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Institute for Social Change and Sustainability

The IGN explores the interdependence of the development of modern societies and their discourses and politics of sustainability. It approaches issues of sustainability, which elsewhere are often addressed from a natural sciences, economic or technological point of view, from an explicitly social scientific perspective.

Social change is not primarily a normative demand for us, but we conceptualise it first and foremost as an ever evolving reality, the causes, implications and effects of which we only partially understand. Accordingly, our key question is how this evolutionary change constantly remoulds the conditions for a successful politics of sustainability, and how it changes the understanding of sustainability itself.  

Sustainability we understand as an idea and project that is based on culturally determined and socially negotiated values and norms, which keep evolving as societal development proceeds: What is being considered as sustainable, where societal perceptions of unsustainability emerge, to what extend such perceptions trigger concern and to what kind of action such concerns may give rise are, to a considerable extent, matters for the sociological, cultural and political sciences. Exactly these questions inspire and power our academic enquiry.

The IGN is part of the Department of Socio-Economics, which has a well-established focus on issues of sustainability in its research as well as its teaching programmes. The Institute is directed by Ingolfur Blühdorn (formerly University of Bath, UK) who was appointed to the WU’s newly established chair in Social Sustainability in 2015.