Deutsch Intern
Institute of Political Science and Sociology

Examples from our Courses

The SowiNa program offers students in-depth insights into the challenges and opportunities arising from the complex dynamics in sustainability transformations in diverse teaching, learning and exchange formats. In interactive seminars, digital and analogue methods and forms of examination are used to reflect on current theoretical and empirical issues in social science sustainability studies. In the following, results from teaching projects are presented.

Workshop: "Biodiversity in the Governance Trap?" in the summer semester 2022

During this workshop in summer 2022, the topic of biodiversity was examined from the perspective of social science sustainability studies. The focus was on two main issues. On the one hand, the governance of biodiversity by institutions and actors in the political multi-level system was studied and evaluated for its effectiveness. On the other hand, we discussed the mobilisation of biodiversity issues in social movements and examined approaches for the future of biodiversity policy.

After a tour in the botanical garden with an exciting introduction to the topic of biodiversity by the curator of the botanical garden Dr. Gerd Vogg, we studied the institutional challenges of biodiversity governance. These institutional challenges were presented by Group I (Carina, Julian, Jacqueline and Franziska) based on the literature. Afterwards, various case studies - among others on the protection of the Amazon region in Brazil to the problem of gravel gardens - served for discussion and critical reflection on current developments in the multi-level political system.

After a break outside in the garden, Group II (Lesley, Isabelle, Levi, Kim, Theresa and Vanessa) presented the actors of biodiversity governance and their complex interactions. Here, not only the diversity of civil society, economic, political and scientific actors in decision-making processes on biodiversity became clear, but also the associated conflicts of interest.

The different perspectives on actors and institutions of biodiversity governance were finally brought together in a simulation, which had been developed by Group II for the workshop. The aim was to better understand the local implementations of global biodiversity goals with a role play of the Würzburg Biodiversity Day 2023. The focus was on the interactions of different civil society actors from non-governmental organisations and environmental movements in order to first experience aspects such as collective action, places and forms of protest and questions about the effectiveness of activist initiatives in a playful way and then to reflect on them scientifically.

Seminar "Sustainable Development - Political Processes and Social Transformation" in the winter semester 2021/2022

In the seminar "Sustainable Development - Political Processes and Social Transformation", which was conducted by Ulrike Zeigermann and Juliana Hilf (University of Magdeburg) in the winter semester 2021/2022, the students dealt with central concepts of sustainability. The aim of the seminar was to identify and structure the fundamental questions and research fields of social science sustainability studies. 

In the first part of the online seminar, elevator pitches and discussions based on relevant literature served to critically examine transformation processes for sustainability. In the second part of the seminar, the students were given the task of applying their knowledge of the various dimensions of sustainability to a selected project and creating a podcast (as a new medium of science communication). In our opinion, the results of the group work are worth seeing - or rather hearing!

Topic 1 - Justice and social responsibility (social dimension)

A podcast by Franziska Kleemann, Jacqueline Mbalyohere and Levi Rohmberg.

We want to discuss a new perspective on the sustainability debate in our roundtable. It's about social inequality and justice, the social responsibility that everyone has and - perhaps surprisingly for you - happiness. Because we want to introduce you to the Happy Planet Index. It combines the social, economic and ecological dimensions of sustainability with questions of (social) justice and personal well-being. How well does Germany perform? And who is the international frontrunner? And what does that mean for each individual? We will address all these questions in this podcast. Have fun listening!

Topic 2 - Democracy and participation (political dimension)

A podcast by Carina Kertscher and Lesley Pfeifer

Take: the climate crisis, many unanswered questions, 160 people with 160 opinions, a lot of scientific expertise and many hours of endurance. Et voilà: The package of solutions for climate protection. Or is it just wishful thinking after all? In this podcast, we look at the instrument of the citizens' council as a possible answer to the current challenges of representative democracies in times of climate change. We present how the first nationwide Citizens' Council on Climate 2021 was organised and talk to a student who became a member by lot. In addition, Professor Dr Ellen Matthies from the University of Magdeburg, scientist at Scientists for Future and member of the scientific board of trustees of the Citizens' Council on Climate, reports on her experiences in this body and the potential of citizens' councils.

Topic 3 - Sustainability and economic growth (economic dimension)

A podcast by Julian Höfner and Theresa Mühlheck

How will we do business in the future? In this podcast we want to look at the solidarity economy as an alternative to growth-oriented economic models. For this we have also invited a guest: Erich Morgenstern from the solidarity-based agriculture Schweinfurt. Erich Morgenstern will give us an insight into how the solidarity economy is implemented in practice and what challenges it faces.

Topic 4 - Culture and nature (ecological dimension)

A podcast by Kim Brenner and Isabelle Südmeyer.

We talk about what Federal Garden Shows (BUGAs) are and what phases there are. We want to find out what BUGAs have to do with the concepts of "nature" and "culture" and what role sustainability plays in the planning and implementation of Federal Garden Shows. Have fun listening!