At IRI THESys, the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems, scientists from humanities, social and natural sciences collaborate to solve interdisciplinary research questions related to the societal challenges of transforming human-environment systems. The institute provides a platform for cooperation between scientists from various disciplines and departments of Humboldt-Universität and regional, national and international partner institutions.

Global societies will face critical transformations to sustain in the future 9 billion people on Earth, specifically regarding infrastructure and energy systems. Continuing the unsustainable pathways taken during the 20th century is no viable option. Impacts of global climate and land use change and the dramatic loss in biodiversity will stipulate far-reaching mitigation and adaptation strategies. Designing such strategies creatively and developing novel implementation pathways is therefore of prime importance. Moreover, scientists face the challenge to embed their findings from Earth system sciences, social sciences and humanities in the global discourse on prosperity, global justice and sustainability.

At Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), scientists from humanities, social and natural sciences collaborate in the IRI THESys to solve interdisciplinary research questions related to these societal challenges. The IRI THESys combines quantitative and qualitative, empirical and normative research to better understand complex human-environment systems and societal opportunities and limitations of sustainable futures. One major focus of the IRI THESys is on promoting young scientists. The IRI THESys is part of a global network of leading research institutions in transformation science and is HU’s contribution to the international research effort in Future Earth.

THESys‘ themes develop threefold:

  1. Respecting planetary boundaries: Transformation of societal processes
  2. Science in society: Contesting Global Change
  3. Spatial structures in the Anthropocene: Patterns of Change

Research in the IRI THESys focuses on land and resource use, urbanization in the 21st century, climate change impacts and intra-/intergenerational environmental justice.

Additional Information


Prof. Dr. Patrick Hostert