4 July 2018
The Futures of SustainabilityNew DFG Center for Advanced Studies at Universität Hamburg
Photo: Anna Jiménez Calaf
In the past 20 years, sustainability has become a key principle in social change, according to the Center’s spokesperson Prof. Neckel. However, the term “sustainability” involves very different goals and ideas about the future. The Center will look closely at three different paths that sustainability has taken so far: modernization, transformation, and control. They reveal the visions of the future that are currently subject to debate: Viewing sustainability as modernization means using sustainability as a means of renewing a capitalist economy and adapting it to different conditions, says Prof. Neckel. Critics fear that forced economic growth hinders sustainable development and call for a fundamental social transformation. A contrasting approach is to address sustainability with comprehensive policies of control.
The president of Univesität Hamburg, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dieter Lenzen, congratulated the researchers. “Our colleagues’ success is also attributable to our appointment policies: We appointed an entire cluster of professors working on social issues related to sustainability at the same time. Our success is the result of this cluster. Congratulations!”
With its questions about sustainability, the Center is exploring terra incognita. Sustainability research has grown in many different directions, “but the problems that sustainability itself might cause have received little attention from researchers so far,” explains Prof. Adloff. There has also been little research on what new types of conflicts, inequalities, and hierarchies might arise when the social criteria for sustainability find their way into jobs, institutions, and cultural values.
To avoid a Eurocentric point of view, the Center will also look at sustainability discourse in Latin America, East Asia, and Australia. In the upcoming years, 40 international researchers will come to Hamburg as fellows.
DFG Centers for Advanced Studies are instruments designed specially to fund work in the humanities and social sciences. They enable researchers to work on pressing and very broad topics. They also place special value on cooperation between renowned researchers.