Knowledge, Learning and Societal Change Alliance (KLASICA)

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address urgent and critical challenges of global change. These include, for example, efforts to reduce poverty, ensure equal opportunities, manage natural resources, and to protect the climate. Far-reaching economic, social, and ecological changes across different spatial scales and fields of governance will be necessary if these ambitious goals for sustainable development are to be achieved. But how can societal transformations towards sustainability and wiser resource use be initiated? The Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change Alliance (KLASICA) approaches this question as an international research network, working in cooperation with the Future Earth research initiative.

Understanding change processes

Researchers in the Alliance seek to identify the conditions and factors that foster or impede societal transformations towards a sustainable way of life. They will also study the capacity of social learning – a process that facilitates mutual learning between researchers and actors – to motivate and guide collective action. Researchers engage with the issue through the lenses of the social and natural sciences, arts, and humanities. The focus of this research lies in developing strategies for societal transformations that are underpinned by evidence-based research and theory.

Generating knowledge to enable and catalyse societal change

The aim of KLASICA is to engage researchers and actors in mutual learning processes that will develop their capacity to facilitate changes in collective thinking and behaviour that support shifts towards more sustainable futures in each appropriate context. In doing so, the project and the insights that it generates will foster change. The project’s outputs include workshops, symposia, conferences as well as peer-reviewed papers, dossiers and a website. The outcomes of the work will be assessed in terms of evidence of change at different temporal, organizational, and spatial scales.



Project partners:

  • Future Earth Transformations Knowledge-Action Network (KAN)
  • The symposium (in planning) will be hosted in cooperation with the Global Change Research Center of the National Taiwan University


Collective behavioural change for a sustainable future, societal transformation processes, models and narratives in societal change processes


Scientific Project Leader: Prof. Dr Ilan Chabay

Senior Research Associate: Angela Borowski

Supervising Directors: Prof. Ortwin Renn, Prof. Mark Lawrence

The KLASICA Alliance announces its first webinar in 2017, which will start on January 30 at 13:00 UTC (14:00 CET). Heinz Gutscher, Professor Emeritus of the University of Zurich, will give a 30-minute presentation on the topic of “Change – Some Basic Preconditions”, followed by a 30-minute discussion.

The webinar aims at basic social psychological preconditions for behavior change and societal change. Among the questions discussed are: Why are people normally not enthusiastic about change; what are keys to individual change; the fundamental role of values and how knowledge about values can be used in the change process; how does individual change lead to societal change; what types of change; what are objects of change; what is the role of scientists within change processes; what practical tools of change are available?

Heinz Gutscher got his PhD from the University of Zurich (1975, summa cum laude). He was a full professor of Social Psychology, Department of Psychology, UZH (1990-2012). Educational sojourns led him to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and to the University of Essex, Colchester. His major field of interests cover processes of social influence; social trust, sustainability; energy, mobility, consumption, waste and new technologies. He currently is an international advisor of several research programs, member of the Scientific Committee of Future Earth and chair of ProClim, Forum for Climate and Global Change at the Swiss Academy of Science. He is Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology, University of Zurich (UZH), Switzerland.

To register for the webinar, please contact Angela Borowski.