Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies

Sustainability and Transformation Research Area

Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Analyses of Socio-technical Change.

In this research area, we deal with socio-technical transformation processes such as the energy, nutrition or mobility transition. This includes both empirical and conceptual work with a focus on sustainability issues. Key questions are:

  • How can socio-technical transformation processes be adequately described and analysed? Which mechanisms, drivers and barriers play a crucial role?
  • How can such transformation processes be influenced and shaped in terms of sustainable development?

Our research projects focus on the analysis of changes in behavioural and attitudinal patterns (micro level), organisational fields (meso level), as well as cultural and socio-economic structures (macro level).

Most projects in this research area aim at interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge production and application. An essential feature of this research area is the collaboration with other scientific disciplines as well as actors from policy-making, economy and civil society.

Current Projects

The project focuses on a country-by-country, representative population survey of attitudes to climate change and the energy transition in Britain, Germany, France and Norway. An analysis of the socio-political contexts and an international stakeholder panel form the basis of the theoretically sound survey tool. The “Topline Findings” report in the EPCC study offers an insight into the main findings.

To the Project

The real-world laboratory Future City_Lab seeks to explore potentials for change of urban mobility cultures. Thereby, a key focus is placed on the close cooperation with citizens and civil society actors.

To the Project

After the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima in 2011, the Helmholtz Alliance ENERGY-TRANS was founded to supplement technically oriented energy research with a socio-scientific interdisciplinary perspective. The design for researching the transformation of the energy system was aimed at examining the interplay between technical potential, innovation processes, user behaviour, political and economic framework conditions, conflicts and control processes. ZIRIUS participated in all five issues.

To the Project

The junior research group DynaMo seeks to develop interdisciplinary knowledge about the interplay of social, technical and political factors in the transformation of urban mobility systems. By involving practitioners and stakeholders in a transdisciplinary cooperation process, (policy) recommendations for the implementation of sustainable mobility concepts are developed.

To the Project

Early-stage participation of citizens for sustainable development in Baden-Württemberg

The Living Lab: City District 4.0 is a testing field for tools for visualisation and digital participation formats in the planning processes of Stuttgart and Herrenberg.

To the Project

As part of the collaborative project and in close cooperation with the citizens of the town of Schorndorf, a non-stop, needs-based, innovative operating concept for public transport and a corresponding vehicle design will be developed.

To the Project

The nascent project explores the potential for development of a sustainable transformation of the food sector. It examines how these new business forms can be characterised and how their role can be estimated in the food sector.

Can such small, niche initiatives become the drivers of sustainable change in the food system and launch socially-oriented entrepreneurship, social innovation and the spread of new sustainability standards?

To the Project

Members Research Area Sustainability and Transformation


This picture showsMarco Sonnberger

Marco Sonnberger

Spokesperson for the Research Area Sustainability and Transition Research


Sabine Mücke


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