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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.


18 October 2019

Prof. Tobia Lakes (Geography Department)


28 June 2019

Prof. 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. 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. 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).