Transformations

for sustainable development

Frankfurt Social Ecology

What kind of tasks is science faced with today? The pressure for change that is being exerted on today’s science is great: On the one hand, science faces increasing political and economic influence, on the other hand, the legitimate demand on science to provide the necessary knowledge to solve the problems of global change is growing. In addition, there is the demand to involve non-scientific actors in the production of scientific knowledge and the evaluation of its consequences.

For more than 25 years, ISOE has been addressing these challenges with the research programme of “Frankfurt Social Ecology”. Here the focus has been on the changed relationship between nature and society and on the question of how these societal conditions of nature can be recognized, evaluated and shaped. In our research programme, we combine basic and application-oriented research: we are dealing with the main theoretical questions of social ecology and provide insights in our project research that point to concrete ways to sustainable development. To this end, we always examine the complex structures of societal problems with a view to the different groups of actors from business, politics and society. For a comprehensive understanding of the problem, it is essential to understand the different expectations of the actors involved, as well as their relationships with each other and their options for action and decision-making in relation to political power relations.

We use a transdisciplinary mode of research in order to adequately address this complexity. The approaches and methods of transdisciplinary research are suitable to combine the findings of different scientific disciplines and the experiences and knowledge of different societal actors. Thus we are able to gain a profound understanding of social-ecological systems and a differentiated assessment of crisis situations. Our work focuses on water, energy, mobility and biodiversity. We examine the extent to which these issues are interrelated and how they are influenced by global developments. What role do, for example, urbanisation, climate change, biodiversity loss, or demographic developments play for a sustainable change of supply systems? At ISOE, the transdisciplinary methods suitable for these integration processes are constantly being further developed. That way, the alternatives presented by us achieve a greater acceptance and can be better implemented in practice since they constitute practicable ways towards a sustainable transformation of society.