Why are we running this project?

Digitalization has an impact on many levels, which also affect the transformation toward a sustainable society: Besides preserving ecosystem services, this includes matters relating to quality of life, social participation and, in the discourse on human enhancement, the fundamental form of the relationship and interaction between humans, machines, and the environment. Decisions in the sphere of digitalization already have tangible effects in the real world today, even though these may often occur later and elsewhere than their causes. Even experts still disagree about the extent of potential and risk, since digital transformation is an economic, social, and cultural transformation process that is highly dynamic but also comes with a high level of uncertainty.

What are our goals?

The project aims to promote the discourse, especially at the interfaces of the two scientific communities driving sustainability and digitalization, respectively. In doing so, our focus is on the transfer and integration of knowledge into and from society, in an effort to co-create sustainable living spaces.

How does the project work?

A series of workshops combines and systematically relates the logic of the three learning levels – individual, organization, society – to the three compass dimensions of dignity in sustainable development identified by the WBGU: (1) sustaining natural life-support systems, (2) inclusion, and (3) “Eigenart” (individual character).  A total of six workshops, with about eight participants each, will be planned and conducted to examine commonalities and divergences between the agenda of sustainability transformation and digital transformation. The findings from all six workshops will then be presented together in a final symposium.

Who are the target groups?

  • Scientists and practitioners who are key influencers in the discourse on sustainability and digitalization at the German, European, and global levels.
  • Representatives of the (science) policy community and other research institutions that frame the central research agendas for the coming years and shape their implementation. 
  • A broad public, to be familiarized with the complex topics of sustainability and digitalization and their correlations from a focused European perspective (especially in combination with the planned roadshow, for which funding from the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) is sought).

Where is the project run?

The project is run in Germany with participants from all across Europe; the workshop language is English.

Who organizes and supports the project?

The Department  of Sustainability at Leuphana University conducts research with a clear focus on sustainability in order to combine strong disciplinary expertise with inter- and transdisciplinary research. With regard to the workshop series on digitalization and sustainability, Leuphana contributes its expertise in sustainability sciences and in facilitating transdisciplinary multi-stakeholder dialogues. It is responsible for planning the content of the workshops and selecting participants in close coordination with the project partners. Furthermore, it plans the implementation of the workshop series and the utilization of the knowledge gained.

The Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society investigates current social changes that are emerging in connection with digitalization and outlines potential future courses of action in both politics and the economy. For the workshop series, the Weizenbaum Institute contributes its expertise in the field of digitalization, provides support to identify and invite suitable participants, and fosters the transfer of knowledge.

The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) was set up by the German government as an independent scientific advisory body to analyze global environmental and development issues and to report on them in expert reports, evaluate national and international research on global change, be an early-warning voice to draw attention to new problem areas, highlight research shortcomings, and provide impetus for science. Following a lengthy consultation phase with public panel discussions and a published whitepaper, the new 2019 flagship report will   focused on digitalization and sustainability. As a co-host of the workshop series, the WBGU will offer an opportunity for an in-depth discussion of the issues raised in this report as well as contribute contacts and communication channels to the project.