Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society

Dear Subscribers,

GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 3/2017 has just been released. The latest issue features, amongst others, a review of different concepts of the Transformative University in Society and universities' potential to play a major role in the transformation towards a sustainable society, a plea for a practice theory concept for Social Innovation, and – under the heading Growth Imperative vs. Non-Growth Option – a case study investigating mechanisms of growth for small and medium sized enterprises in Austria.

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

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Stickoxid-Probleme: Kollateralschäden der Klimapolitik? >
The Nitrogen Oxide Problem: Climate Policy Collateral Damage?
Rudolf M.Petersen
reading sample >

Frameworks for Transdisciplinary Research: Framework #1 > (free content)
Christian Pohl, Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn

Die Energiewende braucht verlässliche Rahmenbedingungen für den Metallerzbergbau >
The Energy Transition Needs a Reliable Framework for Metal Ore Mining
Friedrich-W. Wellmer, Jens Gutzmer, Jakob Kullik, Berit Erlach

Ein Streifen am Horizont - interdisziplinäre Beiträge zur Endlagersuche > 
A Glimmer of Hope - Interdisciplinary Contributions to the Search for a Final Nuclear Waste Repository
Michael Mehnert

Die Mechanismen transformativen Wandels erfassen. Plädoyer für ein praxistheoretisches Konzept sozialer Innovationen > (open access)
Understanding the Mechanisms of Transformative Change. A Plea for a Practice Theory Concept for Social Innovation
Jürgen Howaldt, Michael Schwarz

The major challenges confronting society today can only be met through social innovations, e.g., changes in consumer habits or new business models. To better understand these transformation processes, we need a theoretical concept that focuses on the dynamics of social practices and the way these practices can be reconfigured as social innovations. This would enable the promotion of a policy fostering societal change towards sustainability.

Soziale Innovation: Verheißung oder Verführung? >
Social Innovation: Promise or Illusion?
Melanie Jaeger-Erben, René John, Jana Rückert-John

Two for One: Integrating the Sustainable Development Agenda with International Climate Policy >
Wolfgang Obergassel, Florian Mersmann, Hanna Wang-Helmreich

2015 was a watershed for international sustainability governance. With the Paris climate agreement and Agenda 2030, the international community adopted new targets and processes which are to guide policy for decades to come. Both emphasise the need for integration. In practice, however, climate change and sustainable development have so far been siloed issues.

Therapeutische Landschaften in der Psychoonkologie. Die gesundheitsfördernde Wirkung von Natur und Landschaft >
Therapeutic Landscapes in Psycho-Oncology. The Health-Enhancing Impact of Nature and the Countryside
Joachim Rathmann, Sebastian Brumann

Nature and natural landscapes can strengthen humans' sense of well-being, alleviate symptoms of disease and speed up convalescence. This positive influence can be operationalized through the concept of "therapeutic landscapes". A recent addition to the discussion is the health-enhancing impact of using natural landscapes in psycho-oncology: Therapeutic stays in nature and the observance of beautiful landscapes offer promising help to cancer patients including the reduction of such side effects as depressive moods, anxiety and signs of fatigue.

Die transformative Universität in der Gesellschaft. Ein Überblick über verschiedene Konzepte > 
The Transformative University in Society. A Review of Different Concepts
Colin Bien, Remmer Sassen, Hermann Held

The discussion about universities' potential to play a major role in the transformation towards a sustainable society is ongoing and often controversial. This is due to different perceptions of the role of the university and its contributions to society. For this reason, a review has been carried out into theoretical approaches that frame the relationship between university and society. After a systematization and short introduction of the different approaches, we look at their common architecture in order to derive key elements that have to be taken into account if a university wants to (re-)define its relationship with society. We describe different forms of a transformative university through the lens of each approach and we highlight conflicts that might arise in comparison with the traditional idea of a university. We conclude by breaking down the results of our analysis into three questions for universities wanting to become a transformative force for a sustainable society.

To Grow or Not to Grow? That Is the Question. Lessons for Social Ecological Transformation from Small-Medium Enterprises >
Heidi Leonhardt, Maria Juschten, Clive L. Spash
reading sample >

While research on alternatives to growth at the level of the economy as a whole is accumulating, few studies have related the criticism of growth to the business level. This paper starts to address this gap by investigating mechanisms of growth for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), presenting a case study that applies Q methodology and interviews with owner-managers of both growing and non-growing SMEs in Austria. General mechanisms stimulating growth are identified (e. g., contributing to innovativeness and motivation of employees) and differentiated from those only of relevance for some SMEs: competition, financial stability, and a desire for market power. The owner-managers of non-growing SMEs hold values and pursue goals that free them from mechanisms of growth or prevent them from being triggered. Moreover, they exhibit a strong identification with their SME, operate in niche markets and strive for financial independence. This illustrates that a growth imperative is neither inevitable nor are growth mechanisms always operative, but depend upon structures and institutions.

Sozial-ökologische Forschung
Perception of Climate Change and the Energy Transition. Results from a European Survey > (open access)
Annika Arnold, Katharine Steentjes

MWK Baden-Württemberg
Energiewende vor Ort - Wissenschaft sucht Praxis. Erfahrungen aus dem Energielabor Tübingen > (open access)
Local Energy Transition - Science Looking for Stakeholders. Experiences from the Real-World Laboratory Energielabor Tübingen
Jeannine Tischler, Geraldine Quénéhervé, Volker Hochschild

Monitoring und Evaluation der Agenda 2030. Reflexionen zum ersten saguf-Gespräch >
Monitoring and Evaluation of the Agenda 2030. Reflections on the First saguf Talk
Andreas Kläy, Christoph Bader, Basil Bornemann, Vicente Carabias, Patrick Wäger

Wissenschaft und Praxis gemeinsam für die Energiewende. Der transdisziplinäre Ansatz von ENavi > (open access)
Science and Practice Jointly for the Energy Transition. The Transdisciplinary Approach of ENavi
Marion Dreyer, Steffi Ober, Piet Sellke

Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten in Österreich
Umweltmanagement an Universitäten. Fortschritte im Verbundprojekt der Allianz Nachhaltige Universitäten in Österreich >
Environmental Management at Universities. Progress in the Cooperation Project of the Alliance of Sustainable Universities in Austria
Ralph Zettl, Thomas Lindenthal, Judith Biedermann

Philosophische Positionen zur Nachhaltigkeitsforschung. Schnittstellen, Unterschiede und offene Fragen >
Philosophical Aspects of Sustainability Science. Intersections, Differences and Further Questions
Felix Tretter, Karl-Heinz Simon

Der transdisziplinäre Ansatz des Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). Konzept und Umsetzung >
The Transdisciplinary Approach of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). Concept and Implementation
Patrizia Nanz, Ortwin Renn, Mark Lawrence


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