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Board of Directors appointed: Sustainability Centre starts with a lot of tailwind

With the Kassel Institute for Sustainability, Hessen has a new scientific centre. The General Assembly formally appointed the Board of Directors at the University of Kassel on Wednesday afternoon (15 March), thus concluding the founding phase of the centre for sustainability research and teaching.

Image: Sonja Rode.

In the new institute, up to 17 professorships will conduct research and teach along the lines of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - a unique concept in Germany. Research projects that the scientists have already started range from reforestation in Chile to nature as a legal entity.

"The development towards a more sustainable way of life is one of the great global challenges of our time. To meet it, we need smart scientists who network and work inter- and transdisciplinarily. This is exactly what the Kassel Institute for Sustainability is meant to stand for," says Hesse's Minister of Science Angela Dorn. "I am pleased that the University of Kassel, with the support of the State of Hesse from the 300 Professorships Programme and the LOEWE research funding programme, is creating this centre, which is unique in Germany, and is also closely linking research with teaching. Especially in the field of ecological, economic and social sustainability, the University of Kassel already has a strong profile, which will be further sharpened and made more visible by the new centre."

Of 23 professorships that the University of Kassel receives from the so-called 300 Professorship Programme of the State of Hesse, up to 15 will go to the centre; others will come from a tenure-track programme. Six of the professorships have already been filled, including, as of recently, three of the four so-called core professorships whose holders form the directorate: At the beginning of March, Prof. Andra-Ioana Horcea-Milcu took up her professorship as the third member of the Directorate. The other members of the Directorate are Prof. Dr. Andreas Fischer-Lescano - whose professorship is funded as a LOEWE top professorship by the state of Hesse - and Prof. Dr. Andreas Braun. The appointment process is currently underway for another core professorship.

"It is not enough to talk about the transformation to a more sustainable society, we have to do something," affirmed Prof. Dr. Ute Clement, President of the University of Kassel. "As the University of Kassel, we have been conducting research on social, ecological and economic sustainability for a long time, and with the support of the state of Hesse we are expanding this focus even further. But we don't just want to do research, we want to bring our findings into society, and we want to educate young people here so that they can help shape the upcoming transformations towards a more sustainable society. We have gained wonderful new colleagues for this, and there is a palpable spirit of optimism. Anyone thinking about science and sustainability will not be able to avoid Kassel in the future."

In addition to research, the Kassel Institute will make a significant contribution to numerous new sustainability degree programmes from 2024 onwards, thus expanding and updating the range of courses offered at Hesse's northernmost university. The Master's programme Agriculture, Ecology and Societies, which was conceived even before the Kassel Institute was launched, will start as early as the coming winter semester and will be expanded in the future with courses offered by the Kassel Institute. Two research training groups have already started to flank the work of the Centre: The programme "Just Transitions" (with the support of the Hans Böckler Foundation) deals with conflicts between social and ecological sustainability goals, the programme "Circles" investigates recycling possibilities for urban biowaste.