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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Knowing and Making the Climate Citizen: On the Co-Production of Integrated Assessment Modelling and Social Order

Krystin is a doctoral student at the Department of European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her main research interests are the political and epistemological underpinnings of ways of knowing, the correlates of knowledge and power, and representational practices around climate change, especially participatory environmental science methods and practices.

Photo: Krystin Unverzagt
This research project explores interlinkages between scientific practice and socio-political order by studying Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) as a social process.

It builds on the assumption that the mutually reflexive relationship between scientific and broader societal processes demands for research on environmental modelling that not only makes a case for, but critically examines participatory methods.

Due to feedback loops involving knowledge categories and social institutions, participatory research methods are inherently political, and need to be designed in relation to varying social contexts in order to interact favourably with environmental politics. If transformation towards sustainable futures is a societal goal, knowledge producers have to ask themselves whether ways in which research is done and presented encourage people to act.

This ethnographic study on Integrated Assessment Modelling focuses on participatory methods in order to critically reflect on their appropriateness across varying socio-political contexts, and to ultimately enhance the usefulness of models as facilitators for sustainable development.

Main research questions include:

  • How are IAM methods intertwined with processes of power?
  • Can scientific methods be linked to prevalent theories of social choice and corresponding political concepts?
  • Are practitioners aware of an interconnection between method design and implicit normative assumptions?
  • How could methods be adapted to varying circumstances in order to interact favourably with environmental politics?
  • Is it possible to devise a best practice for stakeholder engagement methods in PIAM?

The project will employ a mixed qualitative approach combining laboratory studies, ethnographic interviews, focus groups, and semi-structured interviews.


Krystin graduated in Science and Technology Studies from University College London (MSc) and in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Bonn (BA). She pursues a PhD at the Department of European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Prior to this, she has worked in international politics and development cooperation, and as research assistant at the Center for Global Studies in Bonn.


photo: Janine Hauer
Photo: Krystin Unverzagt


Krystin Unverzagt, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program