Workshop on td research and sustainability within an intercultural orientation & Td Summer School 2018

Leuphana University of Lüneburg is pleased to invite you to the 6th Td Summer School in Lüneburg, Germany in September. As a follow up of the ITD Conference 2017 ( this year’s Td Summer School is focussing on transdisciplinary research at the science | society inteface within an intercultural orientation. It takes place at Leuphana University from September 2-11, 2018 (Td Training Module: Sep 2-7, Special Training Module: Sep 10-11).

As a side event we will run a workshop on transdisciplinary research and sustainability from Sep 11-13. The aim is to develop an agenda for continuous collaborative research between different world regions to further develop epistemological and methodological foundations and practices of transdisciplinary research and sustainability.

For more information see:


Workshop on: Systemic boundaries in sustainability and transdisciplinary knowledge/action systems

Leuphana University, Workshop on: Systemic boundaries in sustainability and transdisciplinary knowledge/action systems
February, 22nd

The CCP team gathered with invited scholars from the Faculty of Sustainability at Leuphana and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam (IASS) for a one-day workshop to discuss systemic boundaries in sustainability and transdisciplinary knowledge/action systems.

We explored different epistemic, normative, and practical approaches to complexity or complex systems in sustainability contexts. Throughout presentations and discussions we covered topics in axiomatic order theory, thermodynamics, dynamic norms in societal systems, historical epistemology, history of climate science, dimensions and boundaries of sustainability sciences, computational history of sustainability, local energy transitions, and transdisciplinary critique. The CCP team will keep working with these issues.

We will apply our findings on the one hand to a computational exploration of the history of sustainability on a global-scientific scale and to sustainability sciences on a local scale in Lüneburg. On the other hand we will use the workshop’s outcomes as an analytical tool to describe current trends in international climate governance and in national and local sustainability policies.

Our goal was to identify some important formal characteristics under conditions of complexity and to understand the dynamics of these features in specific non-formal settings. Our main method can be summarized as a form of historical epistemology. The idea of complex systems’ boundaries worked as our boundary object integrating individual perspectives on elements in formal theory as well as empirical biophysical, societal, and scientific systems.

CCP visit at COP23 in Bonn

Bonn, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
November, 06th – 09th 2017

Esther Meyer and Isabell Schrickel spend some inspiring days at the 23rd Climate Conference of the UNFCCC in Bonn. For them the increasing overlappings between the climate change and sustainability communities was particularly interesting. It was especially exciting to observe how new actor-networks evolve around new understandings of problems and values in the field and how they claim political agency.

CCP Team veröffentlicht ersten gemeinsamen Forschungsbeitrag

Lüneburg, Dezember 2017

Nachhaltigkeit – Immer noch normativ oder funktioniert sie schon?

Die Normativität von Nachhaltigkeit wird oft als Hindernis zu ihrer Umsetzung diskutiert. Schmieg et al. zeigen, dass Normen komplexe Systemfaktoren sind, deren Erfassung eine neue Forschungsperspektive erfordert.

Der erste gemeinsame Forschungsbeitrag von Complexity or Control? Paradigms for Sustainable Development wurde in der Zeitschrift Sustainability Science veröffentlicht. In diesem Beitrag zeigen wir, dass die wissenschaftliche Untersuchung der systemischen Rolle von Normen in den heterogenen Kontexten der Nachhaltigkeit eine grundlegend neue Forschungsperspektive erfordert. Wir analysieren Nachhaltigkeit als ein komplexes System von techno-wissenschaftlichen und ethischen Normen. Im Ergebnis zeigen sich bestimmte, sogenannte ‘dynamische Normen’ als beachtliche Triebkräfte für wissenschaftliche, politische, wirtschaftliche, soziale, kulturelle und individuelle Akteure. Im systematischen Vergleich von drei zentralen Nachhaltigkeitsdokumenten des Jahres 2015 untersuchen wir die Eigenschaft von Normen, wichtige Prozesse der Nachhaltigkeit zu beschleunigen und zu verlangsamen. Die drei 2015er Kerntexte sind das Pariser Klimaabkommen, die Sustainable Developments Goals und die Umweltenzyclica Laudato Si’ von Papst Franziskus. Insbesondere schließen wir, dass die explizite Berücksichtigung von Normen eine neue Perspektive in der Modellierung von Systemdynamiken erfordert. Um ein neues Forschungsfeld als Verschränkung von Ethik und Systemwissenschaft in erster Annäherung abzustechen, entwickeln wir ein einfaches konzeptuelles Modell von Systemdynamiken der Nachhaltigkeit unter Beachtung von Normativität. Daran schliesst sich ein Plädoyer für einen kritischeren Umgang mit Normen in überkommenen Modellen aus dem Bereich der Nachhaltigkeit an, die in aller Regel unkritisch auf techno-wissenschaftliche Beschleunigung von Prozessen nachhaltiger Entwicklung zielen. Für Nachhaltigkeit fundamentale kulturelle und soziale Phänomene entgleiten dadurch bisher dem wissenschaftlichen Verständnis.

Schmieg, G., Meyer, E., Schrickel, I., Herberg, J., Caniglia, G., Vilsmaier, U., Laubichler, M., Hörl, E., Lang, D. J., 2017. Modeling normativity in sustainability: a comparison of the sustainable development goals, the Paris agreement, and the papal encyclical. Sustainability Science, pp 1-12. Artikel einsehbar über Springer.

ITD-Conference 2017: Philosophical Perspectives on the ‘Problems’ of Transdisciplinarity

Lüneburg, ITD Conference 2017
September, 11th – 15th 2017

Leuphana University Lüneburg and the Network for Transdisciplinary Research of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences co-organized the International Transdisciplinary Conference 2017 – Intercultural Endeavours, that took place at the new Zentralgebäude at Leuphana University Lüneburg between September 11th and 15th.

Gregor Schmieg and Esther Meyer contributed with their talks to the session on Philosophical Perspectives on the ‘Problems’ of Transdisciplinarity.

As Klein (2014) has noted, the “discourse of problem solving” is a time-honored way of characterizing transdisciplinary research and practice; however, the notion of problem can all too easily be taken for granted. This session focused on investigating what it means to talk about problems within transdisciplinarity. Using philosophical tools of diagnoses, analysis, and critique, the contributors in this session evaluated the notions of problem and problematic, offering insights that emphasize epistemology and reflexivity and recommendations that respect the complexity of transdisciplinarity.

Esther gave a talk on discursive contextualizations of problems in transdisciplinary sustainability science aiming to find explanations for reproducing patterns of problem understandings in the research field. With her discourse analytical PhD project she wants to open up for a theoretical discussion and substantive elaboration on how problems can be conceptualized in td sustainability research.

Gregor contextualized the td research field and it’s focus on problems within the broader historical context of modernity. By linking td’s problem orientation to the general role normativity plays in scientific approaches – pointed out by Nietzsche – Gregor sketched out a critical perspective on td research as a more than merely scientific endeavor.

Another contributor was Jan C. Schmidt, associated to Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Unit of Social, Culture and Technology Studies, and member of the strategic board of ITd Conference 2017 representing, among others, the td net.

The session, including a discussion, in the very well-filled seminar room, was moderated by Michael O’Rourke, Michigan State University, Department of Philosophy, Director of the Toolbox Project, that investigates philosophical approaches to facilitating interdisciplinary research (

The CCP perspectives got positive and helpful feedback from within the community of transdisciplinary sustainability science.

CCP as co-organizer of ITD-Conference 2017

Lüneburg, ITD Conference 2017
September, 11th – 15th 2017

Leuphana University Lüneburg and the Network for Transdisciplinary Research of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences co-organized the International Transdisciplinary Conference 2017 – Intercultural Endeavours, that took place at the new Zentralgebäude at Leuphana University Lüneburg between September 11th and 15th.

The CCP team cooperated in the following fundamental roles and formats:


  • Strategic Conference Board: Ulli Vilsmaier (core team), Daniel Lang
  • Organization Team: Ina Dubberke
  • Extended Organization Team: Jeremias Herberg, Guido Caniglia, Esther Meyer

Session Moderation and Organization:

  • To control or not to control? Social and epistemic dilemmas of control
    Jeremias Herberg (Organization & Moderation)
  • Brokering beyond education
    Jeremias Herberg (Moderation)
  • Social dependencies in transformative transdisciplinary research
    Esther Meyer (Moderation)
  • Climate Change and transdisciplinarity
    Isabell Schrickel (Moderation)
  • Modes and impact of transdisciplinary research – concepts, methods, processes and case-based evidence
    Matthias Bergmann, Alexandra Lux, Lena Theiler, Thomas Jahn, ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Frankfurt a.M., Germany; Martina Schäfer, Emilia Nagy, Center for Technology and Society, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany; Stephanie Jahn and Jens Newig, Research Group Governance and Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany, Judith Kahle and Daniel J. Lang, Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany (organization)
  • Transformational learning in transdisciplinary processes
    Daniel Lang (Moderation)


  • Transdisciplinary research topographies
    Ulli Vilsmaier
  • Transdisciplinarity sustainability studies between deliberation and technocracy – mapping of a bipolar field
    Jeremias Herberg
  • Controlling for evidence. What role can experiments play in transformational sustainability science?
    Guido Caniglia
  • A philosophical perspective on reflexive problem solving and transdisciplinarity
    Gregor Schmieg
  • Problems of transdisciplinary Sustainability Sciences. An approach to diagnoses Esther Meyer
  • Learning from diversity – integrative principles for transdisciplinary research
    Philip Bernert, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Germany, Marie Josefine Hintz, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, University College London, The Bartlett School of Architecture, United Kingdom, Judith Kahle, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Germany, Jana Koltzau, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, Dagmar Moelleken, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany, Julius Rathgens, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany, David Abson, Project Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, Daniel J. Lang, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Germany, Henrik von Wehrden
  • Place-based transdisciplinary research for sustainability transformation: the case of Transylvania, Romania
    Andra Horcea-Milcu, David Lam, Daniel Lang
  • Does transdisciplinarity improve academic and societal research outcomes? Empirical results from a large-N comparative study
    Stephanie V. Jahn, Judith Kahle, Jens Newig (Lüneburg, DE), Matthias Bergmann (Frankfurt a.M., Berlin), Daniel J. Lang, (Lüneburg, DE)

Abstracts, see

Plenary Discussion:

  • Opening Panel: Polylog on transdisciplinary research and education as intercultural endeavours
    Ulli Vilsmaier (Coordination & Moderation)
  • Panel on research integration and implementation – commonalities and differences between diverse communities:
    Ulli Vilsmaier (Discussant)
  • Panel on teaching and learning in transdisciplinary environments. Preparing the next generation for navigating between different environments:
    Daniel Lang, Esther Meyer (Panelists)

Video documentation of the plenary sessions, see


Special Meetings:

  • Modes of sustainability related research in comparison (MONA) – final symposium: Daniel J. Lang, Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Jens Newig, Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Communication, Research Group Governance and Sustainability, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Judith Kahle, Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Stephanie V. Jahn, Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research & Research Group Governance and Sustainability, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Matthias Bergmann, ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Frankfurt a.M., Germany
  • Leuphana-KLASICA Workshop of the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change Alliance – Fostering collective behaviour change toward sustainable futures: models, narratives and experiments
    Ilan Chabay, Head of International Fellowships, Incubator, and the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change International Research Alliance at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Germany and Daniel J. Lang, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

Documentation of the Special Meetings, see

Daniel J. Lang, Annika Weiser, Antje Seidel

Esther Meyer (organization), Daniel Lang (expert)

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For a retrospective view of the conference, please follow this link.

Talk at Remote Control Conference in Berlin

Berlin, Humboldt University, Remote Control Conference
June, 29th – 30th 2017

Isabell Schrickel gave a presentation on climate mediation – shifting scales of atmospheric intervention.

The escalating explicitness and inversion of the notion of environment is one of the most exciting cultural, technological and scientific endeavors in the 20th and 21st centuries. This inversion is also in many ways a pre-condition for the large-scale development of practices and technologies of remote control discussed during the workshop. The scientific exploration of the atmosphere made great contributions to this environmental inversion, at the latest with the discovery of a planetary scaleanthropogenic climate change. However, attempts to investigate the history of this exploration from an interventionist perspective are still rare. I use the opportunity of the workshop to discuss both historical and contemporary targets of atmospheric intervention through the lens of remote control, because it allows us to embed some of the recent debates on climate change policies in a broader context of control thinking and to highlight some of the problems and asymmetries involved. I compare the more laboratory-inspired atmospheric experiments to control spatially distant atmospheric environments in the mid of the 20th century with the recent visions of climate or geoengineering and the temporal scales and complexities involved. This comparison will hopefully contribute an analysis of the changing scope of atmospheric intervention and the shifting scales of remote control.

Talk at German Development Institute in Bonn

Bonn, Germany
May, 12th – 13th 2017

Esther Meyer and Gregor Schmieg presented a topic which is concerned with interconnections between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement, exploring the role of state, non-state and subnational actors.

Norms regarding the pace of transformative change can be attributed to the individual or subnational entities (micro level), the nation-state or society (meso level), or the international community (macro level). All levels are being addressed in the current global sustainability discourses. Different normative sets and expectations towards the roles of entities may even be conflicting. The level of nation-states and societies is crucial for sustainable development as this is where normative sets from the macro and the micro level have to be reconciled.


Workshop „Thinking the Problematic“

June 22nd – 23rd, 2017: Leuphana University Lüneburg, Campus Building 14
Hosted by Complexity or Control? Paradigms for Sustainable Development
Organized by Erich Hörl, Oliver Leistert and Martin Savransky

For more information and schedule please visit the Leuphana website here.

The figure of the problematic continues to resurface and to haunt both epistemologies and ontologies. From its inception in French historical epistemology it transverses any distinctive division of thoughts and concepts. Our workshop engages in a two day discussion on the contemporary presence of the figure of the problematic and asks how to accept the obligations its decentering forces offer.

Recently, the figure of “the problematic” has re-emerged in areas as different as sociology, philosophy, and sustainability sciences, but its persistence in certain traditions of European philosophy enjoys a much longer history. One of its early manifestations can be found in Henri Bergson’s (1889) concern with the ‘false problems’ that characterize not only modern metaphysics but the articulation of modern culture as such.

The breakthrough of the problematic of “the problematic” can be found in the works of Gaston Bachelard (1949), whose endeavour to historicise and thus re-adjust the relation between philosophy and the sciences mobilised a problematisation of pertaining misleading trajectories fostered by an universal rationalism and an ahistorical epistemology.

Notably, French post-war theory continued to explore the potentialities of the problematic. Most prominently Georges Canguilhem (1966), Gilbert Simondon (2005) and Gilles Deleuze (1992), among others, have put the figure of the problematic to work and tested it in relation to a plethora of practical and speculative concerns. Simondon, for instance, explored the potential of the problematic when he defined the process of individuation as a development of a problematic within and through a milieu. Just like Deleuze, he replaced dialectical reasoning and the negative with an affirmation of the problematic.

Today, a swift radicality of the figure of the problematic continues to haunt both epistemologies and ontologies. In its most radical potential, the problematic transverses any distinctive division of thought. While we certainly welcome that the notion of the problematic has resurfaced in many different discourses more recently, we also witness a tendency to integrate it and contain it into pre-defined fields and concepts, with the potential effect of neutralizing the otherwise radical potentiality of the problematic.

The figure of the problematic resonates well with post-disciplinary ideas of sustainability and transdisciplinarity. This has led us to the hypothetical assumption that there is an undercurrent of the problematic which surfaces now and then and offers its decentering force to those who would accept the obligation.

With this workshop we intend to curve out and put to test if and how today the figure of the problematic can be a device to instigate a decentering of established lines of reasoning which divide and rule over the legitimacies and sanctioned practices in different disciplines.

The figure of the problematic is a research question of „complexity or control? paradigms for sustainable development“ (CCP).

This workshop is a collaboration between CCP and Martin Savransky (Goldsmiths, University of London).

CCP is part of the Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation (CGSC). The CGSC is a collaboration between Leuphana Universität Lüneburg and Arizona State University.

Poster „Thinking the Problematic“

Travelling Codes

Leuphana University: MECS + CCP | CGSC // International Workshop // Circulation And Adaptation Of Models, Data, And Standards In Computer-Based Environmental Science 
March, 30th – 31st 2017

Environmental science and, in particular, climate science is a highly international and interdisciplinary endeavor aiming at global coverage of environmental changes in long-term trends, and at global projections of possible future developments. However, current developments in both climate science and politics question the focus on the globality of the ‘vast machine’ which climate science has become (Edwards, 2010), as calls have intensified for new forms of regional and local knowledge about the effects of climate change and efforts to tackle them, for instance in the form of regional ‘climate services‘.

Against this background, this workshop seeks to use the metaphor of ‘travelling code‘ to make sense of what happens when climate science travels – whether in the form of mobile scientific tools, models, and software codes, circulating data sets and standards, or prominent artifacts like scientific images, knowledge claims or numerical targets. These forms and instances of traveling code encounter diverse cultural and political contexts which, on the one hand, involve a multitude of scientists, politicians, and citizens, with every community arguably incorporating and adapting the ‘codes’ of climate science differently. On the other hand, we may observe universalizing effects of ‘travelling codes’ – the smoothing of epistemic landscapes and the globalisation of scientific practice. This tension, between what we might call ‘localisation‘ and ‘globalisation‘, is of core interest for the workshop, along with the question of how exactly these ‘codes’ travel –through which social and media technologies– between different disciplines and knowledge cultures. What are the software codes, models, standards, data sets and images, the artifacts of climate science, that help us to understand and increasingly shape our world and future, and how have they migrated from their sites of production to new sites of application and interpretation?
Organised by
Gabriele Gramelsberger  (MECS | Leuphana and University Witten/Herdecke)
Isabell Schrickel  (CCP | CGSC) | Leuphana)
Martin Mahony (School of Geography | University of Nottingham)
Keynote by
Matthias Heymann (Aarhus)
Talks by
Paul N. Edwards (Michigan), Gabriele Gramelsberger (Witten / Herdecke), Hélène Guillemot (Paris), Simon Hirsbrunner (Siegen), Catharina Landström (Oxford), Helge Peters (Oxford), Ronlyn Duncan (Lincoln) & Marc Tadaki (British Columbia), Isabell Schrickel (Lüneburg)