Sustainability and democracy are closely intertwined. The transformation towards sustainability requires democratic processes that are both sustainable and adaptable. There are no definitive solutions; instead, what is needed is continuous development and the implementation of new policy ideas. In the area "Democracy and Sustainability", the focus lies on understanding how transformations towards sustainability take place and how they can be shaped democratically.
The research questions of this area are: How can the relationship between democracy and sustainability be studied? What theories can be used and developed to understand sustainability transformations in democratic societies? How can these sustainability transformations be implemented in society?
The research groups in this area concentrate on local and regional transformation processes. The investigators take a transdisciplinary approach: They do not simply act as observers but work with actors from all sectors of society on transformations towards sustainability. Research questions and results are thus generated in close cooperation with civil society and actors from politics and administration. The research groups develop knowledge and process designs for social, economic and ecological transformations at the interface of democracy and sustainability.
The research group "Co-Creation in Democratic Practice" explores the transformative potential of co-creative processes in fields of practice where different perspectives and ideas for addressing societal challenges meet, e.g. in relation to public space and mobility. The group's approach encompasses three directions:
- The inter- and transdisciplinary research of co-creative processes in order to close central research gaps, e.g. on interdependencies; in the process, recommendations for action are generated.
- Exchange with and networking of "communities of practices" of those who develop, organise and implement these processes.
- The co-development and testing of collaborative prototypes together with social actors, especially from politics, public administration and civil society. This group especially focuses on processes of participatory and deliberative democracy such as citizens' assemblies and public meetings.
The research group "Regional Sustainability Transformations" investigates, among other things, the social, cultural and political implications of the coal phase-out in Germany. This group advises state governments, among them those of Saxony and Brandenburg. New forms of collaboration are developed, at the local level and between different sectors, to gain a deeper understanding of citizens' motivations for acting and to explore the transformative potential of engaged social science.
The research group "Democratic Governance for Ecopolitical Transformations" analyses processes and transformations arising from the political practices and knowledge systems that constitute the whole Earth as an object of governance and explores the challenges and opportunities for democratic governance with a planetary horizon. In particular, they focus on the epistemic, political and economic transformations taking place in areas of global relevance such as the Amazon Basin, with a special focus on climate policy. This group takes a transdisciplinary approach, inviting different sectors of society to reflect on power dynamics and environmental conflicts and to explore new democratic realities, for example through the joint creation of an international transformative network for the Amazon rainforest.