Press Release No. 3 | March 16, 2022

DFG Sustainability Commission Meets for the First Time

20 members from all fields of science and the humanities under the leadership of President Katja Becker

20 members from all fields of science and the humanities under the leadership of President Katja Becker

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is seeking to give due consideration to aspects of sustainability in its actions. To this end, the DFG Executive Committee decided in December 2021 to establish a Commission chaired by DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker. Comprising 20 members representing the diverse range of subjects in the research system, the Commission has now convened for its first meeting. It is to submit recommendations for sustainable action to the DFG bodies in summer 2023.

“Research work in all academic disciplines makes essential contributions to our understanding and safeguarding of sustainability,” said DFG President Katja Becker. “Sustainable life is only possible based on a functional understanding of environmental systems, climate research, technical innovations and the relevant economic structures: it also depends on lasting social cohesion, which is strengthened by a knowledge of social processes and sociology. As a funding organisation, the DFG is a guarantor of excellent research projects in all of the above-mentioned areas, the results of which in turn contribute to sustainability. However, the DFG also has a responsibility to anchor the idea of sustainability in research activities themselves, as well as in its own actions. For this reason, the Commission that has now been established is to discuss how aspects of sustainability can be taken into account appropriately, across all subject boundaries and in consideration of academic freedom.”

At its first meeting, the Commission initially focused on its work programme: in the awareness that sustainability is broadly defined and involves social, economic and ecological aspects, the Commission will – not least out of constitutional considerations – initially concentrate on ecological sustainability, though also taking into account how this is mutually dependent on social and economic aspects.

In terms of content guidelines, the members also discussed at which levels and in which modes the DFG might address the topic in its activities and what roles and responsibilities should be considered in the research system: the aim is not for the Commission to refer to the findings of DFG-funded projects relating to sustainability or sustainability research. Rather, the aim is to create an awareness that research projects in all disciplines should be carried out as sustainably as possible – though without diminishing or influencing research quality and content.

The discussion process will include the perspectives and experience of the DFG Senate Commissions on Earth System Research, on Fundamental Issues of Biological Diversity and on Animal Protection and Experimentation, as well as input provided by the German Committee Future Earth (DKN).

Chaired by DFG President Katja Becker, the Commission will consist of the following members over the next one and a half years:

  • Professor Dr. Axel Brakhage, holder of the Chair of Microbiology and Molecular Biology and Head of the Department of Molecular and Applied Microbiology at the University of Jena and Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology
    (Leibniz – Hans Knöll Institute); Vice-President of the DFG
  • Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans Hasse, holder of the Chair of Thermodynamics at the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern; Vice President of the DFG
  • Professor Dr. Karin Jacobs, Head of the Working Group on Soft Matter Physics – Professor of Experimental Physics at Saarland University; Vice President of the DFG
  • Professor Dr. Kerstin Schill, Rector of Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study) in Delmenhorst and Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroinformatics at the University of Bremen; Vice President of the DFG
  • Professor Dr.-Ing. Christos Aneziris, holder of the Chair of Ceramics, Refractories and Composites at Freiberg University of Mining and Technology
  • Professor Dr. Astrid Eichhorn, spokesperson of the Sustainability Working Group of the Junge Akademie and Professor at the Centre for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology (CP3-Origins) at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  • Professor Dr. Anita Engels, Professor of Sociology, in particular Globalisation, Environment and Society at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg
  • Professor Dr. Markus Fischer, Professor of Plant Ecology at the Institute of Plant Sciences, Plant Ecology, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Professor Dr. Klaus Ferdinand Gärditz, holder of the Chair of Public Law at the University of Bonn
  • Professor Dr. Armin Grunwald, Head of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) and Professor of Philosophy of Technology at the Institute of Philosophy of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; Head of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB)
  • Professor Dr. Daniela Jacob, Director of the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon
  • Professor Dr. Tina Kasper, Professor for Mass Spectrometry in Reactive Flow Processes at the Institute for Combustion and Gas Dynamics at the University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Professor Dr. Sebastian Lehnhoff, Professor in the Department of Energy Informatics, Department of Computer Science at Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
  • Professor Dr. Christoph Möllers, holder of the Chair of Public Law and Philosophy of Law at Humboldt University of Berlin and Permanent Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study) in Berlin
  • Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Stefan Schaltegger, Chair of Sustainability Management at the Centre for Sustainability Management (CSM) of Leuphana University Lüneburg
  • Professor Dr. Michael Schulz, Professor of Geosystem Modelling, Director of Marum – Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen
  • Professor Dr. Elke Seefried, holder of the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History (19th-21st century) with its cultures of knowledge and technology at RWTH Aachen University.
  • Professor Dr. Silja Vöneky, (Co-)Director of the Institute for Public Law, Professor of International Law, Legal Ethics and Comparative Law and Associate Member of the Institute for Political Science and Philosophy of Law at the University of Freiburg
  • Professor Dr. Andreas Weber, Head of the Institute of Plant Biochemistry at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Permanent guest

  • Professor Dr. Marietta Auer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory in Frankfurt/Main and Professor of Private Law and International and Interdisciplinary Foundations of Law at the University of Giessen

Further Information

Media contact:

  • DFG Press and Public Relations
    Tel. +49 228 885-2109

Programme contact at the DFG Head Office:

  • Dr. Sonja Ochsenfeld-Repp
    Equal Opportunities
    Research Integrity and Cross-Programme Development
    Tel. +49 228 885-2027