Social Research Workshop @PIK



A solid evidence base on the social science of climate change is essential for navigating the scale and complexity of the climate change. While climate change requires the input of many disciplines, the drivers of and the solutions to climate change are fundamentally social, economic and political.


Through our Social Research initiative, we want to shine a spotlight on the contributions of social science to the field of climate impact research, while also identifying synergies and entry points for enhanced cooperation with the natural sciences within our own research community here at PIK and beyond.


To help us accomplish that, we will invite renowned guest speakers from outside institutions three to four times a year, with discussants from PIK and/or MCC. Hence, we invite not only social scientists but indeed everyone who wants to engage with our guest speakers on major, unresolved research questions and climate solutions. Some snacks, an assortment of juices as well as a bit of wine shall contribute to a pleasant and more informal atmosphere of the event.

An Afternoon with Prof. Arild Vatn

Our first speaker will be Arild Vatn. He is a professor at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). His main expertise is in institutional and ecological economics. His specific fields of experience are environmental governance and policy processes, environmental valuation and policy evaluations in forestry and agriculture. Prof. Vatn has been president and vice president of the European Society of Ecological Economics. He has organized a large number of international PhD summer schools. Arild was awarded the NMBU research prize in 2002 and the joint EAEPE and AFEE Veblen 150 prize in 2007 for his book ‘Institutions and the Environment’. He was also awarded the Kenneth Boulding Award by ISEE in 2016 for his engagement in synthesizing ecological and institutional economics. He is presently a coordinating lead author of the IPBES value assessment. His last book is titled ‘Environmental Governance - Institutions, Policies and Actions (2015). Aril will be speaking to us on the broader subject of human dependence on ecosystem services.

The fit in PIK's agenda: Human socio-economic systems strongly depend on the extraction and flows of natural resources, ecosystem services, and energy. Global environmental changes including climate change are already changing the human-environmental system interaction patterns and these changes will intensify in the future. The purpose of the seminars within this topical area would be to understand how the human interactions with nature are conceptualized in social science and what kind of political, market, and social mechanisms and interventions can be used to control these interactions and ensure a long-term sustainability and resilience. A special attention will be given to agricultural policies including the common agricultural policy. 

We have invited two discussants to reflect on Prof. Vatn's talk: our own Dr. Kirsten Thonicke as well as MCC´s Sebastian Kraus. Kirsten is Deputy Co-Chair Research Domain I Earth System Analysis and works among other topics on ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services & biodiversity. Sebastian is a PhD student within MCC´s working group on sustainable resource management and global change.

Date: March 4th, 2020 -  DUE TO CORONA VIRUS RELATED TRAVEL RESTRICTION THE EVENT IS POSTPONED. A new workshop date will be announced as soon as the travel restrictions are released.

Kindest regards,

The organizing group 

Mechthild Becker

Ilona M. Otto

Detlef Sprinz

Stefanie Wesch

Contact: social.research(at)