Sustainable Science in the Anthropocene

Problems of sustainability on an unprecedented scale are the most striking feature of the Anthropocene, the epoch of humankind. The pressure to act is growing worldwide – also on science. It is no longer a matter of dispute that transformations into sustainable development are urgently needed. However, the following question is controversial: How can we succeed in shaping a social-ecological future if this requires joint action in the present? 

ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research – has been critically examining questions like this for a long time. Most recently, during our conference in November 2019, we discussed the necessity of social-ecological transformation processes and how they can be shaped. With the publication “Shaping social-ecological transformations in the Anthropocene” we are presenting the results of our conference for further discussion and make a proposal as to the principles according to which transformation processes can be successfully shaped from our point of view. In this way, we are following up on earlier discussion impulses that also emerged in the wake of ISOE conferences. 

In our contribution “Sustainable Science in the Anthropocene” from 2016, we pointed out that the the designation “Anthropocene” for our era is profoundly changing the relationship between the natural and social sciences, and between society and science. We argued in favour of strengthening science as a critical authority, making it more transdisciplinary, and including forms of societal participation in the scientific knowledge process. 

In the earlier publication “Science for Sustainable Development Requires a Critical Orientation”, we had already shown why and how science itself must change its structures and working methods in order to produce knowledge for society and politics that is reliable as well as useful for sustainable developments.

ISOE conference 2019 
„Aufbruch in die Gegenwart. Die sozial-ökologische Zukunft heute gestalten“ 

Jahn, Thomas/Diana Hummel/Lukas Drees/Stefan Liehr/Alexandra Lux/Marion Mehring/Immanuel Stieß/Carolin Völker/Martina Winker/Martin Zimmermann (2020): Sozial-ökologische Gestaltung im Anthropozän. GAIA 29 (2), 93-97

Jahn, Thomas/Diana Hummel/Lukas Dress/Stefan Liehr/Alexandra Lux/Marion Mehring/Immanuel Stieß/Carolin Völker/Martina Winker/Martin Zimmermann (2020): Shaping social-ecological transformations in the Anthropocene. ISOE-Diskussionspapiere, 45. Frankfurt am Main

ISOE conference 2014 
„Lost in the Anthropocene? – Nachhaltige Wissenschaft in der Epoche der Menschheit“

Jahn, Thomas/Diana Hummel/Engelbert Schramm (2015): Nachhaltige Wissenschaft im Anthropozän. GAIA 24 (2), 92-95

Jahn, Thomas/Diana Hummel/Engelbert Schramm (2016): Sustainable Science in the Anthropocene. ISOE-Diskussionspapiere, 40. Frankfurt am Main 

ISOE conference 2012
„wahrhaft nützlich. Was kritische Nachhaltigkeitsforschung ausmacht“

Jahn, Thomas (2013): Wissenschaft für eine Nachhaltige Entwicklung braucht eine kritische Orientierung. GAIA 1, 29-33

Jahn, Thomas (2016): Science for Sustainable Development Requires a Critical Orientation. ISOE-Diskussionspapiere, 39. Frankfurt am Main 


Head of Knowledge Communication and Public Relations
Head of Knowledge Communication and Public Relations
+49 69 7076919-30