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A guest at Leuphana: Sustainability Scientist Prof. Dr. Armin Wiek

09/15/2016 15-09-2016. Leuphana University of Lüneburg has been cooperating with Arizona State University (ASU) in the USA Since 2012. ASU’s Prof. Dr. Arnim Wiek is currently doing research at Leuphana as a guest professor for solution-oriented sustainability science. Prof. Wiek's research focus is on scientifically supported solutions for sustainability problems and sustainability education.


Prof. Wiek emphasises that “For [his] work, it is important not only to analyse problems, but to develop scientifically sound solutions”. “Our culture is mainly focused on problems – just imagine an average TV broadcast or daily newspaper. Ninety percent of news refers to problems. Through my research, I would like to draw the attention away from the problems towards possible solutions”.

Prof. Wiek has developed theoretical solutions for problems in the areas of water supply, climate protection and public health. For example, his research group took part in the participatory design of several hospitals for disadvantaged families and minorities in Phoenix. “The specific issue, however, is not so important for our research group. We are always working as a team and closely together with other experts on approaches to solutions” explains the transdisciplinary scientist.

Prof. Wiek also advocates teaching sustainable education as part of students’ training. “Together with Prof. Matthias Barth, Prof. Daniel Lang and other Leuphana researchers, we have developed the ‚Educating Future Change Agents’ project. We aim at conducting inquiry into the best way to qualify students to develop sustainable solutions in a structured way” explains Prof. Wiek. For a scientist, innovative teaching and a strong practice reference from the first semester is of particular importance. “I stand for teaching in real-world contexts, so that the transfer from theory to practice takes place in the course of studies”.


The cooperation between Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Arizona State University has existed for years and is constantly evolving. This is partly due to the long-term collaboration between Prof. Lang and Prof. Wiek, who completed their doctoral studies together at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Next to the foundation of the Centre for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation (CGSC), the joint Master’s Programme in “Global Sustainability Science” has begun in the last winter semester. “Leuphana and ASU are very similar in their focus on problem-solving in the real world and on international exchange” is how Prof. Wiek explains the successful cooperation. Even if they are different in size (Arizona State University is the largest public university in the United States) and cultural background, in the basic principles both universities are in line with one another.

One essential feature of this is the fact that sustainability and interdisciplinary research are centrally anchored at both universities. “I feel very comfortable at Leuphana” emphasises Prof. Wiek. The guest professor appreciates not only the short distances on the campus and the academic hospitality, but above all, the orientation of Leuphana on our society’s future viability. “Germany's Leuphana is unique in its concept and a top address in international comparison. Over the years, a very close relationship has developed between Leuphana and ASU”.

Arnim Wiek first studied philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin and environmental sciences in Jena. He submitted his Higher Education Diploma thesis at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, then completed his doctorate in Decision Sciences in 2005. Subsequently, he moved to Vancouver, where he studied at the University of British Columbia for a research project on the practice of sustainability science.

Prof. Wiek has been working at Arizona State University's School of Sustainability since 2008 and heads a research group working on evidence-based sustainability solutions and sustainability education. The cooperation with Leuphana has been in place since 2012, which is why Wiek regularly visits Leuphana for joint research project.


Prof. Dr. Arnim Wiek
Universitätsallee 1, C11.213
21335 Lüneburg

Author: Vivien Thais Valentiner (University Communication). News of the University can be send to