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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

More Public Activities

In addition to the regular THESys Lecture Series, the IRI THESys organizes, together with its partners, other public activities such as talks, panel discussions or book releases at irregular intervals. The aim of these activities is to establish a dialogue between science and society.

Summer semester 2016

Winter semester 2015/16

Summer semester 2015

Most of our lectures are available on video!


2. German Future Earth Summit

Book release of the German translation of 'DEGROWTH: A Vocabulary for a new era'


Friday, 10 June 2016, 5.30 pm, Agora Rollberg
Am Sudhaus 2, 12053 Berlin (former kindl brewerey)

When the language in use is inadequate to articulate what begs to be articulated, then it is time for a new vocabulary. A movement of activists and intellectuals, first starting in France and then spreading to the rest of the world, has called for the decolonization of public debate from the idiom of economism and the abolishment of economic growth as a social objective. ‘Degrowth’ has come to signify for them the desired direction of societies that will use fewer natural resources and will organize themselves to live radically differently. ‘Simplicity’, ‘conviviality’, ‘autonomy’, ‘care’ or ‘commons’ are some of the words that express what a degrowth society might look like.

‘Degrowth. Handbuch für eine neue Ära’ (Oekom) is the German translation of ‘Degrowth: A vocabulary for a new era’ (Routledge), the first English language book that comprehensively covers the burgeoning literature on degrowth. It presents and explains the different lines of thought, imaginaries and proposed courses of action that together complete the degrowth puzzle. The book brings together the top scholars writing in the field with young researchers who cultivate the research frontier and activists who practise degrowth on the ground. It is an indispensable source of information and inspiration for all those who not only believe that another world is possible, but who work and struggle to construct it right now.

Join us for the presentation of the book in Berlin! One of the editors of the book and three contributors will provide a glimpse of its contents and philosophy, followed by a lively debate.

The event is a special event at the OSCEdays Berlin 2016 in cooperation between IRI THESys, the oekom-Verlag, the Agora Collective, and the Circular Lab Berlin CRCLR.

Have a look at the poster

2. German Future Earth Summit

Pathways to Sustainability: Dealing with Uncertainty

Lecture by Prof. Andrew Stirling as Special Event at the 2. German Future Earth Summit

Wednesday, 27 January 2016, 4-7 pm, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Senatssaal

Governance must acknowledge that multiple futures are possible and account for surprises when navigating pathways to sustainability. This is because projections of future developments in coupled human-environment systems are always partial and indeterminate because we do not fully understand the complex processes of change in these systems and empirical data is scarce. Uncertainty therefore imposes great challenges for research and decision-making on sustainability.

What are the implications for the research community working to identify pathways to a sustainable future? How can researchers provide effective and meaningful decision-support without unduly simplifying problems or prematurely limiting the range of considered possible futures?

This event will address these questions by bringing together speakers and an audience from a broad spectrum of disciplines and intellectual traditions. Professor Andrew Stirling from University of Sussex will introduce his uncertainty matrix as a starting point for discussion in which he will be joined by four leading German sustainability researchers: Dr. Silke Beck (Helmholtz Research Centre for Environmental Research UFZ), Dr. Sabine Fuss (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change MCC), Dr. Armin Haas (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies IASS), and Dr. Stefan Böschen (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT)

This event is part of the official program of the 2. German Future Earth Summit.



David Barkin

Parity in Paris: a review of necessary conditions for a fair and equitable Universal Climate Agreement, and the chances of achieving one

Inaugural Lecture by Prof. Dr. David Barkin

Wednesday, 25 November 2015, 6.30-8.30 pm, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Senatssaal

Prof. Barkin's lecture will address the socio-economic and ecological economic challenges and opportunities arising this December in Paris, France, with the convening of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 21).  Approaching the topic based on reference to his studies of environmental conflicts and alternative economies, he will discuss how and why a coherent process of environmental governance is becoming increasingly difficult and environmental injustice is getting worse across both Latin America and the world.

Prof. Dr. David Barkin (Ph.D. Yale, 1966) is Distinguished Professor at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. He was a founding member of the Ecodevelopment Center in 1974 and was a recipient of the National Prize in Political Economy in 1979. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and was appointed as an Emeritus Member of the National Research Council. His numerous books on human-environment related problems focus on Mexican economic development, food systems analysis and sustainable development; they include: Distorted Development: Mexico in the World Economy; Mexican Innovations in Water Management; and Urban Water Management in Mexico. Another of his books, Wealth, Poverty and Sustainable Development, enjoys wide circulation and can be downloaded free. His present research focuses on the construction of post-capitalist societies.

He is the 2015 Winner of the Georg Forster Research Prize for climate relevant research. The Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation awards the Prize on an annual basis to four internationally recognised scientists from developing countries in recognition of their outstanding life’s work as scholars and their personal role as leaders in research. The prize is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This lecture is organized by the “Berlin Workshop in Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems” (WINS) in cooperation with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and supported by IRI THESys.

Admission is free (capacity is limited)



Ray Hilborn

Sustaining global capture fisheries:
Why reading Science and Nature might lead you believe it isn’t happening

Lecture by Prof. Ray Hilborn

Friday, 25 September 2015, 1 pm, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Lecture Hall, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin-Friedrichshagen

The pages of Science and Nature are filled with gloom and doom stories about the demise of fisheries and have promoted oft repeated views that 90% of the large fish of the ocean were depleted by 1980 and that if current trends continue all fish stocks will be collapsed by 2048. After the publication in 2006 of the paper estimating the 2048 date for the final demise of fisheries, the lead author of that study, Boris Worm, and I formed a group to understand our difference in perspective about the sustainability of capture fisheries. In 2009 we found that in countries that conduct scientific stock assessments stocks were on average not in decline, but stable. Since then the status of fisheries in many countries has continued to improve with fishing mortality rates declining and stocks often rebuilding. However, much of the world does not have effective fisheries management, and in those places stocks appear to be heavily fished and in decline. In this talk I will discuss some of the data used to identify the status of fish stocks and fisheries, and outline our current understanding of what it takes to sustainably manage fisheries.

Ray Hilborn is a Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington specializing in natural resource management, fisheries and conservation. Throughout his long career, he has been an key scholar in developing fisheries assessment methods that are now widely applied in the management of global fish stocks. For his accomplishments, he has received the Volvo Environmental Prize, the American Fisheries Societies Award of Excellence, The Ecological Society of America’s Sustainability Science Award and the American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists Outstanding Achievement Award. Hilborn is a Fellow of the American Fisheries Society, the Washington State Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This lecture is organized in cooperation with IRI THESys and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB).


Simon Levin

Dealing with public goods and common pool resources

Lecture by Prof. Simon Levin

Friday, 20 March 2015, 3 pm, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Lecture Hall, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin-Friedrichshagen

Dealing with public goods and common pool resources is a problem that faces organisms from microbes to human societies, and poses great challenges with reference to global environmental problems like climate change. Much can be learned from how evolution has dealt with such problems, and human societies rely on insurance arrangements, social norms, regulations and laws to avoid tragedies of the commons. As the scale of the ensemble increases, however, cooperation becomes more difficult to achieve. Global environmental management, therefore, will need to develop new approaches, possibly building on modularity  and Vincent and Elinor Ostrom’s notions of polycentricity.  This lecture will explore various dimensions of this problem.

Simon Levin is Professor of Biology at Princeton University's Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. His research interests are focused on how macroscopic patterns and processes are maintained at the level of ecosystems and the biosphere, in terms of ecological, behavioral, and evolutionary mechanisms that operate primarily at the level of the organisms. In recent years, he has turned his attention to the parallels between ecological systems and financial and economic systems, particularly with regard to what makes them vulnerable to collapse, and to the evolution and development of structure and organization.

This lecture is funded by the Princeton-Humboldt-Universität Centre for Reality Mining of Animal-Human Systems and organized by the Division of Integrative Fisheries Management at the Faculty of Life Sciences in cooperation with IRI THESys and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB).