Read out

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.