Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) - formerly IASS
Global challenges such as climate stability, energy security, and resource efficiency require ambitious and novel approaches across scientific and geographic boundaries. RIFS (formerly IASS) conducts research with the aim of understanding, promoting and shaping societal change processes towards sustainability. The institute develops problem understanding and solution options in cooperation between science, politics, administration, economy and civil society. The research approach is transformative, transdisciplinary and co-creative.
The teams at the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam (RIFS) are dedicated to the ecological, economic and socio-political dimensions of sustainability. The institute's goal is to act as a platform for science and as a link between research, politics and business in society and to contribute to the formation of public opinion.
RIFS - since January 2023 under the umbrella of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and part of the research field "Earth and Environment" of the Helmholtz Association - with its special research approach brings together science, politics, economy and society in discourses on societal challenges. Recommendations for action for decision-makers are jointly developed, thus enabling the transfer of knowledge to society. Knowledge from practice (experiential knowledge) is combined with new findings from science in order to jointly develop suitable solutions and to initiate, support and scientifically accompany the necessary transformation towards sustainability. The transdisciplinary research processes build on disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, and involve practitioners from the very beginning. In this way, together they develop and answer novel questions on pressing socially relevant issues related to sustainability.
In addition, the RIFS Fellows Program brings together researchers from around the world for scientific collaboration. The institute draws on the experience, knowledge and innovation potential of renowned fellows - from excellent young scientists to competent practitioners and Nobel laureates.
The exchange with representatives from science, business, politics and society enables constant reflection and promotes the further development of the RIFS topics. The involvement of various stakeholders ensures social visibility and thus transfer into society.
History of RIFS (previously IASS)
Previously known as the IASS, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in January 2023 joined the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers under the umbrella of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. The Institute now operates under its new name as the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS). With its transdisciplinary approach to sustainability research, RIFS complements the Helmholtz research area "Earth and Environment" in particular. Hereby synergies, new cooperations and innovative impulses are tapped into. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the State of Brandenburg had led the way to institutionalization for the institute shortly after the completion of the institute's evaluation by the German Science and Humanities Council in 2020. The idea to establish an institute that acts as an intermediary between science, politics and society originated in 2007 from the Potsdam Nobel Laureate Symposium "Global Sustainability - A Nobel Cause". In February 2009 the IASS was founded in Potsdam by the BMBF on behalf of the German federal government, the state of Brandenburg and several members of the Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany.