Social-ecological research

Sociological and socio-economic issues in environmental research

We launched our Social-ecological research funding program in response to a recommendation from various prominent scientific advisory panels (among them German Council of Environmental Advisors and German Advisory Council on Global Change, (WBGU)) that we expand the scope of our Social-ecological research grants. The transition from environmental to sustainability research has been marked by an increasing emphasis on socioeconomic issues. Thus in 2004 the umbrella program known as “Environmental research” was replaced by a sustainability research program called fona, one of whose main focuses is Social-ecological research.

Our Social-ecological research program got underway in 1999 with a 12 month exploratory phase, during which the research areas for the first five years were defined.
The need to integrate natural and social science research paradigms and achieve sustainable socioeconomic development poses a major challenge for the research community. Addressing the relevant research issues in these domains requires researchers to think and act outside of their customary disciplinary boxes, as well as to build bridges between research based and non-research based knowledge bases in such a way that cross-disciplinary sustainability research is the main focus of all concerned. Consequently, from its inception, our Social-ecological research grants have emphasized the importance of solid theoretical and methodological viability, as well as the development of research capacity through infrastructure support and funding of junior researchers. The second funding phase was inaugurated in 2006 via issuance of the “From knowledge to action: new paths to sustainable consumption” call for proposals. 

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