Transformative Research

Transformative research contributes to solving societal problems and is characterized by an explicit aspiration to get involved: The aim is to catalyse processes of change and to actively involve stakeholders in the research process. In this way, transformative research generates "socially robust" knowledge needed for sustainability transitions.

Research at the Wuppertal Institute thus follows a transdisciplinary concept of knowledge: it does not only serve to generate "systems knowledge" (e.g. technological or resource-oriented systems analysis), but also integrates stakeholders in the process of generating "target knowledge" (visions and guiding principles) and "transformation knowledge" in concrete settings of urban or sectoral transitions to sustainability.

Transformative research contributes to solving societal problems and is characterised by an explicit aspiration to get involved: The aim is to catalyse processes of change and to actively involve stakeholders in the research process. In this way, transformative research generates "socially robust" knowledge needed for sustainability transitions. Research at the Wuppertal Institute thus follows a transdisciplinary concept of knowledge: it does not only serve to generate "systems knowledge" (e.g. technological or resource-oriented systems analysis), but also integrates stakeholders in the process of generating "target knowledge" (visions and guiding principles) and “transformation knowledge” in concrete settings of urban or sectoral transitions to sustainability.

Transformation knowledge

The quality of transformative research must be measured on the basis of its own aspiration to catalyse societal change for sustainability. Assessment schemes for transformative research thus include not only academic quality criteria, but also new forms of measuring societal impact. At the Wuppertal Institut, transformative research approaches and innovative methods of assuring their scientific quality are being developed. This is done in cooperation with leading national and international institutions in the field of transdisciplinary sustainability research.

Methods and Concepts

Doing transformative research for sustainability transitions, the Wuppertal Institute applies a comprehensive set of methods – ranging from scenario analysis, resource and energy systems modelling to policy analysis and evaluation – for the generation of systems, target and transformation knowledge. A specific type of transformative research is carried out in real-world laboratories where scientists and stakeholders do research together and work on solutions for real-world problems.

The application of these methods and their further development is realised in close cooperation with national and international partners and via internal programs for scientific qualification and dissertation projects supervised at the Wuppertal Institute.

Projects

Here you find selected sample projects with a transformative research approach.