Interview with Prof. Dr. Susanne Stoll-Kleemann and Prof. Dr. Jelena Bäumler

Building bridges – interdisciplinary research on sustainability

Picture of Stoll-Kleemann

With the newly founded Research Directorate, IKEM would like to expand its work with additional perspectives and strengthen its interdisciplinary research on climate protection, energy and transport transition. In the interview with the two members of the Board of Directors, Prof. Dr. Susanne Stoll-Kleemann and Prof. Dr. Jelena Bäumler, we talked about their research focuses, interdisciplinary research approaches to sustainability and their commitment to IKEM.

Prof. Dr. Susanne Stoll-Kleemann is Chair and Professor of Sustainability Science and Applied Geography at the University of Greifswald. She heads the Master’s program “Sustainability Geography” and her research focuses on climate-just behavior as well as socio-ecological transformations. She leads the “Sustainability” cluster at the Interdisciplinary Research Center Baltic Sea Region (IFZO) and other third-party funded projects on for example biodiversity-friendly agriculture in the Baltic Sea region.

Prof. Dr. Jelena Bäumler is Professor of Public Law and International Law with a focus on sustainability at Leuphana University Lüneburg. Her research focuses on international law, environmental and climate law as well as international commercial law. In addition to that, Prof. Dr. Bäumler is Director of the Europa-Kolleg in Hamburg and heads the Erasmus Mundus course International Law of Global Security, Peace and Development. She also regularly advises states before international courts.

What approaches do you use to sensitize your students to the challenges and opportunities in the area of sustainability?

Prof. Dr. Stoll-Kleemann: In our Master’s course, we rely heavily on practice-oriented approaches. Excursions, during which we visit specific locations and examine the sustainability problems and potential there, are a central component of the program. For example, we look at Berlin’s urban ecology, which, despite its high biodiversity, is also confronted with problems such as increasing sealing and the consequences of climate change. We also visit innovative museums such as the Futurium to get ideas for further study content. Presentations by practitioners and experts complement our program to make the implementation of sustainability goals tangible in practice.

Prof. Dr. Bäumler: At the Faculty of Sustainability at Leuphana University, the study programs are already interdisciplinary and through team teaching, students benefit from the perspective of teachers from different disciplines. But we can also broaden our perspective in law courses. In the Leuphana Law Lab, we take an experimental look at the law and think about its further development against the backdrop of sustainability and challenges such as climate change or biodiversity loss. In an innovative course on international sustainability law, I teach the basics of human rights, environmental law and international economic law as well as the integration of these areas of law in international law. Through this comprehensive approach, I want to give students a deep and broad understanding of sustainability.

In your opinion, what role does interdisciplinary cooperation have for the future of sustainability research and practice?

Prof. Dr. Stoll-Kleemann: Interdisciplinary cooperation is essential for the future of sustainability research and practice. Only by bringing together different disciplines can we develop innovative solutions that meet the complex challenges of our time.

Prof. Dr. Bäumler: Absolutely, interdisciplinary cooperation allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the interactions between ecological, social and economic systems. This is crucial to achieve sustainable development goals and shape a more just future for all.

Prof. Dr. Stoll-Kleemann, what role do you think individual behavior plays in the socio-ecological transformation?

Prof. Dr. Stoll-Kleemann: There is a very strong connection. Due to the failure of politics in climate policy and in steering a socio-economic transformation in general, pragmatically speaking, we have little choice but to rely on individual behavior as a vehicle for transformation. There are many synergy effects, such as signaling effects for politics, which emanate from individual behavior, e.g. the constantly decreasing consumption of meat and dairy products and the support for the introduction of a speed limit by large portions of the population.

Prof. Dr. Bäumler, you are not only committed to climate protection, but also to social participation and equality. To what extent do these social aspects play a role in your current research?

The regulation of value chains and sustainability in international commercial law have a very strong social aspect in addition to the environmental and climate aspects. Participation and equal rights play a central role at both national and international level. These social aspects are an integral part of my research and my commitment to ensuring that sustainable development is not only environmentally but also socially just.

What priorities do you want to set as members of the Research Directorate at IKEM?

Prof. Dr. Stoll-Kleemann: For me, the focus is on interdisciplinary collaboration. I would like to further strengthen this. My aim is to promote innovative research projects that develop effective and sustainable solutions to the pressing problems of climate protection, energy and mobility. I will pay particular attention to the integration of behavioral research and policy frameworks in order to develop practical recommendations for policy makers.

Prof. Dr. Bäumler: I would like to raise awareness surrounding the connections. The areas and possible implications are so closely interlinked that measures and approaches must always consider many aspects simultaneously. As Scientific Director at IKEM, I will therefore promote interdisciplinary research and collaboration in order to develop holistic and sustainable solutions to the challenges of climate protection, energy and mobility.


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Dennis Nill

Dennis Nill
+49 (0)30 / 408 1870 17

IKEM – Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility e.V.