Institute for Social-Ecological Research

The ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research has been examining the relationship between society and nature since 1989. The Frankfurt-based institution has developed a Social Ecology programme that is designed to examine and provide practical solutions for water shortages, energy consumption, mobility concerns and the loss of biodiversity. The transdisciplinary approach of all our research has resulted in new perspectives and innovative solutions.

ISOE was founded in Frankfurt in 1989. Over the last 29 years, the institute has built a reputation as a leading centre for transdisciplinary sustainability research, focusing on the most pressing concerns that society is currently facing. Our researchers are tasked with developing solutions and making practical contributions to a sustainable development.

Within the research programme Frankfurt Social Ecology we are examining the different actors within society, their relationships with each other, the range of actions available to them as well as their decision-making ability within the given political power structures. Actors include groups from business, politics, and society as a whole. The theoretical basis of our work and academic teaching is social ecology: the study of societal relations to nature. The central question that social ecology attempts to answer is how crisis-prone societal relations to nature can be recognised, understood and consequently responded to.

ISOE consists of approximately 50 permanent staff, 36 of whom are directly engaged in scientific research. The research itself takes place within the institute’s six research units:

  • Water resources and land use
  • Water infrastructure and risk analysis
  • Energy and climate protection in everyday life
  • Mobility and urban spaces
  • Biodiversity and people
  • Transdisciplinary methods and concepts

ISOE’s critical transdisciplinary approach enables scientists to address complex societal and scientific questions and to examine the extent to which the institute’s key research areas are interrelated and how they are influenced by global developments.