Headline: 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 discursive spaces and thus impose order on our world.

This research project considers the specific characteristics of these futures and the methods by which they are created. What futures are imagined; how are they conceptualised; and what are their social ordering effects? The project also explores how futures can be constructed to support transformations towards sustainability: How must futures be configured to successfully foster greater awareness of long-term impacts in present-day policymaking and societal practices?

Reviewing the field of climate engineering, researchers at the IASS examine how futures are created and enacted. What are the dominant imaginaries; how are uncertainties understood and represented; and what are the consequences at the science-policy interface? The researchers also address broader issues of futurisation across the fields of politics, economics and education, and explores opportunities to enhance the representation of future generations. Other research activities consider the prospects for sustainable, long-term financial instruments and the development of educational projects to foster conscious reflection on the future.


Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia

How is life in Lusatia set to change with the end of its coal-mining industry? What opportunities for sustainable social and economic dynamics does this present? And what can be done to ensure that the transformation of the region is democratic and fair? This project investigates processes of change in Lusatia and offers support and guidance to political and civil society actors in this context.

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Implementing the Paris Agreement - Overcoming Barriers and Identifying Drivers for Effective Climate Governance

The Paris Climate Agreement has been in force since November 2016. The countries that have adopted the agreement must now develop a regulatory regime for its implementation, deliver on their proposed commitments, and develop these further as the process progresses. This project analyses the main barriers to and drivers of implementation and examines the courses of action open to different actors.

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Climate Engineering in Science, Society and Politics

Even with ambitious climate action, the impacts of climate change are set to increase massively. In this context, interest in climate engineering measures is growing. However, alongside considerations of their technical feasibility, these interventions in the climate system raise fundamental political, cultural and ethical questions.

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Futurisation of Politics

Nuclear waste, climate change, the coal phaseout: Decisions made today on issues like these can have far-reaching consequences for individuals, societies, and ecosystems in the future. This project explores how contemporary decision-making in politics, society, and the economy can be better aligned with the uncertainties of our future - and asks what measures are needed to achieve this.

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Blog Posts

The log and the flame: what fire can teach us about the transformation towards sustainability

The “Green Me Global Festival for Sustainability” is an annual event hosted at different locations around the world. Recent iterations of the festival have explored the elements earth, water and air across film screenings, discussions, and other initiatives. Researchers from the IASS have contributed to a number of these events over the years. The eleventh GreenMe Festival will take place in Berlin later this year under the motto “Action, Passion, Fire”. This prompted me to explore the themes of fire and sustainability in a dinner speech at a recent function to which sponsors and supporters of the festival were invited in early May. The following essay draws upon my comments there.

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