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Studenten in einer Diskussion im Freien

Transformation pathways for sustainable universities

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With the Sustainability in Science Initiative (SISI), the BMBF is promoting the transformation of the science system. Starting in 2022, projects will be considered that develop and test concrete transformation paths for sustainable universities. The DLR Projektträger (DLR-PT) is on board as a contractor for the implementation of this initiative.

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14th July 2021 — The science as a whole also plays a major role in the transformation of society towards more sustainability. For eight years, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been focusing on this change with its Sustainability in Science Initiative (SISI). With the current funding announcement for Transformation Pathways for Sustainable Universities, the Ministry intends to continue the SISI initiative by funding new thematic research collaborations.

Focus on universities

One key aspect of the current funding announcement is to effectively anchor sustainability in the German higher education landscape. In doing so, the BMBF is pursuing an overall institutional approach which is also reflected in the new UNESCO programme ESD 2030 (Education for Sustainable Development). From 2022 on, the aim will be to fund research and development projects that develop and test concrete transformation paths for sustainable universities. DLR-PT’s Environment and Sustainability Division advised the BMBF intensively on the development of the funding announcement’s content.

The funding measure addresses scientific contributions to central challenges and approaches to solutions for an even stronger anchoring of sustainability at universities. Possible research topics include climate neutrality, digitalisation and sustainability, cultural change for sustainable universities, sustainability assessments of universities and education for sustainable development.

In addition to advising on content, DLR-PT supports the BMBF's endeavour to expand and intensify exchange between the various actors for a sustainable science system with the further development of the SISI initiative. Scientists, administrative staff, students and representatives of local authorities and companies are to discuss joint approaches for an even more sustainable research and science landscape.

Intensive integration of science and practice

The new funding programme was discussed and developed together with stakeholders from science and practice. DLR-PT accompanied and organised the process. The PT Department of Social-Ecological Research contributed specialist know-how on participatory processes and transdisciplinary research. For the further development of SISI, DLR-PT organised an expert discussion in December 2020, the content of which was based on the results of a previous expert discussion in June 2020. Based on the content synthesis of the discussion results, DLR-PT, on behalf of the BMBF, designed the sequence and content of a major online event. At this 5th SISI symposium in March 2021, a large group of participants were given the opportunity to deepen the focus of the funding measure and to discuss suitable funding formats.

The publication of the new funding announcement in July 2021 is another milestone on the path to more sustainability in the German research landscape. DLR-PT will continue to advise its client and accompany and support the research consortia in their activities.

Main and Other Contacts

Scientific contact persons at DLR-PT