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What we work on

Transformative Sustainability Research

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) conducts research with the goal of understanding, advancing, and guiding processes of societal change towards sustainable development. Our researchers collaborate with diverse actors from science, policymaking and public administration as well as business and civil society to develop a common understanding of sustainability challenges and generate potential solutions. The Institute pursues a research approach that is transformative, transdisciplinary, and co-creative.

About us

In brief

Webinar on hydrogen

A webinar on 5 December 2022, co-organised by the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and the IASS, examines the recent interest in hydrogen energy among political and economic leaders in the oil and gas-producing states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The future of food

On 29 November, International Tuesday in Potsdam is all about food. Among the guests is the nutritionist Dr. Ina Henkel, who researches insects as food. Guests can also try party food snacks made from edible insects.

BBC broadcast with Andreas Goldthau

Europe's LNG shopping spree prices poorer countries out of the market. Who gets the gas simply is a question of purchasing power, says Andreas Goldthau (IASS/Uni Erfurt) in a BBC broadcast.


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Europe needs more strategic crisis management

The European Union faces a growing number of complex, overlapping, transboundary crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It must better prepare for and respond to them, according to the scientific and ethical opinion delivered to the EU Commission at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Nov. 22, 2022.

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Democratic governance

Podcast Explores Carbon’s Role in Politics

In a new podcast series, IASS researchers discuss the role of carbon in climate and sustainability politics. They talk to academics, activists and artists whose work has influenced their own research on the transformations of our carbon-dependent society. In the third episode, philosopher and sociologist Maurizio Lazzarato discusses his recent book “Capital hates everyone: Fascism or Revolution” in which he argues that capital functions in a logic of war, dominating ever more aspects of social life and turning liberal societies increasingly less democratic. In the episode the theses of the book are discussed and how they are connected to the climate crisis.

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Deliberative Mini-Publics Dossier

Deliberative mini-publics are participatory processes in which a randomly selected and heterogenous group of citizens cooperate for a period to develop recommendations, ideas or solutions on a specific issue. The IASS accompanies these processes in various roles.

IASS Focal Topic 2022

Justice in Sustainability Dossier

The issue of justice is increasingly playing a greater role in the transformation towards sustainability. Calls to improve justice outcomes touch on a variety of issues, in particular the distribution of the costs and benefits of transformations as well as the burdens of climate change and environmental degradation. Other claims target procedural aspects: Who should have access to decision-making about transformation towards sustainability? A third set of justice claims focuses on recognition: Which groups are or should be recognized as rights-holders or as affected or especially vulnerable populations?

Sustainability in Brandenburg Dossier

Brandenburg is facing major sustainability challenges, such as agrarian transformation, energy transformation, mobility transformation, transformation of Lusatia, adaptation to climate change, promotion of rural areas, revitalisation of the economy after the Corona pandemic, and water supply and water protection. As a Potsdam institute, the IASS is actively involved in sustainability work in Brandenburg.

Systemic Risks Dossier

Modern societies are vulnerable to “systemic risks” such as pandemics, financial crises, or climate change. Due to their complex and interconnected nature, systemic risks pose a particular challenge to conventional approaches to risk analysis and management. The research group on systemic risks at the IASS analyses risks and opportunities around transformation processes for sustainable development and, in a second step, develops policy recommendations for the governance of systemic risks.