Direkt zum InhaltDirekt zur SucheDirekt zur Navigation
▼ Zielgruppen ▼

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Internal Lecture Series: My work in the context of IRI THESys

The lecture series "My work in the context of IRI THESys" takes place every semester and presents two or more members introducing their own work to their colleagues.


The members of IRI THESys represent the plurality of disciplines needed in order to tackle the challenge of transforming human-environment systems towards more sustainability, and their complementary perspectives and methods allow for truly trans- and interdisciplinary research.

With our lecture series "My work in the context of IRI THESys" we give our members an internal stage to present their research interests and questions, methodological tools and data, conceptual framework and theories to their colleagues. Starting in winter 2018, two members or more per semester are asked to introduce their work.


06 November 2020

Prof. Dr. Jonas Ø. Nielsen (HU Berlin/ IRI THESys)

Integrated geography and human environment research

Globalisation, complexity, and environmental problems challenge traditional boundaries between disciplines, methods, activism and science, humans and nature. In this talk I will highlight the relevance of integrative geography in a world defined by connectivity and problems that scientists need to help solve. 

Listen to full lecture:



05 June 2020

Dr. Ina Säumel (HU Berlin/ IRI THESys)

Co-creation of multifunctional landscapes? Lessons learnt from edible cities and beyond

This lecture presented the main areas of interest, projects and experiences of the research group Multifunctional Landscapes including the goal to support the development of healthy, biodiversity-friendly and sustainable productive (urban and rural) landscapes. This includes positioning in the debates on multifunctionality of landscapes, holistic visions of landscape sciences, popular topics such as ecosystem services and so-called nature-based solutions. Based on extensive fieldwork and large datasets, the lecture tries to derive some lessons learnt using almost no complicated diagrams. We scientists are not the "experts" who explain to others "non-experts" how the world looks like and how to change the world. On the contrary, we learn from other knowledge regimes and are – hopefully - part of an inclusive community of knowledge, practice and cosmologies. People drive transitions.

Listen to full lecture:



24 April 2020

Prof. Dr. Jörg Niewöhner (HU Berlin: Institute of European Ethnology/ IRI THESys)

Evidence-based democratic deliberation'. Global environmental change research and the challenge of socioecological cohesion.

The latest expertise by the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU 2019) develops the idea of 'evidence-based democratic deliberation' in order to square the reality of planetary boundaries with democratic due process in late liberal societies. This assumes a specific relationship between science and society, namely that scientific knowledge making precedes democratic deliberation in broader society. I want to argue in this talk that focusing exclusively on this approach runs the risk of proliferating an emerging polarisation of societies into those who recognise science as a necessary contribution to an enlightened debate about planetary environmental change and societies' options, and those who regard science as part of an elite establishment that could not care less about 'ordinary people'. To counteract this dangerous 'us/them' framing, I suggest that global environmental change (GEC) research needs to conceive of its own knowledge as 'situated', acknowledge epistemological pluralism and ontological multiplicity, and find ways of generating a broader sense of shared ownership of GEC knowledge. Scientific practice needs to contribute to socialecological cohesion if it wants to contribute to a great transformation.

Listen to full lecture:



17 January 2020

Prof. Dr. Claas Nendel (ZALF)

Predicting the future of agriculture by understanding human-environment interaction

Agriculture is one of the oldest coupled human-environment systems and as the primary source of human nutrition, it is still of major concern in our rapidly changing world. Claas Nendel uses mechanistic simulation models to explore how agriculture in different regions of the world changes in response to changing environmental, social and economic drivers. G x E x M is the magic formula for strengthening agriculture in its manifold responsibilities for a sustainable living. In this talk, Claas will highlight a few examples that demonstrate the research concept, and outline the next milestones along this research agenda that embraces more than 1000 scientists around the world.


18 October 2019

Prof. Dr. Tobia Lakes (Geography Department)

Exploring spatio-temporal dynamics of agricultural land use intensity in Brandenburg


28 June 2019

Prof. Dr. Gretchen Bakke (IRI THESys)

Pivoting toward Energy Transition 2.0

In places with highly developed electrical infrastructure (grids) the integration of renewable means of making electricity has been surprisingly fraught. Even supporters of renewable power struggle as variably made electricity and distributed generation confound the logics of contemporary grids. Infrastructure in this transition is materially incalcitrant, while its resistance to change is often read as political or ideological.

In this talk, Gretchen Bakke details the infrastructural, cultural and business structures and cultures that make a thoroughgoing renewables revolution difficult to accomplish. She points to likely scenarios for strong, resilient, and smart electrified futures and then welcomes the elephant into the room, as energy transition 2.0 – the total elimination of fossil fuels from energy systems – overwhelms and complicates the many successes of transition 1.0 (all those renewables) that has already come so far.

This presentation draws on Gretchen's 2016 book The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between America and Our Energy Future – an entertaining yet careful study of the historical, infrastructural, business, and legislative contexts of the energy transition in the US. She moves beyond this, however, to also consider the implications of a phase-out of fossil fuels for contemporary electricity systems.


12 April 2019

Prof. Dr. Hermann Lotze-Campen (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

Modelling land use change in the context of climate change and sustainable development

Land use change is a core element of sustainable human development and provides multiple linkages between many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This talk will show how different trade-offs and synergies between various SDGs can be assessed with complex computer models. Furthermore, it will provide the basis for an open discussion about coherent policy instruments for managing sustainable land use in the future.


18 January 2019

Dr. Stefan Schäfer (Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam)

Knowledge and Governance in the Climate Regime 

The project Stefan Schäfer will be presenting examines how dominant attempts to represent and govern the complex phenomenon of a changing climate are rooted in, and themselves in turn shape, ideas about “singular” things: The single planet Earth, the single CO2 molecule, and the single global market. In his talk, he traces how these ideas produce specific sameness and difference judgments and how the primacy of these judgments is problematic and contested in global governance—from the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 via its extension in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the “failure” at Copenhagen in 2009, and the most recent adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Schäfer will pay particular attention to the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in this history. The talk concludes with a reflection on the promises of the Paris Agreement, tendencies to decentralize authority in contemporary politics, and the advancing emergence of geoengineering onto mainstream scientific and political agendas.


19 October 2018 

Prof. Dr. Torsten Meireis (Berlin Institute for Public Theology)

Avatar. Ethics and the Culture of Sustainability.  

Using the popular movie 'Avatar' as an example the talk tries to elaborate on three theses: 'Sustainability' is a cultural entity, a notion consisting of concepts, symbols and images (1). Culture is never just an instrument or an element but also a pool or horizon of concepts and images as well as an agonal arena - this is also true in the context of sustainable development (2). Cultural and, among it, religious articulation can't replace political and technical efforts to achieve sustainable development, but it has to go along with those (3).