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Target Groups

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Research Groups

To evolve excellent research on specific topics, see our Research Groups.

Transformations of land-water systems


Tensions between supply of and multiple demands for land and water will increasingly join up urban and rural environments and communities, developing and developed economies, and bring about profound challenges of human and national security, democracy and justice. How best then to achieve an integrated understanding of these complex interrelations? How best to deal with uncertainties and the need to adapt when managing these systems? How best to enable stakeholder deliberations around local solutions to global problems? What is risk and what is sustainability in the face of epistemic or lack-of-knowledge uncertainty?

Research group leader

Prof. Dr. Tobias Krüger
Phone: +49 (030) 2093-66342

Changing urban-rural linkages 


The intertwinement of environmental, societal and cultural dynamics as well as the global and local and rural and urban will constitute the main theoretical focus of the Research Group (RG). Empirically the RG will concentrate on changing urban-rural linkages across the world. Peri-urban settlements, urban gardening, and sustainable cities constitute topics which the group will engage with. A central hypothesis of the RG is that such phenomena cannot be understood as either urban or rural, social or environmental, or global or local, but rather as sites where the boundaries between such categories dissolve.

Research group leader

Prof. Dr. Jonas Østergaard Nielsen
Phone: +49 (030) 2093-66341

Innovative sustainable land management


Developing relevant knowledge for managing complex innovation processes requires a transdisciplinary approach to bridge the gap between science and practice. By reference to two local examples the research group Management of integrative innovation processes investigates new institutional and regional coordination forms for sustainable land management in order to develop sustainable solutions for global challenges.

Research group leader

Dr. Bettina König
Phone: +49 (030) 2093-46333


Urban Infrastructures and human-environment relations


Urban infrastructures – understood as sociotechnical configurations – form multiple interfaces in human-environment systems. By virtue of the work they perform in mediating between resource providers and consumers, between the city and nature or between urban settlements and their increasingly global hinterlands, they are critical to social-ecological relations in general and sustainability transitions in particular. This research group investigates past and current transitions in energy and water infrastructures, focussing on the Berlin region, to reveal how they reflect and reproduce the multiple geographies, power relations and socio-materialities of a city. 

Research group leader

Prof. Dr. Timothy Moss
Phone: +49 (030) 2093-66436

EmBARK - Climate Related Loss and Damage

Photo: Helmink/ Hult (Unsplash)


The EmBARK – project Temporal Evolution of Barriers to Adaptation and their Relevance for Climate Related Loss and Damage investigates time scales and possible trajectories of socio-economic transformation processes and analyses their relevance as potential barriers to adaptation to climate change. An improved understanding of the temporal dynamics of such barriers is decisive to develop a more realistic understanding of future climate impacts and for scientifically robust assessments of future climate related Loss and Damage (L&D) and to provide a scientific basis for the development of policy concepts on L&D.

Research group leader

Dr. Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
Phone: +49 (030) 2093-66437

Multifunctional Landscapes



The research group Multifunctional Landscapes focuses on edible city solutions, future landscapes and healthy living and seeks for optimized ways to turn research into real lab condition. Its work is based on a) multifunctionality as a strategy for healthy, biodiversity-friendly and sustainable productive urban and rural landscapes; b) innovation concepts for sustainable land management by using historical land use techniques to create a common identity; c) planning instruments to strengthen health-related ecosystem services in the green residential environments around multi-storey buildings, and d) nature-based solutions for innovating cities and enhance social and climate resilience.


Research group leader

Dr. Ina Säumel
Phone: +49 (030) 2093-66379

Former research groups

Economic and environmental ethics

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From February 2014 to September 2018, the research group Global challenges in economic and environmental ethics was based at IRI THESys. The group, led by Prof. Gabriel Wollner, investigated problems arising from economic and environmental change using the methods of contemporary political philosophy and normative ethics. It has three objectives.

Research group leader

Prof. Dr. Gabriel Wollner