Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research (URCforSR)

  • Project team:

    Grunwald, Armin (Project leader); Franka Steiner (Project coordinator), Jürgen Kopfmüller, Helmut Lehn, Volker Stelzer, Rolf Meyer

  • Funding:

    European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), INTERREG V Upper Rhine

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    University of Basel; University of Freiburg; French-German Institute for Environmental Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; University of Koblenz-Landau; Université de Haute-Alsace; Université de Strasbourg; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) – Alsace

  • Research group:

    Sustainability and environment

Project description

The Upper Rhine Cluster for Sustainability Research (URCforSR) includes the universities of “Eucor – The European Campus” in Basel, Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Mulhouse, and Strasbourg, the University of Koblenz-Landau with its Landau location, as well as various universities of applied sciences and research institutes as associated partners.

The project’s longer-term objective is to establish a research association of European significance and to develop joint excellent, cross-border and interdisciplinary research activities that accrue to society through far-reaching knowledge transfer. The existing cooperation with the Graduate Academy SERIOR as well as with Eucor – The European Campus strengthen the exchange of resources and knowledge in the Upper Rhine region.

The research activities are geared to the comprehensive subject matter “Governance of sustainable growth“, which is subdivided into five fields of investigation:

  • Governance
  • Energy, infrastructure & societal change
  • Transformation processes & technologies
  • Resource management
  • Multiculturalism & multilingualism

The Cluster is not committed to a specific scientific sustainability approach. It follows a profile framework which, on the one hand, draws from general reflections on the overriding topics of „sustainable development“ and, on the other, from the expectations of the trinational region to support sustainable development in the Upper Rhine region according to the mentioned core areas.

Despite the diversity of often controversial suggestions on what exactly sustainability means, there is a common understanding of some basic elements within the Cluster:

(1) It is about human-nature relationships, i.e., it must be taken into account that the social use and design of resources depends on the state of the natural and social systems, which can be associated with different risks.

(2) Intra-generational and inter-generational justice should be fundamental principles for shaping sustainable development in society. This involves issues of quality of life over generations and issues of distribution within and between generations.

(3) It is about steering or transforming societies towards greater sustainability in the sense of adapting to changing natural or social conditions.

The Cluster builds on its partners’ existing research competencies, but aims to break new ground and promote scientific innovation through interdisciplinary and cross-border cooperation:

  • Overarching questions: What is “sustainable growth”? How to steer the development towards “sustainable growth”?
  • Cooperation of all four major academic cultures (engineering, natural sciences, economic and social sciences)
  • The cluster supports and institutionalizes cross-border (two or more countries) cooperation between researchers.
  • The Trinational Metropolitan Region itself is a prominent, but – particularly in the case of comparative research – not exclusive, object of investigation.

The research cluster covers the entire spectrum of knowledge production activities from basic research to knowledge transfer in both economy and society.


Franka Steiner, Dipl.-Geoökol.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe