Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society

Dear Subscribers,

GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 3/2015 has just been released. The latest issue features, amongst others, the winning entry of the 2015 GAIA Masters Student Paper Award entitled Well-being and Prosperity beyond Growth, a design report on the inter- and transdisciplinary research programme AlpFUTUR, which investigated the Prospects of Swiss Alpine Farming, and a discussion of Risks of Deep Geothermal Energy and their social acceptance.

Moreover, we are pleased to announce that a new column Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity will start in this issue, guest-edited by Gabriele Bammer. It will feature toolkits of methods relevant to dealing with complex problems from both the transdisciplinary community and others with intersecting interests. The semi-regular column aims to alert GAIA readers to useful toolkits of methods for conducting transdisciplinary research. If you would like to contribute a toolkit description, please contact >

Last but not least, we would like to thank authors, reviewers and board members for their contributions to our journal.

We hope you will enjoy browsing through the table of contents below.
Your Editorial Team

Almut Joedicke, Ulrike Sehy, Tobias Mickler, Martina Blum

We invite article submissions related to inter- or transdisciplinary environmental and sustainability research. For further information click here. >

Our special offer for students - valid until the end of 2015: Get a 50 percent discount on the regular subscription fee (52.40 EUR only, instead of 104.75 EUR). Subscribe here. >

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Transdisciplinarity: Overcoming Fragmentation and Powerlessness >
Gabriele Bammer
reading sample >

Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity - Toolkit #1: td-net Toolbox for Co-producing Knowledge compiled by Christian Pohl and Gabriela Wülser
(open access)
Gabriele Bammer

Die Eigenlogik der Wissenschaft neu verhandeln. Implikationen einer transformativen Wissenschaft

Negotiating the Inner Logic of Science. Implications of Transformative Science
Carsten von Wissel

Vom Nutzen der Wissenschaft für die Gesellschaft. Eine Kritik zum Anspruch der transformativen Wissenschaft

How Science Benefits Society. A Critical Review of Transformative Science and Its Aspirations
Wolfgang Rohe

Die Rolle der Zivilgesellschaft in der Klimapolitik

The Role of Civil Society in Climate Policy
Barbara Unmüßig

Zwischen Anpassungs- und Veränderungsdruck. Klimafolgenanpassung und nachhaltige Transformation

Adapt or Change? Climate Impact Adaption and Sustainable Transformation
Rainer Lucas, Uta von Winterfeld

Policies of climate change adaption and sustainable development are seldom related to each other. Political action is dominated by short-term measures to limit damages. Issues of provision and fairness are rarely addressed. The design of resilient development pathways poses a great challenge to current problem solving. For the implementation of sustainable and resilient climate change adaptation policies, a mix of institutionally based rules and participatory real world laboratories is necessary.

Tiefe Geothermie - von hohen Erwartungen zur Risikotechnologie

Deep Geothermal Energy - From High Expectations to Risk Technology
Conrad Kunze, Mareen Hertel
reading sample >

Deep geothermal energy was considered an important element of the energy transition. However, where the erection of a deep geothermal energy plant is planned, there is a great deal of popular resistance because it is suspected that test drillings could cause earthquakes. Social acceptance of such plants might be increased, if plant manufacturers would assume responsibility for potential damages and compensate for any damages that might occur.

Design it! Solving Sustainability Problems by Applying Design Thinking

Matthias Fischer

Environmental and sustainability problems create an ongoing need to further develop the toolbox of sustainability science. The method "design thinking", originally applied in design engineering and business, serves as a tool to find the simplest and most likely explanation for a problem. It consists of a specific logical inference: starting from an observation, a theory which accounts for the observation is developed in a collaborative process. This abductive reasoning requires designer to clear their minds of traditional solutions and to create a specific "working principle" that leads to new and creative problem solving.

Well-being and Prosperity beyond Growth: Discursive Struggles in the German Enquete Commission on Growth, Prosperity and Quality of Life
(open access)
Ina Soetebeer

To guarantee well-being and prosperity in a world with finite resources has been one of the major challenges in recent decades. Political controversies related to this challenge have, however, not yet been settled. Under the heading of "beyond growth", the debate is currently regaining momentum. The paper analyses the debate through an in-depth case study of the German Enquete Commission on Growth, Prosperity and Quality of Life (2011 to 2013). Four "contestable truths" and transition pathways could be identified: the market and technology-friendly discourse of Global Pioneering, the lead-country oriented discourse of Green Germany, the sufficiency-based discourse of Good Life, and the critical discourse of Global Environmental and Social Justice. These discourses are likely to have different effects on the environment if they were to become dominant and if they were to become manifest in policies.

Developing, Implementing and Communicating Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research: AlpFutur as an Example
(open access)
Irmi Seidl, Rosa Böni, Stefan Lauber, Felix Herzog

The recently completed research programme AlpFUTUR studied Swiss summer grazing and Alpine farming in its vast complexity in order to provide information and means to take informed decisions given internal and external developments and pressures. Though the first issues and questions were raised by researchers, these were soon complemented by involving practice and administrative bodies into the research process. This design report informs how the programme (22 projects, 80 researchers and implementation experts, and 56 sponsors) was set up and managed, how practice was involved, and how the research process was guided towards a synthesis and a broad array of products that the various stakeholder groups were able to implement. The paper shows that a successful inter- and transdisciplinary research programme needs a stringent management that ideally reflects some of the complexity of the topic, researchers who are keen on such research, good networks with practice - ideally already existing for some time -, and key players who get involved into the research.

Sozial-ökologische Forschung
Nachhaltiges Wirtschaften: Schlüsselakteure für nachhaltige Transformationen > (open access)
Sustainable Economy - Key Actors for Sustainable Transformations
Ralph Wilhelm

Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten in Österreich
Nachhaltige Mobilität an Österreichs Universitäten >
Sustainable Mobility at Austrian Universities
Günter Getzinger, Thomas Lindenthal

Gesundheit und Umwelt. Humanökologische Perspektiven und Positionen für Wissenschaft und Politik >
Health and Environment. Human-ecological Perspectives and Positions for Science and Politics
Felix Tretter

Enhancing Argumentative Skills in Environmental Science Education >
Christoph Baumberger, Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn, Deborah Mühlebach

Nachhaltiges Wissen für die Post-2015-Agenda. Reflexionen zur nachhaltigen Bodenpolitik >
Transformative Knowledge for the Post-2015 Agenda. Reflections on Sustainable Soil Policies
Jes Weigelt

Die Ökonomie des Konsumverzichts: Weniger kann mehr sein >
The Economics of Sustainable Consumption: Less Can Be More
Klaus Rennings, Susann Adloff, Daniel Römer, Florian G. Kaiser 

Nachhaltige Nutzung natürlicher Ressourcen. Der Beitrag der Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften >
Sustainable Use of Natural Resources. The Contribution of the Social Sciences and Humanities
Flurina Schneider





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