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Passau research team in DKN working group on the “bioeconomy”: using art to combat climate change

A research team from the University of Passau is part of the German Committee Future Earth (DKN) working group “Sustainable, transformative and circular bioeconomy”. The agricultural sociologist Professor Martina Padmanabhan and the cultural anthropologist Dr Patrick Keilbart are committed to new possibilities of communicating climate change – for example with the help of art.

“Most fields of research agree: a lot of things will have to change fundamentally in the coming decades if we want to curb climate change,” says Professor Martina Padmanabhan, holder of the Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies with a focus on Southeast Asia at the University of Passau. Electricity will have to be generated differently and resources used more sparingly, and a lot more products should be grown organically. “We cannot put any of these things into practice if we don’t take the population with us,” says Professor Martina Padmanabhan. Together with her colleague Dr Patrick Keilbart, the agricultural sociologist from the University of Passau is therefore looking for new ways in which science can enter into dialogue with other areas of society. Because: “Social change is only possible if science, politics and society pull together,” states cultural anthropologist Dr Keilbart.

Professor Martina Padmanabhan

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Professor Martina Padmanabhan has held the Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies with a focus on Southeast Asia since 2012, where she implements new methodologies for interdiciplinarity.

The two researchers from Passau are now promoting these ideas as new members of the nationwide German Committee Future Earth (DKN) working group “Sustainable, transformative and circular bioeconomy”.

Dr. Patrick Keilbart, Universität Passau

Dr Patrick Keilbart is a researcher at the Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies with a focus on Southeast Asia. Photos: Matthias Scherzer from "Lichtgestalten"

The committee is an independent scientific advisory body of the German Research Foundation (DFG). For the advancement of sustainability research in Germany and to support the researchers who are dealing with issues of sustainability and a sustainable development, the DKN has set up various working groups in which scientists from various disciplines and from different higher education institutions and research centres work. One of these working groups is the one about the bioeconomy.

The goal of the bioeconomy is a sustainable form of economy in which most products are produced from renewable raw materials in a sustainable manner and are biodegradable and capable of being grown organically. The working group, which has been set up for one and a half years, is supposed to provide new ideas and approaches for research projects. To this end, the scientists will start by getting an overview of “blind spots”, i.e. areas where little research has been done.

Furthermore, the working group is examining which players have to be involved and in what way in order to implement approaches relating to the bioeconomy – and, above all, how the wider society can be integrated into this discourse. The latter consideration is the area in which Professor Padmanabhan and Dr Keilbart mainly want to work. Their goal is to initiate a lively exchange of ideas between science and society.

This requires new and innovative approaches: Professor Padmanabhan and Dr Keilbart believe that performance or action art could encourage people to reflect on issues and to discuss them. The Passau professor and the junior researcher have already successfully experimented with such forms in their research, for example in the IndORGANIC project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in which they explored the potential of organic farming in Indonesia and also used artistic measures in training sessions and workshops on the spot in Indonesia.

Reisanbau in Indonesien - kann die dortige Landwirtschaft verstärkt auf Bio setzen? Foto: V. Schreer

IndORGANIC: Passau Researchers prepare real Green Transformation Indonesia

Turning Indonesia organic: Can the agriculture of the world’s largest island country be transformed into a bioeconomy? A research team at the University of Passau explores the potential of organic farming in Indonesia - the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF) supports the project with a budget of EUR 882.

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