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Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography

The Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography stands for the innovative pooling of social science expertise with regard to questions concerning the environment, natural resources and sustainability. The Institute is dedicated to the analysis of complex relationships between people, society and the environment, especially in the context of global change and social transformations towards sustainability. Its work is based on a solid foundation of different disciplinary perspectives, from geography and political science to history and economics. At the same time, the Institute frequently draws on transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary forms of cooperation, thus contributing to a holistic approach in research and teaching. In addition to internal cooperation, the Institute's chair groups are well integrated into excellent national and international scientific networks.


With its clear focus on issues relating to the environment, natural resources and sustainability, research at the Institute is characterized by a productive combination of theory-based approaches and solid empirical work. The spectrum of problems addressed ranges from the local to the national and international level. Research objectives range – depending on the topic – from critical analysis and deconstruction of social processes to the development of concrete problem solutions and to instrumental contributions to conflict resolution or process design. The practical relevance of the Institute’s research is demonstrated, among other things, by close and successful involvement of many of its members in scientific policy advice.


The Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography contributes to almost all Bachelor programmes of the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources. Teaching is focussed on fundamental social science knowledge, methods and skills, e.g. in policy analysis, economic evaluation or business management.

The Institute’s teaching staff are also involved in many of the Master programmes offered at the Faculty. In particular, the Institute contributes comprehensive and important profile-building teaching units to the Master's programmes in Environmental Sciences and Forest Sciences. It also is primarily responsible for the social science-oriented Master's programme in Environmental Governance (MEG) and the integrative Master’s programme Geography of Global Change. The latter combines natural and social sciences content and allows students to specialize in either of the two areas of physical and human geography.

In addition, the members of the Institute are engaged in the Graduate School Environment, Society and Global Change. The Graduate School combines current research work with the training of doctoral students and serves as an important interface between the Faculty’s three Institutes.

Further Information

More information on teaching and research priorities of the individual chair groups and their staff can be found on the following websites:


Associated chair groups: