Sustainability in Research

Our Vision

Through its high-level research, the University of Bonn will act as an agent of change, helping to lay the foundations for transformation processes affecting the whole of society. Many of our researchers are studying sustainable development issues, thus establishing a valuable knowledge base for debates, political and personal decision-making, and answering pressing social questions. In particular, we are supporting inter- and transdisciplinary research and promoting the transfer of research findings into day-to-day work and society.

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© Universität Bonn

We are formulating our sustainability strategy in a continuous participatory process as part of the University’s own sustainability platform, known as BOOST (Bonn Program for Sustainable Transformation). Strategic objectives and measures for research are being developed in a dedicated working group.

News from Research
Economist Julia Mink is new Argelander Professor

How do pollution and climate change affect health and the associated costs? How do people adapt to their environmental conditions, and what factors are crucial for such adaptability? Julia Mink, new Argelander Professor at the University of Bonn, addresses these and other questions. In the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals, Institutions and Societies", she will work at the interface of environmental and health economics.

Aimee van Wynsberghe admitted to academy

The Academy of Sciences and Literature has admitted six new members. Among them is Humboldt Professor Aimee van Wynsberghe. The AI ethicist from the University of Bonn has become a full member of the Humanities and Social Sciences Class.

National parks - islands in a desert?

How effective is biodiversity conservation of European and African national parks? This seems to be strongly associated with societal and economic conditions. But even under the most favourable conditions, conservation efforts cannot completely halt emerging threats to biodiversity if conditions outside of the parks do not improve. This is the conclusion of a new study led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI EVA), and the University of Bonn, in collaboration with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig University, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and many other institutions. The study published in the journal Nature Sustainability highlights the urgent need for a better design of national park networks.

Soil scientist receives Klaus Töpfer Research Prize

Not only in the sea, but also in our soils there is "invisible" plastic - nanoplastics to be precise. This is a problem because it can be absorbed by plants and thus enter the food chain. But how much of such plastic is actually hiding in the soil? To find out, Dr. Melanie Braun from the University of Bonn wants to develop a new method. For her innovative project, the junior scientist has now received the Klaus Töpfer Research Prize worth 50,000 euros, which is awarded internally by the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures" (TRA Sustainable Futures) at the University of Bonn. The prize was named after Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, former Federal Minister for the Environment and pioneer of climate policy, who was a guest at the award ceremony.

High-Level Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research

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6 Clusters of Excellence

How can technologies unlock sustainable crop production? How do policy instruments impact social and economic inequality? These and other questions are being addressed by researchers from various disciplines in the University of Bonn’s six Clusters of Excellence.

The Robotics and Phenotyping for Sustainable Crop Production cluster, or PhenoRob for short, is Germany’s only Cluster of Excellence in the agricultural sciences. 

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
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6 Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs)

The University maintains six Transdisciplinary Research Areas in which researchers from all its faculties are studying cross-cutting issues together. This transdisciplinary approach is producing innovative research that reflects a variety of perspectives.

Sustainability issues also play a major role in terms of content here, such as in the Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures TRA.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn

Research in collaborative projects

As a University of Excellence, the University of Bonn is among the universities with the strongest track records for research in Europe. It is known for its high-level research, which is underpinned by an international network and an innovative and cosmopolitan research culture.

The University conducts research into sustainability issues as part of numerous collaborative projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the European Union (EU) and other third parties.

Selected Institutions

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Center for Development Research (ZEF)

The Center for Development Research is an institute at the University of Bonn that conducts trans- and interdisciplinary research. The researchers at the ZEF devise scientifically sound answers to questions of development policy. Doctoral students, researchers and partner institutions from all over the world come together at the ZEF to work toward solving global challenges.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Volker Lannert

Klein-Altendorf Sustainability Campus

The Klein-Altendorf Campus (CKA) is one of the Faculty of Agriculture’s three off-site laboratories. It hosts numerous tests and experiments by the University’s institutes and partner research institutions. 

Issues connected with crop production are its main focus.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
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Sustainable AI Lab

Outstanding researchers from various disciplines are working together in the Sustainable AI Lab to study the environmental, social and economic consequences of designing, developing and using artificial intelligence (AI). 

The laboratory is the brainchild of AI ethicist Prof. Dr. Aimee van Wynsberghe, Director of the Institute of Science and Ethics at the University of Bonn. 

Networking and Transfer

Partnerships for meeting sustainability targets

The University of Bonn collaborates with a wide range of partners in order to advance sustainability research at a local, national and global level and transfer research findings to the economy and society. We make the most of the unique advantage that Bonn offers us as a UN city.

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enaCom Transfer Center

The enaCom Transfer Center sees itself as an intermediary, translator and catalyst between science and other stakeholders whose purpose is to make research findings available for the benefit of society.

Part of Research and Innovation Services, the enaCom Transfer Center is the first port of call for any questions about knowledge and technology transfer.

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Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research

With its six partner institutions, the Bonn Alliance combines basic and applied research conducted by both universities and non-university institutions.  It takes account of the complexity of the problems and issues presented by the sustainability landscape by adopting an interconnected approach to science and research. Its common aim is to provide scientific support to the implementation of the UN’s Agenda 2030 on every level from the local to the global. The Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research was set up at COP23 in November 2017 under the overall leadership of the University of Bonn.

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Research networks 

The universities of North Rhine-Westphalia have joined forces in the Humboldtn network in order to share responsibility for sustainability issues of relevance to the future. 

The University of Bonn is also an active member of other German and international sustainability networks, including the German Association for Sustainability at Universities (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltigkeit an Hochschulen, or DG HochN) and the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN).

since 1819

Sustainability research at the University of Bonn

1934

Foundation of the Faculty of Agriculture

2017

Founding of Bonn Alliance for the Sustainability Research in context of COP23

Work in progress

This web page will be added to gradually. 

See also

Sustainability in teaching at the University of Bonn

Vice Rectorate for Sustainability and Sustainability Unit

Bonn Program for Sustainable Transformation—BOOST

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