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Pathways to Sustainability

The necessary transformation towards sustainability is fraught with a number of great technological, political, and societal challenges. The researchers in the key research area ‘Pathways to Sustainability’ are working on knowledge-based solutions to these challenges and are illuminating the contextual conditions for their implementation.

Three Research Fields:

The New Materials and Substances research field is shaped fundamentally by the work of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Living, Adaptive and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems’ (livMatS): Here, scientists are developing energy-autonomous materials systems with lifelike functions that are inspired by nature and capable of adapting to changing environments. Another important element of this area is research into functional and process optimization through, among other things, new nanomaterials and polymers as well as fundamental studies at the molecular level.

In the Intelligent Technologies research field, scientists are using artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent sensor technology to devise sustainable technical solutions. They aim to develop sustainable energy systems, for example in the production and use of green hydrogen and innovative battery systems, and promote environmentally friendly production processes of the circular economy. Through close cooperation with non-university research institutions on the one hand, particularly Freiburg’s five Fraunhofer institutes, and technology companies on the other, this research field covers the entire spectrum from basic research to industrial applications.

The research field Ecological and Socio-ecological Systems of the Future focuses on the protection of environmental foundations of life and the sustainable use of natural resources. The key question for the scientists is what future ecosystems will look like in the context of global change and how to ensure that ecosystem services can be provided and biological diversity preserved through adaptive management. One of the University of Freiburg’s unique selling points in this regard is that close cooperation between the humanities, social and natural sciences, engineering, and medicine enables research into complex human-environment systems in all their breadth and diversity.

At the same time, various humanities disciplines are testing new avenues of cooperation with the natural and environmental sciences within the framework of the ‘Environmental Humanities’ network, thus forging a link to the key research area ‘Cultures and Societies in Space and Time’.

Current project within the framework of the Excellence Strategy: