New at Leuphana: Prof Dr Daniel Fischer - Sustainability as a Basic Need

2024-02-02 Daniel Fischer has been appointed Professor of Sustainability Education and Communication. He favours a competition of ideas rather than discussions about bans. In his research and teaching, Daniel Fischer investigates how more sustainable ways of living and consuming can be promoted through communication and learning.

Daniel Fischer ©Leuphana/Teresa Halbreiter
He encourages people to question and reshape the consumer societies into which they were born and socialised: Prof Dr Daniel Fischer.

We are no longer allowed to fly. The canteen has banned currywurst. And the new winter coat has been cancelled. "The discussion about sustainability still often revolves around doing without," says Daniel Fischer. But the term is actually aimed at the opposite: "It's about satisfying as many human needs as possible, today and in the future," says the researcher. Instead of ideological turf battles and debates on bans, he would like to see a competition of ideas on how needs can be satisfied in a better quality and more sustainable way.In his research and teaching, Daniel Fischer investigates how more sustainable ways of living and consuming can be promoted through communication and learning. "In science lessons, we build a bridge between real-life experiences and natural and social science thinking. The interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach that we strive for in education for sustainable development is already in place here," says Daniel Fischer.One particular concern is the internationalisation of teacher training: "This semester, I offered the first seminar on Global Citizenship Education and brought guests from all over the world to the seminar. We live in a globalised and highly interconnected world: this can no longer be understood with a nationally shaped horizon. We need to be aware of intercultural contexts," explains Daniel Fischer. In five years at renowned universities in the USA and the Netherlands, he was able to experience for himself how differently people think about sustainability in other places.In his research, Daniel Fischer uses interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to explain how consumption patterns develop and change over time and in different cultural contexts and what role communication processes play here. In recent research projects, he has investigated how innovative practices such as mindfulness, storytelling and citizen science disrupt consumption routines and trigger a reflective thought process. "My work aims to empower people in an educational tradition to question and reshape their relationships with the consumer societies into which they were born and socialised," explains Daniel Fischer.Since autumn 2023, the researcher has represented the UNESCO Chair "Higher Education for Sustainable Development", which Leuphana has held since 2005 with the first Chairholder Prof. Dr Gerd Michelsen. UNESCO Chairs are awarded for outstanding research and teaching in UNESCO's fields of work: "I see the Chair as a mediator in two directions: On the one hand, we want to bring the work and goals of UNESCO into the university, which incidentally are very much in line with the goals of our university. On the other hand, we can make internationally visible and share what exciting things are happening at Leuphana in the field of sustainability, thereby helping to ensure that universities around the world will start to move, too." Leuphana also coordinates the UNESCO-UNITWIN network Education for Sustainable Development and Social Transformation. Six renowned universities from Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Greece, and South Africa work together in this network. The global network, which includes other universities and UN-related institutions as well as internationally active associations, aims to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Daniel Fischer studied primary school teaching at the University of Osnabrück and completed the master's programme "Educational Management and School Development" there and in Vienna. The educational researcher earned his doctorate at Leuphana on the question of how educational institutions can become places where sustainable consumption is learnt and actively shaped. He received the Leuphana Teaching Award in 2010 and 2012. In 2018, he was appointed Assistant Professor for Sustainability Education at Arizona State University with the first School of Sustainability in the USA. In 2020, he moved to Wageningen University in the Netherlands as Associate Professor. In 2023, he was appointed Professor of Education for Sustainable Development and Communication at Leuphana University Lüneburg.


  • Prof. Dr. Daniel Fischer