Knowledgefor theTransformation

The transformation to a sustainable, low-carbon and resource-light society is an open search process. Research and education are key. 

Science has the task shaping visions and development paths with politics, business and society, as well as supporting and driving sustainable technical and social innovations. Educational processes – analogue and digital – create problem awareness, train systemic thinking and help find guidance in complex transformation processes and develop corresponding competences. Today we live in a "scientific society" in which science has become an indispensable part of modern life.   

We are living in a knowledge society in which science has become an indispensable part of modern life.

Transformation to a sustainable society
The transformation to a sustainable, climate-friendly and resource-sparing society is an open search process. It can help to bundle system, transformation and target knowledge.

The way science is conducted has significant impacts on our understanding of progress and our approach towards great ecological and societal challenges. Scientific processes are of tremendous relevance to modern knowledge societies.

Orientation in complex processes of transformation

How we deal with societal transformations such as moving towards sustainable development is of special importance. These are fundamental changes to our technological basis, our economic processes as well as their societal and cultural foundations. Such dramatic changes need a special "transformative literacy", the ability to find orientation in complex if not chaotic revolutions. Such a literacy will have technological, economic, institutional and cultural elements.

This means that the information about social change processes is not only understood, but that this knowledge leads to bringing one's own actions into these processes. In order to drive transformation processes forward, however, it is not only a matter of extensive knowledge, but also of the ability to manage change. The transformation to a socially and ecologically fair world can succeed with the help of the "Zukunftskunst" (future literacy). This refers to the ability to combine cultural change, smart politics, new economies and innovative technologies. This is how the energy and mobility transition, the food transition or sustainable change in cities become possible. These competences are essential to combine cultural change, smart policies, new economies and innovative technologies.

This is a tremendous challenge – for both the science and the education system. The Wuppertal Institute contributes to such "transformative literacy" with its research. A central role is played by the methods of transdisciplinary research, which not only integrate knowledge from various disciplines, but also actively draws on the knowledge of practitioners in the knowledge processes.

Real-world laboratories, especially living labs, are another important approach of the Wuppertal Institute in understanding and managing complex processes of change together with practitioners. Skills in actually implementing transformation become a part of scientific practice. Our real-world and living labs are located in Wuppertal, other nearby cities and within European consortiums.

Education for Sustainable Development means empowering people and society to competently orientate themselves within complex transformation processes and to shape changes and perfectly fitting sustainability solutions that are suitable for daily use in real life laboratories.

Dr. Carolin Baedeker


In the field of science and education and within the context of sustainability, the Wuppertal Institute deals with system challenges on all levels of the science and education sector:


Here you find up-to-date information on research findings and publications in the field of science & education.


The focus of research projects in the field of science & education lies on the mutual learning process. In the following you find selected sample projects. A complete list is available here.

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