climate change. Against the backdrop of growing pressure on freshwater resources around the world, ISOE is developing sustainable water use strategies in several research projects in Africa.

The Council emphasizes ISOE’s importance as a strategic partner and catalyst in the Frankfurt Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center (BiK-F). ISOE is a founding member of BiK-F. According to the Council, ISOE not only successfully adds its social-ecological perspective to BiK-F, which now is part of the Leibniz-Association, but has also shown to be open to new research topics. The 'Wissenschaftsrat' highlights the Institute’s collaboration with the Goethe University of Frankfurt. The report points out that here ISOE makes important contributions in research, academic teaching and in the training of young scientists.

The Hessian Ministry of Education and Research (HMWK) which supports ISOE with institutional funding, had granted the contract for the scientific evaluation of ISOE in May 2014.


  • Statement of the 'Wissenschaftsrat' on ISOE (PDF in German).
  • Press photo (from left to right: PD Dr. Diana Hummel, Dr. Engelbert Schramm, Dr. Thomas Jahn; Source: ISOE)
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