Aims and Responsibilities
The concept of sustainability can only develop its full innovative capacity if society and sustainability are closely interlinked. One of the crucial questions in this context is how and under what conditions the necessary social adjustments and changes can be made and sustained on a long-term basis.
The guiding principle for sustainable development was first developed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, updated at subsequent conferences and reaffirmed in the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (2015).
The concept of sustainability has three main dimensions which are inextricably linked with each other and which have numerous interactions but also many conflicting interests. These three dimensions are:
- social sustainability
- economic sustainability
- ecological sustainability
The aim is to reconcile (global) economic progress with social justice and participation in the context of the ecological limitations of the Earth – today and for future generations – and to establish a balance between resource consumption and resource conservation. Resources, however, are understood not only as the natural resources of the ecosystem but also as the economic resources of societal prosperity, the social resources of welfare and solidarity, and the subjective resources of work performance and the conduct of private life (see Neckel 2018).
The goal – and at the same time the huge challenge – is to address the three dimensions of sustainability simultaneously and on equal terms and to balance them against each other. In a highly differentiated society, such a goal can only be achieved if the diversity of perspectives is sufficiently considered and the relevant institutions align their resources to this approach in a collaborative and communicative manner.
As an educational institution, Fulda University must therefore concentrate on the necessary negotiation processes and on developing discourse and intervention structures for the interaction of civil society and politics to establish the concept of sustainability in political and social practice.
The Centre focuses specifically on the social dimension of sustainability and thus on issues relating to the moral and ethical legitimacy of current and future resource usage and the protection of living conditions of individuals. This work is carried out in six core areas of research: education and social balance, social and economic security, generational and gender equity, community and regional development, protection of immaterial living conditions, and social participation.
The Centre's key task is to develop and consolidate competencies with regard to sustainable behaviour in society. It does this by
- amalgamating knowledge bases and procedures from different disciplines when working on projects at the interface between social and human scientific and technical knowledge bases
- organising trans- or interdisciplinary research applications for externally funded projects
- increasing knowledge transfer when combining scientific and practical activities by making offers of appropriate collaborations with practitioners and organising conferences
- assuming civic responsibility through scientific organisational and political consulting and project evaluations, especially on a regional scale
- using technical systems to secure or improve sustainable development processes with a social, ecological and economic orientation.