Deutsch Intern
Institute of Political Science and Sociology

International Kick-off Workshop 10-12 November 2022

The international kick-off workshop of the "Forum Nachhaltigkeit" at the Institute of Political Science and Sociology Würzburg brought together researchers from Germany and France to discuss challenges, forward-looking research questions and practical implications of inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research. The event was organized in cooperation with the "Pôle 5: Environment, Climate, Energy: Societies and their Ecological Challenges" of the Centre Marc Bloch Berlin.

Workshop 1: State of the art

The first workshop began with a welcome address by Jun.-Prof. Ulrike Zeigermann. Participants from political science, sociology, law, history, and economics presented their respective understandings of sustainability to develop a common state of social science sustainability research. In the discussion it became clear that all three dimensions of sustainability (ecological, social and economic) are interdependent. With accelerating climate change, the temporal dimension was also emphasized. Paradigms of weak and strong sustainability, approaches of social science uncertainty and complexity research, as well as the broadening of the concept of sustainability and its use in different scientific contexts were also discussed. The central challenge was to arrive at a common concept of sustainability.

Panel discussion: Challenges

A "fishbowl discussion" took place from 1pm to 3pm. It was not only open to students and researchers but also to the public as part of the Public Climate School. Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Zeigermann (Professorship of Social Science Sustainability Studies) started the discussion with a keynote speech on multiple crises and the associated challenges for social science sustainability studies. Anja Zürn (Researcher at the Chair of International Relations and European Studies) welcomed the discussants Dr. Christian Göpfert (Climate Protection Officer of the City of Würzburg), Prof. Dr. Ronald Bogaschewsky (Chair of Business Administration and Industrial Management for Scientists for Future Würzburg), Matthias Pieper (Zukunftshaus Würzburg) and Dr. Benjamin Beuerle (Senior Researcher at Centre Marc Bloch). The focus was on questions about research gaps and practical needs in sustainability studies as well as the relationship between science, politics and practice. New ideas included possibilities for cooperation between the city of Würzburg and the University of Würzburg, education for sustainable development in teaching, international research cooperations, interdisciplinary projects and the sustainability of the scientific community itself. 

Workshop 2: Potentials

The second workshop was dedicated to the potential of interdisciplinary sustainability studies and teaching. In the discussion on future-oriented questions, it became clear that the participants were concerned with very different topics. In particular, the understanding of sustainability, the significance of sustainability studies as a discipline and the self-image of the scientists provided for interesting debates. It became clear that transdisciplinarity is gaining momentum for future research. The participants agreed that interdisciplinary approaches and the co-production of knowledge through the cooperation of scientists with practitioners represent a focal point of sustainability studies. This approach also requires moving away from anthropocentric perspectives to leave sufficient space for nature and the environment.

Workshop 3: Outlook

The third workshop served as a joint outlook for the “Forum Nachhaltigkeit”. The aim of future cooperation is the development of inter- and transdisciplinary research questions, regular exchange, and networking. Further events are planned for 2023, including a three-part lecture series on the topic of "Transformative sustainability knowledge in the field of tension between normativity and normality".

The next meeting of the “Forum Nachhaltigkeit” will take place right at the beginning of the new year. Interested people are cordially invited to join the next meeting on 25.01.2022 from 2pm to 4pm in room 03.103. For questions and information, please contact Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Zeigermann.