ECS | Profile
The European Center for Sustainability Research | ECS. Setting a new interpretative and interdisciplinary research agenda that points to an understanding of sustainability as an ongoing, constantly evolving problem situation, the ECS and its team stand for a new research approach, with a strong focus on social sciences. As a research institute and as a competence center for sustainability issues at the Zeppelin University it was formally established in 2011.
The institute is affiliated with the Chair for Socio-Economics and Entrepreneurial responsibility at the Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany, a state-recognized private institution of higher education, bridging business, culture and politics. It’s focus lies in research on innovative new hypotheses for potential issues (Grassroots) and on generating fresh solutions to persistent social issues (Evergreens). Zeppelin University defines itself as a multi-disciplinary research institution exploring issues relevant to society.
Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance is a key location in a three nation triangle consisting of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, one of the most geographically striking, competitive and dynamic regions in Europe. Building upon its regional heritage, Zeppelin University specifically seeks active partnership with global universities and institutions with the goal of research cooperation and to welcome international students into the university community.
The ECS works on a transdisciplinary basis, combining economics, social and cultural theory, political and management science, applied on corporate management, citizenship and urban studies, public governance and the public use of scientific knowledge, focussing on social change in all these issues. Special emphasis is given to the role and the building of capabilities (institutional, managerial, personal) for the “great transformation” of the economy towards a sustainable steady state, e.g. in the field of energy. Studying innovative forms of political participation in ‘societal laboratories’, the center elaborates good practices, models of social learning, and develops tools for the evaluation of progress in the different dimensions of sustainability.
Sustainability | Our Understanding
Our conception of sustainability corresponds to the report "Our Common Future" of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED 1987) - better known as the Brundtland Report. But reflecting the discourse in the last decades, we understand sustainability in a broader sense. This includes a more comprehensive understanding of economy as a generation of common benefits through cooperation, and the ecology of immaterial resources (human, social, cultural capital) within natural limitations.
Sustainability as an interpretive framework of modernity and as a guiding principle for future changes in human society is therefore more and more widely recognized and accepted across the globe. This also means that sustainability in the coming years and decades will emerge as one the "core businesses" of transnational organizations, nations, companies, capital markets, everyday life, technological innovation and of course politics and policies.
This forward-looking vision of sustainability must therefore serve as the foundation of a new interpretative and interdisciplinary research approach. We are working toward the developing of such an approach in the European Center for Sustainability Research.
ECS | Funding
The European Center for Sustainability Research is sponsored by the Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG, a specialist for engines and onsite energy systems. In addition the AUDI AG sponsors the Chair for Socio-Economics and Responsibility and Sustainability. For specific research questions and the expansion of its research activities the ECS augments its funding by the participation in national and international research programs (ministries, EU, public and private foundations).