Environmental Sustainability: A Bhutanese Expression

Haa Valley, Bhutan: A farmer walks down a rural pathway carrying a load of rice stalks. He wears a gho, the traditional men's garment. © istock/leezsnow

As a child, I lived near the forests and walked everywhere on foot because we did not have motorable roads, nor could my parents afford to buy a family car. If I were to narrate this story to sociologists or media reporters, then I would feel that I was exposing my limited wealth compared with...
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Poking holes in our mindsets: impressions from the Potsdam Summer School 2017

As an unprecedented weather event unfolded last week across the Atlantic Ocean, affecting Gulf Coast states and major cities in the United States as well as island communities throughout the Caribbean, over 40 young professionals and graduate students from over 30 countries gathered at the IASS to discuss “Human Environments in a Changing World” –...
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What does it take to forge a partnership with Africa?

Initiating a new partnership with Africa was a key priority of the German G20 Presidency and one of the topics on the agenda at the G20 Summit in Hamburg last weekend. In their Leaders’ Declaration, the heads of the 19 major industrialized and emerging market economies and the EU underscored their commitment to “foster sustainable...
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Climate engineering: Recasting expertise?

Narrating the future makes it manageable. The stories we tell about emerging sciences and new technologies lay the groundwork for how we govern them. However, these stories—the casts involved, the roles assigned—change over time, and through them, our understanding of what matters for governance. The debate around climate engineering—the idea that it may be possible...
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A Marshall Plan with Africa: Placing Digitalisation in the Service of Sustainable Development

“We need a new pact on the future between Europe and Africa” – this is the central message of the Cornerstones for a Marshall Plan with Africa, a discussion paper published by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on 18 January 2017. The subject of digitalisation looms large in the paper, most...
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Talk, Trust, and Time: Bridging the Gap between Science and Policy

Just two months ago I strolled up to the bank building of the IASS itching to start gaining practical research experience, but with no idea of what to expect. Coming from a background of environmental science and being enrolled in a Master’s program aimed at bridging the gap between science and policy, I was prepared...
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COP22 and Beyond – Achieving the Paris Agreement

In order to meet growing concerns about climate change and the challenges presented by mitigation and adaption, delegations from around the world met last year in Paris to negotiate a new and binding international agreement to limit climate change. The first major steps towards implementation of the Paris Agreement were discussed during the 22nd UNFCCC...
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Cycle or Walk to IASS Challenge

The Himalaya team – Heiko Thomas, Pankaj Sadavarte, Zoe Lüthi, Khadak Mahata (+ David Dietrich, not in the picture) – during the awards. © Soline Bonnel

Happy and motivated people, a sunny day, delicious homemade pastries, a short opening speech, and there we were—ready to launch our first Cycle or Walk to IASS Challenge on this morning of 27 June 2016! Our goal? To cover the greatest distance by bike and foot during our daily commuting over the next two weeks....
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“An enriching session”: Potsdam Summer School Participants and Local Students Discuss Climate Change

“Be unique, make a change” was one of the take-home messages from Potsdam secondary school students, who, together with young professionals attending the Potsdam Summer School, worked on the interpretation of a metaphor story about a giant frog originating from the culture of Australian Aborigines. Storytelling, lively discussions, and great views of Potsdam at sunset...
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Finding the Piece That’s Been Missing in Climate Science Education

A guest scholar at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, Drew Bush is completing a doctoral dissertation in the Department of Geography and School of Environment at McGill University in Montreal. His research examines how inquiry-based teaching using a climate model developed by...
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