Research

The IASS fosters science and research on global sustainability. To achieve this, the Institute:

  • conducts inter- and transdisciplinary research on current and emerging sustainability issues with the aim of fostering transformations towards sustainability;
  • supports dialogue at the interface of science, policy, civil society, and the private sector;
  • forms strategic partnerships within and beyond academia;
  • communicates its findings to decision-makers in the political sphere, the private sector, civil society and the public at large through appropriate channels and media products; and
  • invites both academic and non-academic experts to pursue innovative ideas and to enhance and support established strategic dialogues.

The Board of Directors has developed three overarching research questions to guide the work of the IASS in its second funding period (2017–2021) with the aim of enhancing target, systems, and transformation knowledge:

  • What are the characteristics of a sustainable society?
  • What knowledge is needed in order to understand transformation processes towards sustainability, and how can this knowledge be generated in cooperation with actors from science, politics, the private sector, and civil society?
  • What processes are required (and how should they be designed) in order to effectively apply this knowledge in the development of concrete transformation processes towards more sustainable societies?

The research programme for the funding period from 2017 to 2021 is based on projects and currently spans 36 research projects (20 core-funded projects and 16 third-party funded projects):

  • Climate & Air Quality

    Greenhouse gas emissions from human sources have increased dramatically since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. This has led to a 40 per cent increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750. There is strong scientific consensus that climate change and its various effects,...
  • Co-Creation and Contemporary Policy Advice

    The transdisciplinary approach to research practiced at the IASS fosters dialogue between academia, policymakers, civil society, and the business sector. Building on this experience, “Co-creation and Contemporary Policy Advice” studies the implementation of multi-stakeholder processes resulting...

  • Digitalisation

    Recent years have seen a proliferation of digital technologies throughout the economy and in everyday life. The challenges and opportunities presented by this development are the subject of increasing debate in the media, society, and the policy community. Prominent themes within these...
  • Energy

    The decarbonisation of the energy system is among the most important challenges of the twenty-first century. The energy sector accounts for approximately two thirds of global CO2 emissions. Hence, the development of a low-carbon energy supply based on renewable sources represents an essential...
  • Futures

    The future is ever present. We encounter the future in scientific calculations and the justifications that legitimise policies and interventions; it is the subject of insurance policies and financial products. Futures – and the myriad reflections of the future in the present – open and shape...
  • Governance

    Establishing enabling environments is critical to putting societies on a pathway towards sustainable development. Politicians, citizens, businesses, and civil society organizations all play a role in the negotiations leading to sustainable transformations.
     
    The IASS...
  • Narratives & Mindsets

    What do people associate with sustainability? What are the routes and structures that facilitate the adoption of behavior towards sustainable lifestyles, including eating habits and energy consumption? The knowledge about the drivers and promoters of collective behavioral changes is crucial...
  • Oceans and Arctic

    Global change processes induce a multitude of hazards and challenges for the oceans and entire regions such as the Arctic. Overfishing, pollution, climate change, or the destruction of natural habitats have severely harmed nearly half of the world's oceans. If we are to prevent the collapse...
  • Science Platform Sustainability 2030

    The IASS hosts a science platform in cooperation with selected partners to support the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to make contributions to the recently adopted national strategy on sustainability. The platform will lend the Sustainable...

  • Soils

    Soils form the basis for more than 95 per cent of all food produced worldwide. They are a significant source of biodiversity, and their capacity to store carbon slows the pace of global warming. However, billions of tonnes of soil are either lost to erosion or sealing every year. The human...
  • Systemic Risks

    The growing complexity of our world makes it increasingly difficult to forecast risks with any reliability. Systemic risks differ from conventional risks in a number of respects: they are both highly complex and intertwined with other risks, and their impacts are spread across diverse areas...