Governance and Participation

Creating change together: Interest in public participation and social dialogue around political processes has surged in recent years but what role do citizens, municipal enterprises, public authorities, and civil society actors play in public decision-making, consultation, and negotiation processes? The “Governance and Participation” project explores different aspects of participation in order to improve our understandings of political, social, and economic participation within multi-level governance systems and of how specific structures and modes of participation contribute to the success or failure of participatory processes.

Exploring varieties of transformative participation

Researchers working on this project study different forms of political and economic participation within the context of socio-ecological transformations to assess their potential to foster change and to identify incompatibilities and trade-offs. The German energy transition, environmental movements, urban development, the transformation of agriculture, and digitalisation form a particular focus of these research activities. These research activities seek to understand how current governance arrangements and political economies shape the behaviours and actions of actors, and to gauge the prospects for democratic transformations towards sustainability. This work will contribute to the formation of theory across and within the fields of participation, governance, and transformation.

Project outputs will include doctoral and habilitation theses as well as transdisciplinary workshops and scientific publications. The project will also seek to establish a dialogue with partners from science and civil society on sustainable alternatives and their potential implementation.


01/2017 to 12/2020

Project partners:



Democracy, public participation, governance, deliberation, social-ecological transformation, societal transformation, processes, structures


Scientific Project Leader: Dr Ariane Götz

Research Associates: Giulia Molinengo, Boris Gotchev, Kristin Nicolaus, Ina Richter, Daniela Setton

Supervising Directors: Prof. Patrizia Nanz, Prof. Ortwin Renn