Our biggest challenges demand bridging disciplines and perspectives

Our biggest challenges demand bridging disciplines and perspectives

I am studying what I believe to be important questions concerning our collective future: What constitutes real human well-being and autonomy? How can we reconcile planetary boundaries with human self-determination? What keeps us from transitioning to a climate-friendly, just, and sustainable economy?

Research Interests

Politics of climate change and economic transformation

The role of scientists and experts in public discourse and policymaking

Public opinion about the relationship between science and politics

Philosophy of science

Public understanding of science

 

In my view, these questions require thinking in terms of societal challenges and broad research questions, rather than within narrow disciplinary boundaries. Over the years, I've built an academic background in Economics, Sociology, Global Studies and Political Science, giving me a wide repertoire of theories and methods I use in my research projects. 

Currently, I am finishing my PhD in climate change communication. Focusing on Germany and the United States, my research investigates who drives public controversies about climate science and politics and why some aspects of the issue are hotly debated while others are left ignored. 

As I am wrapping up my dissertation work, I am preparing my next research projects. For me, four questions are going to be crucial to ensure a just transition to a sustainable economy:

How can we enable younger people to have a say in decisions with enormous impacts on their future? How do we need to organise economic life to better reflect our societal needs? What kind of expertise do we need in decision-making institutions to help us manage this change? What systems of power exercise resistance to these progressive political projects?

Do climate science consensus messages have an effect in Germany?

Research Project

Informing people about the scientific consensus on climate change is an effective way to boost support for climate action — but the research underlying this finding is mainly done in the US and other English-speaking countries, where there is much more public debate about climate science und more political polarisation.

In this research project, I tested some of the literature's most important findings in Germany. My results show that many important relationships between beliefs about climate science and support for policy are similar. Yet, informing people with so called "consensus messages" does not appear to be very effective. The study is currently under revision, and will hopefully be published later this year.

How do media make climate change a feature of political identities?

Research Project

With this research project, I investigated how different media report about the politics of climate change. I focused on how media portray known and new "political identities" (eg. Conservative, Socialist, Fridays for Future activist) and if and how they align them with a particular stance on climate change and climate policy.

And indeed, they do so by linking the issue to more and less fundamental aspects of the identity in question. But as I found out, there are strong differences between the US and German media. In addition, left- and right-leaning media tend to exaggerate differences between groups much more than media read by wider audiences. The paper about the study is currently undergoing revision and will be out later in 2021.

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