Foto: Rainer Sturm / pixelio

Sustainability Narratives

The aim of our research

The Sustainability Narratives Group is committed to (1) identifying narratives of sustainability transformations and (2) examining whether and how these narratives promote sustainability. We understand sustainability as a balance between environmental, social and economic considerations that ensures the well-being of all life forms, while acknowledging the interdependence of all living things and ecosystems. A sustainability narrative is a story that links social or physical phenomena to transformations towards sustainability. It connects people, events, and actions in a plot, thereby including, excluding, and emphasizing certain problems, solutions, and actors. Every narrative provides a ‘moral compass’ to distinguish ‘right’ from ‘wrong’.
Our focus is on sustainability narratives related to establishing ‘new sustainable economies’ such as circular economy, bio-economy, and sharing economy. Specific research foci include, for instance, ‘just’ energy transitions, digitalization, smart and resilient cities, as well as low carbon technologies and mobilities. We ask: How do these narratives impact the way stakeholders negotiate where society should go and how transformations should be designed and governed? How do the narratives shape (and are shaped by) the time, the space and the scale at which novel ideas are implemented, and how narratives can support the advancement of science for sustainability transformation.
Our research draws upon expertise in political and social science, complemented by environmental, and engineering science approaches. We apply both qualitative and quantitative methods at micro, meso and macro levels and create impact through transformative research and teaching projects, collaborating with the natural sciences, policy, civil society and industry. We further communicate our results through publications, lectures, and social media to advance sustainability transformations.

Current Projects

→ Themenkolleg Governance Monitor

→ Identifying key factors that make sustainable mobility transitions last

→ Parts of Future Landscapes

You will find an overview of all current and completed projects in this research field in our project list.