Target group:
Early-career researchers, Students
Event type:
Winter/Summer School
with costs
tdAcademy; ISST/Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC); ZTG/TU Berlin
Contact person:
Annabell Lamberth (

About the summer school

We live in a world in transformation in which we are faced with complex global problems such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, hunger and social inequality. The urgent need for a sustainable transformation forces us to take decisions in situations of uncertainty and to continuously adapt our societal strategies.

As professionals, as researchers, and ultimately as citizens we want to embrace this process of transformation. We need to be able to design, build, create, but also to listen, observe and understand to make sustainability changes happen. A disciplinary approach will not be enough to solve the complex problems we are faced with in the 21st century. Academia does not have all the answers, neither does politics, economy or civil society. We rather need a collaborative endeavour to be able to reach a truly sustainable society.

Transdisciplinary research and practice is an approach that allows to bring together different perspectives from science and society and to catalyse the solution of real-world problems. In the summer school we want to convey the basics of co-designing solutions, co-producing knowledge and co-evaluating the results of such research practices to Master and PhD students from technologically-oriented disciplines (e.g. engineering, planning, environmental studies) as well as from other fields (e.g. social sciences). To ensure the link to the ‘real-world’, we will apply what we learn to sustainability problems in the region of Northeast Brandenburg, Germany.

Aim of the course

The aim of the summer school is to gain insight into the basics and challenges of transdisciplinary research and practice, that is a reflexive, integrative, method driven scientific principle aiming at the solution or transition of societal problems and concurrently of related scientific problems by differentiating and integrating knowledge from various scientific and societal bodies of knowledge and transferable to both the scientific and societal practice (Lang et al. 2012).

Our programme includes:

  • facilitating mutual understanding of societal problems through better observing and pursuing the situations faced (inter- and transdisciplinary exchange)

  • empowering students with tools and methods for reflection and collaborative work in heterogeneous actor environments

  • empowering students to contribute to solving community problems with their specific perspectives and knowledge

  • reflecting on team building, actor constellations and power relations as well as possible impacts of solutions developed

Case study in focus: Northeast Brandenburg – a region in transition.

The districts of Barnim, Uckermark and Märkisch-Oderland are part of the historical landscape of the Barnim. This area, formed during the ice age, is dominated by hills, forests and lakes. To the east, the Odra River meanders along as the region’s border with Poland. Its adjacent area, the so-called Oderbruch, is dominated by fertile farmland since its drainage and cultivation of marshland in the 18th century. Since the German re-unification, the region has shown a decline in industrial and agricultural production, accompanied by a high rate of unemployment and population loss. Today, with around 100 inhabitants per square kilometre living here, residents from the nearby capital of Berlin and other tourists like to enjoy the quiet and diverse beauty of the region.

However, the region’s diverse landscape and its various forms of use go hand in hand with many challenges and questions for a sustainable future in rural areas that may not be visible at first sight. With regard to climate change conflicts arise, for example, between nature conservation and agriculture with regard to environmentally friendly options of agricultural production go along with fostering biodiversity and rewetting of marshlands. The use of the river is controversial with regard to its relevance as a nature reserve and as a route for commercial traffic. This illustrates that the region is characterized by contrasts: nature conservation and pioneers of organic farming on the one hand, windparks, biogas plants and intensive livestock farming on the other. Areas that are well connected to Berlin have shown growth while remote areas are suffering from a decline of infrastructure such as schools, shopping facilities and public transport. While some conflicts have arisen between old and new inhabitants, there is also a rise in initiatives that aim to develop new perspectives for rural regions.

During the summer school we will use conflicts regarding the transition of rural areas in the region exemplarily to train methods of formulating and analysing real world problems based on exchange with regional actors. 

Agenda of the course

Day 0 (09/16) Sat

(optional) Get-together in the evening in Berlin

Day 1 (09/17) Sun

Getting to know the region & meeting different stakeholders (excursion by bus, start in Eberswalde; 30 min from Berlin by train)

Day 2 (09/18) Mon

Disciplinarity and beyond | Introduction to Transdisciplinarity

Day 3 (09/19) Tue

Excursion to Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development |

Problem framing & Research questions

Day 4 (09/20) Wed

Transdisciplinary Methods | Participation & Knowledge integration 

Day 5 (09/21) Thu

Societal Impact of Transdisciplinary Research

Day 6 (10/22) Fri

Presentation of Results & Reflection (until noon)| (optional) Hike in the afternoon

Target Group

Master students in their last course and early PhD students from European Universities are invited to join the summer school.

We aim at a mixed selection of participants: We especially encourage students from engineering, planning and environmental studies to join the summer school, but we also aim for a good mixture with other disciplines (e.g. social sciences or humanities).

Students can be granted 2 ECTS (pass/fail) for participating in the summer school and preparatory tasks. They are responsible for dealing with credit recognition at their home university individually.

General Information

The summer school will take place from September 17th to 22nd 2023 in Bad Freienwalde, Brandenburg, Germany – app. 1 hour by regional train from Berlin city. We expect around 25 international participants. The course will be conducted in English.

The early-bird attendance fee is 325 Euro (due until June 10). The regular attendance fee is 375 Euro (due until June 30). For participants who are not travelling from Germany, a discount for a small number of participants may be available. In this case, please contact Annabell Lamberth and justify your request for a discount.
Accommodation and food at Die Malche will be provided. The participants have to cover the travelling costs to Berlin and from Bad Freienwalde on their own.

The summer school wants to act sustainability-conscious: Please consider taking the train or bus!

How to apply

To apply for the summer school please fill out the following form:

  • Short CV

  • Motivational video (1-2 minutes on what is your motivation to participate in the summer school? Do you already have experiences with inter- and transdisciplinarity? What do you expect from summer school? What is your envisioned topic for your PhD or master thesis?)

Deadline for the application: still remaining places available

Contact: Annabell Lamberth,

Organisers and teaching team

The summer school on transdisciplinarity is a joint project by the University Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology (ISST) at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the Center for Technology and Society (ZTG) at Technische Universität Berlin within the tdAcademy project. Both institutions are highly experienced in transdisciplinary sustainability research and methodological coaching. tdAcademy is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the FONA framework as part of its Social-Ecological Research funding priority.

The teaching team (so far) includes:

JosefaSummerSchool   Josefa Kny
is a researcher at the Center for Technology and Society at Technische Universität Berlin in the project tdAcademy. Her focus is on methods and societal effects of transdis-ciplinary research. She has a PhD from the Norbert Elias Center for Transformation Design and Research, European University of Flensburg. She also works for the foundation FUTURZWEI, which tells stories about social-ecological change projects, and founded the “Club of Good Future”, an exchange forum for transformation professionals. Josefa studied Future Studies (MA) and Political Science (BA) in Berlin and Stockholm. (More about Josefa)

MartinaSummerSchool   Martina Schäfer
is a biologist (University Stuttgart-Hohenheim), Dr. in Environmental Technology and Dr. in Sociology (TU Berlin). Since 2010, she is the Scientific Director of the Center for Technology and Society (ZTG) of TU Berlin. Since 1996, she has coordinated in the ZTG inter- and transdisciplinary research projects, in Sustainable Regional Development, Sustain-able Consumption, Sustainable Land Use and methods of inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation. (More about Martina

JordiSummerSchool   Jordi Segalàs  
is the Director of the Research Institute of Sustainability Science and Technology at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya UPC-Barcelona Tech (ISST-UPC). He is the head of the Research Group on Sustainability Education and Technology in Higher Education, and the chair of the Sustainability working group of the European Society for Engineering Education. He has been working in curriculum greening policies and action plans since 2000.  (More about Jordi)

GemmaSummerSchool   Gemma Tejedor 
is a researcher at the ISST-UPC in projects on education for sustainability in higher engineering education (EE). She holds a PhD in Sustainability from the UPC focused on transdisciplinary learning for sustainability within higher EE. She teaches sustainability at the Barcelona East School of Engineering. EEBE-UPC and transdisciplinarity at the Master in Science and Technology of Sustainability (MSTS) coordinated from ISST, at UPC. Gemma studied Agricultural and Forestry Engineering and worked as a forestry engineer for about 17 years, both in the public and private sector and in cooperation projects in Latin America. (More about Gemma