THE PROJECT BACKGROUND
Societal Challenges Today
Nowdays, one of the major challenges faced by science, business, civil society and politics is countering negative environmental impacts (e.g. loss of biodiversity, climate change and consequences) and social inequalities. The globally rising level of consumption is accompanied by an enormous use of resources and energy. Problems of scarcity and availability as well as price fluctuation lead – in addition to environmental destruction – to political dependencies and intensify existing social problem areas (e.g. access to clean water / air, poverty, etc.).
We Are the First Generation that Can End Poverty, the Last that Can End Climate Change
Ban-Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General from 2007 to 2016
ON THE WAY TO A SUSTAINABLE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT – THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs)
Against this background, the international community reaffirmed the goal of sustainable social development in 2015 – following on from a number of predecessor processes. The aim is to achieve a social transformation whose lines of development are based on planetary borders, social standards and a secure economic livelihood. In order to ensure such a development, 17 goals – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – were defined (see figure). The goals were set out in the Agenda 2030 (see UN 2015).
In particular, the path to this goal places central importance on bridging disciplinary, sectoral and institutional boundaries and on the cooperation of all social actors.
EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSFORMATIVE RESEARCH
The UNESCO World Action Programme Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) (2015-2019) is aimed at familiarising citizens with everyday and global sustainability issues and requirements, and at imparting the relevant competencies.
Sustainable transformation processes and research require a systemic view of the complex conditions and lines of development. Frequently, there is no reliable knowledge of the pressing questions and necessary development processes (system knowledge of the initial situation, sustainable target knowledge and transformation knowledge with regard to the process design).
Also pioneers are needed to initiate and accompany such processes – so-called Change Agents of sustainability. The skills required for this can be learned. Universities and colleges are suitable places for learning these competencies because interdisciplinary research approaches (across disciplines) already play a major role here. Approaches and methods of transdisciplinary and transformative research are beginning to spread.
In the context of transformative research, Real-world Laboratories have proven to be a fruitful approach. One of their characteristics is that they tie in with real-world problems and involve non-university partners in the research and learning process. This project builds on this by developing and testing a so-called Transformative Innovation Lab.
The concrete aim of the project are:
- to develop a didactic concept for the implementation and realisation of a Transformative Innovation Lab for the training of Change Agents for sustainability at universities
- to implement the pilot in two Master’s programs (Leuphana University of Lüneburg – Sustainability Sciences and Freie Universität Berlin – Futurology)
- to accompany and evaluate the implementation and empowerment process at both universities across two cohorts and to adapt the didactic concept on the basis of the findings gained
- to develop an interactive simulation role play, which introduces the participants playfully to the challenges of sustainable development from a systemic perspective and allows them to experience the necessity of a sustainable societal transformation
- to promote the networking of stakeholders from sustainability research, the various educational sectors and other relevant actors
- to derive scaling strategies and to promote their dissemination and implementation in other universities and other educational sectors