Despite various efforts, the “great transformation” (WBGU 2011) towards a more sustainable lifestyle and form of economic activity has stalled – at a global, national, and also regional level. In this process, it becomes more and more apparent that technical innovations are indeed indispensable and essential for sustainable development, but that social innovations and – eventually – a profound cultural change has to take place as well. Against this background, the research group addresses the societal challenges of sustainable development, particularly in urban spaces.
Their focus is on transdisciplinary and transformative research methods, aiming at the development, testing, and research of sustainable solutions in cooperation with science and society. This often implies a problem- and application-oriented approach. The group has long-term experience and particular competences in real-world lab research. Since 2012, it runs the real-world lab District Future with a large number of sub-projects and experiments and also provides significant theoretical and conceptual impulses for real-world lab research. The group is also responsible for the development of the Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change whose range of tasks includes not only research, but also education, consulting, innovation, reflection, and contemplation – always guided by the concept of sustainable development.