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Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change (KAT)

Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change (KAT)
Project team:

Parodi, Oliver (Co-project leader); Andreas Seebacher (Co-project leader); Marius Albiez, Richard Beecroft, Annika Fricke, Lea Herfs, Sarah Meyer-Soylu, Volker Stelzer, Helena Trenks, Susanne Veith, Felix Wagner, Colette Waitz, Eva Wendeberg


Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts; Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers; Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Start date:


Research group:

Sustainability and Social Transformation

Project description

Between knowledge and action lies the experiment, the venture of starting something new. Along these lines, the “Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change” (KAT) wants to develop and test integrative sustainability solutions in transdisciplinary experiments in cooperation with science and society, and dares to tackle, explore, and shape the change.

The goal of the ITAS project is to have KAT designed, realized, and institutionalized by spring 2020. Its epistemic and creative core will be an institutionalized real-world lab, which conducts research in the framework of a real-world research infrastructure and allows for transformation at the same time. The lab is directly based upon the structures, competences, and experiences of the KIT real-world lab complex “District Future – Urban Lab” (QZ) and “Urban Transition Lab 131” (R131), which has already received numerous awards, and the “Karlsruhe School of Sustainability” (KSN), consolidates them, and adds significant functions and tasks (see below).

As of 2020, KAT shall be an independent organizational unit to continue, expand, and further establish the real-world lab work started with District Future in 2012, in order to accompany and initiate transformation processes towards sustainable ways of life and sustainable business activities in the long term. According to its overarching goals of sustainability research and design, KAT is supposed to be financed and run by science and other societal actors in equal parts after 2020.

Future goals and tasks of KAT

KAT shall synergistically focus on the following tasks and goals:

  • Research: KAT conducts transformative sustainability research. Apart from this (application- and problem-focused) transdisciplinary research, also basic research on the (conditions for successful) transformation shall be carried out.
  • Experimental space: With its real-world lab, KAT creates, opens up, and maintains experimental spaces.
  • Innovation and action: KAT initiates change, develops and tests social, technological, economic, and other contributions of sustainable development in all areas of life.
  • Education: KAT provides education for sustainable development at the university, in urban society, schools, and the general public.
  • Advice: With its competences and years of experience with real-world labs, KAT provides advice to other institutions, municipalities, transdisciplinary projects, etc.
  • Communication and networking: It promotes the networking of different stakeholders (e.g., technical and social pioneers of change) in various cooperations (SPPPs).
  • Reflection and contemplation: In a restless and more and more tightly scheduled world, KAT also offers places of retreat, a hideaway, and thinking spaces for pioneers of change.

Many of these tasks are or have already been accomplished during the development phase of KAT, either in the framework of R131 (2015-2017) or during the current operation of QZ, e.g., in the framework of the partner projects “Energy transformation in dialog”, “Klimaschutz gemeinsam wagen”, or “GreenLung”. However, they will be considerably expanded and intensified after 2020.


Over the next few years, the “Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change” will become a regionally, nationally, and internationally effective and visible motor for sustainable development. KAT supports, investigates, and shapes the great human task of the “grand transformation” (WBGU 2011, 2016) and questions at the same time some fundamental cultural patterns of our (global) unsustainable ways of life and doing business. Its integrative and synergetic linking of research, practice, and education invites us to overcome existing societal system boundaries, particular interests, and schools of thoughts by looking for real alternatives and starting points for viable cultures of sustainability.

If you are interested in a cooperation in the framework of KAT, please do not hesitate to contact us (KAT∂itas.kit.edu).

Selected publications

Parodi, O.; Ley, A.; Fokdal, J.; Seebacher, A.
Empfehlungen für die Förderung und Weiterentwicklung von Reallaboren. Erkenntnisse aus der Arbeit der BaWü-Labs In: GAIA 27/1(2018): 178-179.

Beecroft, R.; Trenks, H.; Rhodius, R.; Benighaus, C.; Parodi, O.
Reallabore als Rahmen transformativer und transdisziplinärer Forschung: Ziele und Designprinzipien. In: Defila, R.; Di Giulio, A. (Hrsg.): Transdisziplinär und transformativ forschen. Eine Methodensammlung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2018, S. 75-100, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-21530-9_4

Parodi, O.
Zur Reallaborzukunft – Empfehlungen aus den BaWü-Labs. Vortrag auf dem Reallabor Symposium, Karlsruhe, 27.04.2018

Parodi, O.; Ley, A.; Fokdal, J.; Seebacher, A.
Empfehlungen für die Förderung und den Aufbau von Reallaboren. Ein Positionspapier der BaWü-Labs. http://www.t1p.de/Positionspapier-BaWue-Labs (27.07.2018)

Parodi, O.; Schäpke, N.
Reallabore: Konzeption, Kerncharakteristika und Praxisbeispiele. Vortrag beim Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung, Bonn, 01.02.2018

Parodi, O.; Tamm, K. (Hrsg.)
Personal sustainability – Exploring the far side of sustainable development. London, New York: Routledge 2018
mehr zum Buch

Parodi, O.; Waitz, C.; Bachinger, M.; Kuhn, R.; Meyer-Soylu, S.
Insights into and recommendations from three real-world laboratories – An experience-based comparison. GAIA 27(2018)S1, S. 52-59, DOI: 10.14512/gaia.27.S1.12

Singer-Brodowski, M.; Beecroft, R.; Parodi, O.
Learning in Real-World Laboratories. A Systematic Impulse for Discussion. In GAIA 27/S1(2018): 23-27.

Trenks, H.; Waitz, C.; Meyer-Soylu, S.; Parodi, O.
Mit einer Realexperimentreihe Impulse für soziale Innovationen setzen – Realexperimente initiieren, begleiten und beforschen. In: Defila, R.; Di Giulio, A. (Hrsg.): Transdisziplinär und transformativ forschen. Eine Methodensammlung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2018, S. 263-268, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-21530-9_12

Parodi, O.
Reallabore als gesellschaftliche Lernorte ... und als Bildungseinrichtungen? Vortrag zum Workshop „Reallabore als transformative Methode in der Nachhaltigkeitsbildung“, Wuppertal Institut, 25.01.0217

Parodi, O.; Albiez, M.; Beecroft, R.; Meyer-Soylu, S.; Quint, A.; Seebacher, A.; Trenks, H.; Waitz, C.
Das Konzept „Reallabor“ schärfen. Ein Zwischenruf des Reallabor 131: KIT findet Stadt. GAIA 25(2016)4, S. 284-285, publ. online, DOI: 10.14512/gaia.25.4.11

Parodi, O.; Beecroft, R.; Albiez, M.; Quint, A.; Seebacher, A.; Tamm, K.; Waitz, C.
The ABC of real-world lab methodology – From “action research” to “participation” and beyond. TRIALOG 126/127 (2016)3-4 (October 2017), S. 74-82

Quint, A.; Parodi, O.
Die Zukunft europäischer Städte – Herausforderungen an eine nachhaltige Entwicklung. Stadt+Raum 38(2017)2, S. 74-76

Waitz, C.; Quint, A.; Trenks, H.; Parodi, O.; Jäkel, A.; Lezuo, D.; Wäsche, H.
Das Reallabor als Motor für nachhaltige Quartiersentwicklung – Erfahrungen aus dem Karlsruher Experimentierraum. Berichte. Geographie und Landeskunde 91(2017)1, S. 67-80

Albiez, M.; Banse, G.; Lindeman, K.; Quint, A. (Hrsg.)
Designing Sustainable Urban Futures — Concepts and Practices from Different Countries. Karlsruhe: KIT Publishing 2016

Beecroft, R.; Parodi, O.
Reallabore als Orte der Nachhaltigkeitsforschung und Transformation. In Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 25(2016)3, S. 4-8

Luederitz, C.; Schäpke, N.; Wiek, A.; Lang, D.J.; Bergmann, M.; Bos, J.J.; Burch, S.; Davies, A.; Evans, J.; König, A.; Farrelly, M.A.; Forrest, N. und weitere, sowie Parodi, O. et al.
Learning through evaluation – a tentative scheme for sustainability transition experiments. Journal of Cleaner Production (2016), publ. online, DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.09.005

Lützkendorf, T.; Albiez, M.; Balouktsi, M.; Kopfmüller, J.
Supporting urban district development by accompanying sustainability assessment. In: Zentrum für Energie, Bauen, Architektur und Umwelt – ZEBAU (Hrsg.): Proceedings of the SBE 16 International Conference on Sustainable Built Environment, Hamburg, 08.-11.03.2016. Hamburg: 2016, S. 1104-1113

Meyer-Soylu, S.; Parodi, O.; Trenks, H.; Seebacher, A.
Das Reallabor als Partizipationskontinuum. Erfahrungen aus dem Quartier Zukunft und Reallabor 131 in Karlsruhe. Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 25(2016)3, S. 18-27

Parodi, O.; Albiez, M.; Meyer-Soylu, S.; Waitz, C.
Das „Quartier Zukunft – Labor Stadt“: ein reales Reallabor. In: Hahne, U.; Kegler, H. (Hrsg.): Resilienz / Stadt und Region – Reallabore der resilienzorientierten Transformation. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang 2016, S. 101-125
(Stadtentwicklung, Bd. 1)

Parodi, O.; Beecroft, R.; Albiez, M.; Quint, A.; Seebacher, A.; Tamm, K.; Waitz, C.
Von „Aktionsforschung“ bis „Zielkonflikte“ – Schlüsselbegriffe der Reallaborforschung. Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 25(2016)3, S. 9-18

Waitz, C.; Meyer-Soylu, S.
Das ReparaturCafé als Transformationselement im urbanen Raum. In: Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 25(2016)2, S. 22-28

Parodi, O.; Seebacher, A.; Quint, A.; Albiez, M.; Meyer-Soylu, S.; Waitz, C.
Das „Quartier Zukunft – Labor Stadt“. Nachhaltige Stadtentwicklung als Scientific Public Private Partnership. polis – Magazin für Urban Development (2015)4, S. 30-32

Seebacher, A.; Albiez, M.; Parodi, O.; Quint, A.; Zimmer-Merkle, S.; Walter, I.
Wie Nachhaltigkeit möglich ist. Leporello. Karlsruhe: 2014



Dr. phil. Dipl.-Ing. Oliver Parodi,
Dr. Ing. Andreas Seebacher

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe