30 years of research for sustainable development

ISOE – Institute for Social Ecological Research was founded in Frankfurt in 1989. We can now look back on 30 years’ experience of transdisciplinary sustainability research. It all began with the ‘Social Ecology Research Group’ commissioned by the Hesse State government to draw up an expertise on social ecological research in Hesse.


A research group is commissioned by the Hesse State government to compile an expertise on social ecology


The Institute gets to work: first projects for the City of Frankfurt and Greenpeace


Launch of institutional funding by the State of Hesse

Model project ‘Water Culture’: development of an integrated concept for decentralised recycling and differentiated water usage


Positive assessment from the German Science Council

Project on Sustainable Urban Mobility/CITY:mobil: a trandisciplinary approach for linking up lifestyle research, traffic planning and urban development


The first international project and a milestone in the sustainability debate: Sustainability as a Concept in the Social Sciences, conducted on behalf of UNESCO


Consumption Patterns in Germany: A Pilot Study on Sustainable Consumption, conducted on behalf of the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)


Practical implementation of an integrated renovation concept based on the Sustainable Renovation of Existing Housing Stock (NASA) project, for housing developments built in the 1960s


The conceptual framework for the new funding priority ‘Social Ecological Research’ of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is drawn up


ISOE receives the Swiss Transdisciplinarity Award for excellent transdisciplinary research projects

Analysis of the EU’s 5th Framework Programme for Research under gender-specific aspects (Gender Impact Assessment), conducted on behalf of the European Commission


The first ISOE junior research group dedicated to population dynamics and supply systems, demons, funded by the BMBF


Founding of the research association ‘Modelling Nature-Society Systems – MOMUS’ in collaboration with the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main


First publication of quality criteria for transdisciplinary research as a result of Evalunet, a project funded under the Social-Ecological Research programme of the BMBF

Development of an integrated prognosis model for the water requirements of Greater Hamburg up until 2030 on behalf of the Hamburg Waterworks


Publication of the seminal book: Social Ecology: Outline of a Science of Societal Relations to Nature

Launch of the CuveWaters project in Namibia: entry into transdisciplinary development research and co-operation


ISOE becomes a partner in the new ‘LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F)’, along with the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN) and the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main


Social ecology becomes a subject area within the master’s programme “Environmental Sciences” at the Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main


ISOE further develops the social-ecological approach to climate research: Start of the projects „KlimaAlltag“ and “micle – migration, climate & environment in the sahel”


ISOE is co-initiator of the memorandum on the development of social-ecological research in Germany “Understanding – Evaluating – Shaping. Transdisciplinary Knowledge for a Sustainable Society”

Book Publication “Methods for Transdisciplinary Research”


ISOE celebrates its 25th anniversary


Completion of the CuveWaters research and development project after almost ten years with events in Namibia


Start of the junior research group „PlastX – Plastics as a systemic risk for social-ecological supply systems“

Evaluation on ISOE by the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat)


ISOE celebrates its 30th anniversary


Start of the junior research group “regulate – Sustainable Groundwater Management in Europe”


First professorship for social ecology and transdisciplinarity in Germany