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Chair Group of Sustainability Governance

phyton-bridge-landscape.jpgWe are an interdisciplinary group of scholars working at the nexus of sustainability, science, and society. In our research and teaching, we combine approaches from Political Science, Sociology, Critical Geography, and Science & Technology Studies.

Our research is theory-driven and empirically grounded, often based on case studies with a reach from local to transnational and global levels. We have conducted research in various European, Latin American and African contexts.




In our work we, inter alia, focus on ...
  • environmental conflicts in geopolitical contexts;
  • dynamics of socio-technical transformations;
  • environmental injustice and just sustainabilities;
  • environmental knowledge politics;
  • professional epistemologies and cultures of expertise;
  • collective action – mobilization and resistance,

... in a broad spectrum of policy fields including biodiversity, climate change, energy, water, land-use, conservation, mining, and food.


In terms of scholarly strands, we build on various approaches including Political Ecology, Governmentality, Post-structuralist Policy Studies, Transition Studies, Science & Technology Studies (STS), Critical Peace and Conflict Studies, and Decolonial Theory.

Methodologically, our research largely draws on qualitative methods anchored in the critical interpretivist tradition of the social sciences and mixed methods. Inter- and transdisciplinarity are integral features of all our work as we seek to illuminate the possibilities and limits of these new principles of scientific problem-solving.

In our teaching, we emphasize principles of problem-based learning, intercultural competencies, and critical reflexivity based on perspective pluralism. With that, we strive to educate a new generation of reflexive sustainability governance practitioners and scholars.



Booklet by UrbanA project: Enabling Governance Arrangements for Sustainable and Just Cities (September 2021)
This booklet, authored by Sophia Silverton, Philipp Späth and Jakob Kramer from the Chair of Sustainability Governance, presents their work on governance for sustainable and just cities in the UrbanA project. The publication is aimed at helping city-makers (municipal officials, civil society members, private sector members etc.) as they design and implement local initiatives.
Benjamin Hennchen successfully defended his dissertation (Jan 2021)
For the last four years, Benjamin Hennchen has worked as a doctoral candidate and research associate in the project KERNiG. On January 27, 2021, he successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Local Food Systems as Fields of Practice and Knowledge: Analysis of Work in Professional Kitchens and the Organization of Urban Food Initiatives”. Congratulations, Dr. Benjamin!
New blog post and video from UrbanA project (March 2021)
In the preparation for its third so-called ‘Arena’, lead-hosted by Philipp Späth’s research group on Urban Sustainability Governance, the project ‘UrbanA – Urban Arenas for Sustainable and Just Cities’ held a webinar on “Learning between cities with governance scenarios”. The webinar is documented in a blog post and a short video featuring Sophia Silverton.
Publication of edited volume on environment, conflict and migration (April 2020)
From October 2017 to September 2018, Tim Krieger, Diana Panke, and Michael Pregernig led a project group on ‘Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Environmental Conflict and Related Migration’ at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (FRIAS). The key result of this cooperation is an edited volume published by Bristol University Press (BUP) in April 2020 exploring the interdependencies between environmental conflicts and migration, as well as the governance challenges in this respect.