Aug 2010	GeoGovernance ist zentrales Element Im Antrag zur Exzellenzinitiative

Geogovernance is a central element in the application for the Excellence Initiative.       > read more

Sep 2010	Beim Schiffbauergasse-Fest wird Wissenschaft zum Anfassen präsentiert

Sep 2010: At the "Schiffbauergasse"-festival science is presented to be touched      > read more

29.10.2010: PCPM Climate Breakfast with Prof. Bierbaum         > read more

Apr 2010	Geo- und Klimawissenschaften im Auswärtigen Amt

Apr 2010: Earth and Environmental Sciences in the Federal Foreign Office.

Feb 2010	PROGRESS startet mit Kickoff-Meeting

Feb 2010: PROGRESS started with Kickoff-Meeting.        > read more

Earth in Transition: Preparing for the Unpredictable

… is a proposal submitted to the German Research Foundation (DFG) to achieve support for establishing a Cluster of Excellence within the framework of the DFG Excellence Initiative, which aims to promote top-level research at German universities and research institutes.

The Potsdam proposal is a joint endeavor by experts working in the field of the Earth Sciences and Political & Administrative Sciences from the University of Potsdam (UP), Freie Universität Berlin (FU), the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM).

The proposal’s principal objective is (i) to develop a systematic understanding of Earth System processes across a broad range of scales, from the Earth’s interior to the surface of its continents and (ii) to explore governance arrangements that allow for effective responses to both short and long-term natural and human-induced environmental hazards. In order to measure, assess, and, where possible, to forecast the dynamics of Earth System changes, such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, extreme weather events and other climate-related phenomena, we need to advance our understanding of the exceedingly complex functionality and interrelation of Earth Systems. In particular, we face the challenge to produce quantitative data that facilitate the appraisal of the prospects and limits to predict Earth System changes. Based on a thorough understanding of Earth System dynamics, we will analyze how political-administrative systems and societies could deal with the risks and challenges associated with unpredictable environmental changes.

The non-linear behavior of Earth Systems and the broad range of spatial and temporal scales over which changes occur constitute the principal elements of the proposed research. While the Earth Sciences increase our scientific knowledge of Earth System changes, attempts to translate this knowledge into political strategies have often failed, both as a result of the uncertainties that may sometimes be present in scientific knowledge, and also because institutional and organizational requirements for effective planning and response are often not available. Understanding and dealing with inherent uncertainties in the Earth System, however, is a prerequisite for scientists, public policy-makers and policy-implementers alike, in the pursuit of strategies to ensure the sustainability of an increasingly complex global society. The cluster is thus interested in identifying the key features of policy-relevant scientific knowledge and the fundamental institutional requirements to translate this knowledge into effective political strategies, which reduce social vulnerability, increase the adaptive capacity of public administrations and enhance societal resilience towards geo-hazards. Therefore, we seek to explore to what extent and under what conditions governance structures and processes facilitate or constrain the capability of public and private actors at local, national and international levels of successfully managing short- and long-term challenges associated Earth System changes.

To achieve this goal we will first need to harness our knowledge of the physico-chemical processes underlying Earth System changes and their potentially adverse impacts on the human habitat. Secondly, we will combine geo-scientific approaches with expertise of the Political & Administrative Sciences on social and political institutions and organizations. We will analyze the states of the Earth System within three interrelated process-based research themes, dealing with Restless ContinentsWater & Soils,Climate & Surface Processes and link them to the cross-cutting issue of Geo-Governance. ‘Geo-Governance’, as we use the term, denotes any institutionalized mode of coordinated action with and without government at various levels of decision-making that aim to respond to both short and long-term natural and human-induced Earth System changes and comprises, for example, coordination through hierarchy, markets, networks, and negotiations.

Our research network will be centered on the Potsdam-Berlin International EarthCampus. TheEarthCampus will be ideally equipped to take on this challenge because of the diverse nature of its human resources, the excellent cooperation between universities and long-standing partnerships with extramural research institutes. In order to provide a link between the research expertise, public policy-making, outreach and graduate education, a Young Academy will be established within theEarthCampus. This will provide a platform for transdisciplinary activities, as well as equipping the next generation of Earth Scientists and public policy-makers with the skills that they will require to cope with our changing planet.

Partners of the initiative are:

  • Universität Potsdam

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences and

Department of Biochemistry and Biology

  • Freie Universität Berlin

Institute of Meteorology, Institute of Geological Sciences and Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU)

  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum
  • Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung e.V.
  • Stiftung Alfred-Wegener-Institut  für Polar- und Meeresforschung

Forschungsstelle Potsdam

  • Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam
  • Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, Berlin