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12/10/2015 | Pressemitteilung

New DFG research group in Kassel and Göttingen on agricultural change in rural-urban areas

How do agricultural, ecological and social systems change under the influence of growing (mega)cities? This is the overarching question being investigated by Research Unit FOR2432, which is being established by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the universities of Kassel and Göttingen. It will start on April 1, 2016, with an initial funding volume of around 3.7 million euros. International partners are involved, including the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, where the cooperating projects are expected to be co-funded by India with 1.2 million euros.

With this decision, the DFG is strengthening the successful cooperation between the agricultural science faculties of the University of Kassel and the Georg-August University of Göttingen with a long-term, structure-building collaborative research project. The new research group takes up current, worldwide discussions on the topics of land and resource use, food security, ecology and urbanization, which will be examined in a broad, interdisciplinary approach using the example of Bangalore. With the South Indian metropolis, a place was chosen where growth and change are particularly dynamic. The research group FOR2432 is entitled "Socio-ecological systems in the field of tension of Indian rural-urban gradients: Functions, Scales, and Transitional Dynamics." It points the way forward for agricultural sciences in Germany by placing basic research from this subject and related disciplines in the context of transformation processes of social-ecological systems.

"The establishment of this research group means a nationally and internationally clearly visible strengthening of the University of Kassel and provides tailwind for the further development of the research profile of our university," said the President of the University of Kassel, Prof. Dr. Reiner Finkeldey, with pleasure. "It is also a testament to the extremely productive and innovative collaboration with the University of Göttingen."

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Beisiegel, President of the University of Göttingen, added: "The scientists in the new research group are dealing with global issues at the interface between humans and nature. With the establishment of the research group, we can further deepen the exciting collaboration with the University of Kassel in agricultural sciences."
The close relationship and interdependence of humans and nature is a fundamental characteristic of agriculture. This relationship was first conceptualized and referred to as the socio-ecological system by Elinor Ostrom, who was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for it in 2009. From an ecological perspective, the concept became known for its importance to ecosystem services. FOR2432 builds on these approaches and brings together the different perspectives under the overarching question of agricultural change in rural-urban areas.

Through three interdisciplinary research clusters, FOR2432 explores the following questions:

How and why do agricultural production systems and household structures change at different stages of urbanization? How does the physical growth of the city affect the capacity of regional ecosystems to provide food and other ecosystem services? How do exchange processes between agroecosystems, between producers and consumers, along agricultural value chains, or between different social groups change as urbanization progresses? How do ecological and social systems interact when conflicting interests of rural and urban lifestyles and land use clash?

The project with 11 subprojects is represented by Prof. Dr. Andreas Bürkert (University of Kassel) as spokesperson and Prof. Dr. Stephan von Cramon-Taubadel (University of Göttingen) as co-spokesperson. Four departments of the University of Kassel (including a professorship jointly established with Göttingen) and five Göttingen departments as well as a university lecturer from James Cook University in Australia are involved. Each German subproject is associated with a scientific partner project in India, which is fully funded in a parallel network by DBT, the DFG's Indian partner organization. The research programs of both sides are closely coordinated, with 16 junior scientists  on the German side and 26 on the Indian side jointly conducting the field research and being able to receive cooperative supervision. The main partner in India is the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore (UASB), but government research institutions for animal nutrition, socio-economic change, forestry and space science as well as the research-oriented non-governmental organization ATREE are also involved. As the first research group of its kind, the project thus also plays a pioneering role in international basic science cooperation with India.

The disciplinary spectrum ranges from soil physics to remote sensing, from crop production and animal nutrition to agricultural and development economics, and beyond agricultural sciences to human geography and ecosystem modeling. Further information on the individual subprojects is available at


Image (Photo: Bürkert/University of Kassel) at:
Caption: City and country - nomads in the outskirts of Bangalore.


Contact addresses:

Prof. Dr. Andreas Bürkert

University of Kassel - Organic Crop Production and Agroecosystem Research in the Tropics and Subtropics

Steinstraße 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany, phone (05542) 98-1228

E-mail: buerkert[at]uni-kassel[dot]de, Internet:


Prof. Dr. Stephan von Cramon-Taubadel

Georg-August University of Göttingen - Agricultural Policy

Place of the Göttingen Seven 5

37073 Göttingen, Phone (0551 39-22872

E-mail: scramon[at]gwdg[dot]de, Internet: