“The biggest challenge to advance transformation is to translate knowledge into action“ – Interview with the editors of “Transdisciplinary Impulses towards Socio-Ecological Transformation“

New with Budrich:

Transdisciplinary Impulses towards Socio-Ecological Transformation. Engaged Reflections – Reflected Engagements

by Helge Kminek, Anna Geyer and Markus B. Siewert



About the book

Education for sustainable development should enable people to think and act in a way that is fit for the future – in the face of challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty and inequality. How can different disciplines address this task? In this volume, academic interdisciplinary contributions from philosophy, social sciences and education are complemented by transdisciplinary contributions from practical fields (e.g. museum education, journalism). The current contributions provide impulses for reflection and open up spaces for thinking in order to do justice to the complexity of the task of socio-ecological transformation.


Dear Helge Kminek, Anna Geyer and Markus B. Siewert, give us a sense of what was the impetus for publishing the book “Transdisciplinary Impulses towards Socio-Ecological Transformation” ?

The book is the provisional conclusion of an extremely productive interdisciplinary cooperation among us three editors. Thanks to the support from the teaching funds of the Goethe University Frankfurt, we were able to promote the networking activities around the topic of sustainability at our university and within the urban society of Frankfurt at large. The book emerges from an interdisciplinary lecture series on sustainable development and a related service-learning seminar as a collection of engaged reflections on transdisciplinary impulses towards socio-ecological transformation. It is hence the result of our research and teaching interests, as much as of a broader societal discussion.


What topics do the authors address?

The anthology brings together transdisciplinary contributions from philosophy, sociology, economics, and educational science. It was, however, also a special concern for us to provide space for application-oriented initiatives from the field. For example, while colleagues from the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, one of the largest and most important natural history museums in Europe, reflect on their work in museum education, another contribution traces the university policy processes for limiting official air travel at Goethe University. Yet another article deals with the question of how to report on climate change in the media. This diversity of contributions is particularly important to us. It does not only illustrate the complexity of the transformation to a sustainable society, but it simultaneously highlights the need to consciously expose ourselves to different perspectives on this topic.


From the perspective of your fields of expertise, what are currently the greatest challenges creating and dealing with socio-ecological transformation – especially in the areas of education?

From our point of view, the biggest challenge to advance the necessary socio-ecological transformation is to translate the existing knowledge into action. While topics like climate change, circular economy or inequalities are hotly discussed, neither the changes on the individual nor political level are sufficient. Education for Sustainable Development is an approach which can help to raise awareness and address harmful behaviours. However, for the discipline to realise its potential, the wide range of transdisciplinary educational research contributions and approaches that emerged in recent years needs to be systematised so that the different perspectives can build on each other. On the other hand, the discipline also needs to strengthen its inter- and transdisciplinary bridges to foster the exchange within academia and with society as well as to account for the complexity and action-centred claim of ESD. Yet, there is only so much that education can do! In addition, we urgently need responsible action on the organizational and of course the political level. The different spheres need to mutually support each other to enable a comprehensive transformation.


The Corona pandemic turned the world upside down for schools, universities, institutions, all of us. How do the pandemic years affect our commitment to and our efforts for socio-ecological transformation?

The Corona pandemic has influenced our commitment to socio-ecological transformation in various ways. Firstly, it vividly demonstrated the ramifications linked to the massive loss of biodiversity which makes these forms of pandemics more likely in the future. Secondly, the pandemic can be interpreted as an expression of the fact that societies are only in the face of concrete crises ready for massive structural change. However, we cannot wait until the socio-ecological crisis becomes equally acute to us, as it is already extremely urgent for many people around the globe and as it will become increasingly harder to contain in the future! Thirdly, the omnipresence of Corona moved the topic of sustainability somewhat out of the medial focus. Together with the contact restrictions, this complicated the mobilisation for a socio-ecological transformation, for example by the student movement “Fridays for Future”. Nevertheless, the pandemic can also be seen as an impulse: apart from the protests of a small minority, it has shown us how people are in solidarity and concerned about the good life of all. Especially in the first phase of the pandemic, people supported each other, for example by going shopping for the more vulnerable members of their neighbourhood. To sum up, the pandemic years have demonstrated us both, the difficulties and possibilities of implementing structural changes on a societal level like it is necessary for a socio-ecological transformation.


This is why we have chosen Barbara Budrich as our publishing partner:

We see Barbara Budrich Verlag as a place for academic publications which aim to make a socio-political contribution. This is often demanded, but rarely implemented in a consistent way. We have also had very positive experiences with Barbara Budrich as a publishing house. Especially Franziska Deller was an excellent support to us throughout the entire process, being always available for questions and giving us valuable suggestions for improvement. The close collaboration enabled a timely publication after the submission of the first manuscript.


Short vitae of the editors

Helge Kminek has close ties with Goethe University Frankfurt. He first studied education there. A second degree followed with State Examination for Teacher Training at Grammar Schools in Philosophy, Ethics, Politics and Economics. For one and a half years he had the honour of representing the Professorship for “Social Pedagogy and Adult Education” at Goethe University. Since October 2021, he is a PostDoc at the Institute for General Education. For 2022, he has planned to focus on his habilitation.




Anna Geyer has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, works currently on her Bachelor thesis in Economics and studies Political Science for her master’s degree at Goethe University Frankfurt. She holds a scholarship of “Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes” and has worked for several years as a student assistant in research and teaching projects. In her free time, she is involved in various sustainability initiatives at Goethe University like “Goethe’s Green Initiative” and “Senats-AG Nachhaltigkeit”.




Markus B. Siewert is a postdoctoral researcher at the Munich School of Politics and Public Policy and TUM School of Social Sciences & Technology. He holds a Dr. phil. in Political Science from the Goethe University Frankfurt. Before joining the Social Science Department at Frankfurt, he studied Political Science and History at the University of Freiburg. Over the course of the last years, he developed a keen interest in topics at the intersection of sustainability and digitalization.




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Transdisciplinary Impulses towards Socio-Ecological Transformation. Engaged Reflections – Reflected Engagements

by Helge Kminek, Anna Geyer and Markus B. Siewert