Research Priorities

Our research focuses on the intersection between environmental, climate and development politics and addresses institutional questions concerning developing countries and emerging markets. Aside from work on Climate Engineering, politicization of climate politics and the role of standards, we pursue the following topics in particular:

How can climate change measures be institutionalized in the long run? Guided by this question, we conduct the DFG-funded project Institutionalizing Low Carbon Development (INLOCADE) since January 1st, 2021. We are specifically investigating the promotion of solar energy and climate-friendly agroforestry in the emerging countries of Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa. The two CO2-intensive sectors of energy and agriculture offer promising solutions for a transformation towards a climate-friendly society. At the same time, encouraging projects keep failing. With INLOCADE, we analyze the processes and conditions that affect the political institutionalization of climate protection measures. We aim to explain why climate protection is advancing at different speeds and why in some cases, little progress or even a reversal of previous successes is achieved. INLOCADE is jointly conducted by researchers at the TU Darmstadt and the University of Potsdam. The project follows up on an earlier DFG-funded project on carbon governance arrangements. Further information about INLOCADE can be found here

In many ‘developing states’, governments modernize their administrative bodies and expand their bureaucracies. At the same time, we observe that in the Developmental State, a historically strongly emphasized autonomy of public administration has partly negative effects on (democratic) control and politico-economic innovative ability and that ‘the state’ has to find new sources of legitimacy. This project is aimed at assessing (new) types of statehood which strike different balances between strong and inclusive institutions and presumably related trade-offs. Possible cases are Vietnam, Indonesia or Thailand in Southeast Asia as well as Costa Rica, Ethiopia or Ruanda. This project is based on preliminary work on the topic of environmental authoritarianism in developing states.

Project within the framework of the FONA “Forschungsinitiative zum Erhalt der Artenvielfalt” on the topic of “Valuing and safeguarding biodiversity in politics, economy and society” – conception phase

In view of the ongoing insect mortality and increasing biodiversity losses, various measures to promote biodiversity are currently being proposed, researched and implemented at different levels. In this context, the interdisciplinary project BioDivKultur is primarily dedicated to insect conservation on green spaces of cities/municipalities, businesses and agriculture.

Species-rich grassland areas (meadows and pastures) are known to provide a habitat for many insects. However, there are also habitats in parks, green strips (field margins, roadside verges) and commercial green spaces that are similar to grassland and can or could provide suitable habitats for a large number of insect species. In this context, those who own, manage, and/or maintain such areas face a variety of design decisions, ranging from the basic question of what open green space should remain (in addition to structuring it with trees, shrubs/hedges, water, beds, dead wood, etc.) to options for shaping the green space itself (e.g., through overgrowth and mowing). These decisions are made against the backdrop of different value attitudes towards nature, different use interests (e.g., recreation, aesthetics, safety, agricultural yield, securing ecosystem services), and pragmatic constraints (e.g., cost and time required for maintenance).

The BioDivKultur project, in which biologists work together with humanities scholars and social scientists, is dedicated to value attitudes, interests of use, options for action, and possibilities for regulation in the design and maintenance of green spaces. The aim is to investigate and test how biodiversity as a value and as an interest in use can become more effective in communicative, political and practical terms in the design of green spaces (understood as the establishment of multi-layered “biodiversity cultures”). The specific biological focus will be on options for better insect conservation in open green spaces of urban, commercial, and agricultural areas, especially in the context of mowing (mowing technique, frequency, and timing; distribution of mowed areas and refugia in the context of the respective framing structures; selection of plant communities and seed choice).

The data collection will be carried out in three model cities of different federal states (Darmstadt, Bamberg, Göttingen). Local stakeholders from the field will be involved (in Darmstadt, for example, BUND and the environmental office of the city of Darmstadt) to jointly promote knowledge, acceptance and feasibility of more effective insect conservation.further information

Project leaders:

  • Prof. Dr. Nico Blüthgen (FB Biology/Ecological Networks; Spokesperson)
  • Dr. Nadja Simons (FB Biology/Ecological Networks)
  • Prof. Dr. Nina Janich (FB Social and Historical Sciences/Germanic Linguistics)
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Lederer (FB Social and Historical Sciences/International Relations)
  • Prof. Dr. Alfred Nordmann (FB Social and Historical Sciences/Philosophy of Science and Technology)

Project collaborator:

  • Geneviève Walther

Cooperation partners:

  • Umweltamt
  • BUND
  • DiNaDa

As part of the project “Biodiversitätskulturen in Stadt und Land”, young scientists from the Technical University of Darmstadt will talk about their own perspectives and research results on the topic of species protection.

Podcast (german only)

As part of the BioDivKultur project, young scientists from the Technical University of Darmstadt will talk about their own perspectives and research results on the topic of species protection.

Closed research projects