Graduate School on land use scores well in competition for excellence

03/03/2011 - In the competition for excellence of the German Research Foundation the graduate school 'FutureLand' qualified for the finals. About 80 PhD students shall do research on issues such as climate change, agriculture, deforestation or loss of biodiversity. The project has been developed mainly by scientists from Berlin an Potsdam, led by the Humboldt Universität (HU). The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is one of the significant contributors, among other independent research institutes.
Graduate School on land use scores well in competition for excellence
Photo: Planthaber/

"Next to climate change, human land use is one of the most important drivers of fundamental global change," says Wolfgang Lucht, Research Domain Chair at PIK and professor at HU. "There is a great deal of interaction with climate change. The issue is one of the big challenges for earth system research in the next decade." This is why the graduate school is needed. Four of the ten modules are coordinated by members of PIK: beside the geoecologist and physicist Lucht these include cultural scientist and biologist Helga Weisz, the agricultural economist Hermann Lotze-Campen, and the physicist and hydrologist Dieter Gerten.

Just like at PIK, work in the graduate school FutureLand is intended to cross borders between disciplines - natural scientists are going to cooperate with social scientists and scholars from the humanities, coordinated by the Institute of Geography of HU. "We intend to train a new generation of scientists who work problem-oriented and will understand the future of earth's landscapes in all their dimensions."

Three out of four of the 227 projects participating in the excellence competition did not make it into the final round. The conclusive decision will be announced in June 2012. All in all, 2.7 billion Euros of public funding will be allocated.