Research Program

For the first time in history, human activity is the major driver of global change. A fundamental transformation is necessary to meet the challenges of biodiversity conservation, food security, energy demand, public health, social cohesion, climate change, clean water, and fair consumption. Sustainability research helps to understand the dynamics of such transformation and to identify ways to foster the transformation towards sustainability.

Project Goals

The Robert Bosch research group “Processes of Sustainability Transformation” aligns with the research agenda of the Faculty of Sustainability at Leuphana University of Lüneburg that focuses on sustainability and transdisciplinarity, as well as integrates social sciences, humanities and natural sciences approaches. The research group will benefit from being linked to existing research projects.

The aims for the research group are:
  • to produce robust empirical insights on transformation processes towards sustainability
  • to advance conceptual, theoretical, and methodological approaches to sustainability transformations
  • to offer a study programmes tailored to the interest of the individual PhD student

Research Approach

With 12 PhD studies from different perspectives the Robert Bosch research group “Processes of Sustainability Transformation” casts a comprehensive view on transformation processes towards sustainability. The project offers the selected PhD students opportunities to conduct research on drivers, barriers, and leverage approaches towards the sustainability transformation: How does the sustainability transformation take place in different places and across time scales? What can we learn from successful transformation processes? What from failed ones? What are robust ways to foster the transformation towards sustainability?

These questions are addressed on three different levels: (i) disciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives yield complementary and comprehensive insights; (ii) topical foci on food and textiles yield comparative insights on two areas that have major sustainability implications in production and consumption; (iii) spatial foci on local and global processes yield insights across different scales both highly relevant to sustainability.

Coordinating and integrating such research across all PhD studies requires paying special attention to research methodology, which will be done through regular coordination and synthesis efforts involving the entire team as well as with additional research on how to best support integration and synthesis of perspectives, disciplines and approaches.

Key Features

The innovative features of the research group “Processes of Sustainability Transformation” include:
  • The PhD study program offer the option to complete an internship (up to 12 months) in a national research institution or an international partner university during the scholarship. Each host institution supports conceptual, theoretical, and empirical sustainability studies and the development of intercultural and transdisciplinary competencies of the participants. Such internships offer an additional opportunity for students to build their careers as sustainability change agents.
  • Two guest professorships per year will establish a broader “Community of Practice” with in-depth expertise in transformation research. By leveraging the expertise of national and international scholars, specific knowledge on food and textiles, for example, is made available to the group and follow-up collaborations get prepared.


The Robert Bosch research group “Processes of Sustainability Transformation” offers an attractive environment to address an important domain of research in sustainability science. It enables high-impact contributions to the academic discourse that will enhance inter- and transdisciplinary dialogues and influence disciplinary perspectives. We aspire to graduating a group of young, highly-competent transformation researchers who will pursue careers as change agents in a variety of branches and societal domains.