Hixon Center Director, Tanja Srebotnjak, visits Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany, October 14, 2016

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) is something of a hidden gem in the large Berlin-Potsdam climate and sustainability science and policy research ecosystem (including the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Helmholtz Centre for Geosciences, the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, several climate and energy focused research centers at the Technical and Free Universities and the German Energy Transition think tank Agora Energiewende).

Founded in 2008 as an outgrowth of the Potsdam Nobel Laureates Symposium “Global Sustainability – A Nobel Cause” convened by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Institute employs approximately 100 scientists, roughly half from countries other than Germany, in areas such as atmospheric chemistry, energy systems, economics, law, political science and governance. Thematically, IASS conducts cutting-edge research to develop transformative scientific, policy and legal approaches to solving some of the most persistent sustainability challenges. It is quietly establishing itself as a provider of rigorous and innovative scientific research with a strong focus on policy translation and impact. Its impressive home in a classicist building in immediate proximity to a new science, innovation and culture park and the river Havel only adds to its appeal.

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany. Photo credits: Ecologic Institute (http://ecologic.eu/de/12105)

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany. Photo credits: Ecologic Institute (http://ecologic.eu/de/12105)

Hixon Center director, Tanja Srebotnjak, was recently invited to tour the Institute and present to the Air Quality in the Context of Climate Change group (AQGC) led by Australian Dr. Tim Butler. The group focuses on the numerical modeling of air pollution, including the chemistry of tropospheric ozone and emissions of its precursors and aerosols, especially black carbon. With robust funding from the German Government, the State of Brandenburg and the research organizations of the German Science Alliance, AQGC’s dozen or so scientists are engaged in several multi-year projects:

  • SusKat, with a focus on the identification of key sources of air pollution in the Kathmandu valley, and the design and implementation of mitigation solutions;
  • ClimPol, with a focus on the connections between air quality and climate change and European policy, particularly at the level of cities;
  • ELIAS, with a focus on connections between air quality, climate change, and sustainability from a law and governance perspective, particularly at the international and national level;
  • SMART, which aims to identify the causes, implications, and likely scenarios of Arctic resource development jointly with stakeholders to develop policy options, specifically to find sustainable transformation pathways for human-nature interactions in the Arctic.
Science, Innovation and Culture Park next to the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany. Photo credits: http://www.potsdam-wiki.de/index.php/Potsdam

Science, Innovation and Culture Park next to the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany. Photo credits: http://www.potsdam-wiki.de/index.php/Potsdam

Following a detailed exchange during presentations and lunch both, IASS and the Hixon Center, expressed their interest in exploring ways to collaborate on climate change and air quality research and, as a first step, are considering a reciprocal visit by AQGC group members to Harvey Mudd College in the spring of 2017. So stay tuned for updates.