Social-Ecological Systems Institute (SESI)

Our Vision

We envision a fair world where the benefits generated within social-ecological systems are shared sustainably with other species, both within and across generations. Solutions to sustainability challenges are developed collaboratively across diverse scientific disciplines, knowledge systems, and social interests.

    Our Mission

    To realise our vision, we recognise the need for transformative change. In pursuit of such change we:

    • Use place-based social-ecological systems thinking to understand and resolve sustainability challenges such as biodiversity loss and environmental injustice;
    • Bring together insights and approaches from the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities in genuinely collaborative endeavours;
    • Integrate experiences, practices, and understandings from diverse knowledge systems;
    • Embed tools for transformative change into the social-ecological systems thinking via a leverage points perspective;
    • Develop and apply methods to bridge multiple scales and governance levels; and
    • Provide spaces for people sharing our vision to meet and exchange ideas.


    On our blog we regularly post news, report on new publications, conference contributions and much more!

    Professorships and working groups

    Professorship Sustainable Landscapes
    Prof. Dr. Jörn Fischer

    Professorship International Sustainable Development and Planning
    Prof. Dr. Berta Martín-López

    Junior Research Group
    Dr. Jan Hanspach


    The following topics exemplify the research areas of the institute. We primarily conduct integrative and transdisciplinary research.

    • Agroecology & Agrobiodiversity
    • Biocultural Diversity
    • Biodiversity Conservation
    • Diverse Knowledge Systems
    • Ecosystem Services
    • Food Sovereignty
    • Human-Nature Relations
    • Landscape Ecology
    • Leverage Points for Sustainability
    • Relational Values
    • Wildlife Ecology


    The institute is particularly responsible for the following modules at the Bachelor, Master and Doctoral level:


    Major Environmental Sciences
    Major Global Environmental and Sustainability Studies
    Minor Spatial Sciences
    Minor Sustainability Sciences


    Sustainability Science
    Global Sustainability Science

    Doctoral studies

    After completion of the Master's program, it is possible to pursue the doctoral degrees Dr. rer. nat., Dr. rer. pol. and Dr. phil. in the doctoral research group Sustainability Sciences