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Diana Hummel

Social Ecology as Transdisciplinary Science of Societal Relations to Nature (12.12.2017)

The discourse on sustainable development in the Anthropocene is, essentially, centered on the question of how the complex relations between society and nature can be conceptualized, analyzed, and shaped. In my lecture, I present a specific interpretation of social ecology as an attempt to address this question. The basic idea of Frankfurt social ecology is to put the modern distinction between nature and society at the start of a critical analysis. Theoretically, relationships between humans, society and nature are conceived as societal relations to nature. This concept focuses on patterns and modes of regulation, as well as on the entanglement of material-energetic and cultural-symbolic aspects of the relationship in different areas of action such land use, mobility, or water, energy and food supply. Using an approach that conceptualizes social-ecological systems as provisioning systems, I will show in which way theory and empirical research practice can be linked. Research that aims at contributing to sustainable development needs to integrate different kinds of scientific and non-scientific knowledge. It must combine scientific research with societal practice, in order to offer solutions for real-world problems while at the same time producing generalizable knowledge. Therefore, I will discuss transdisciplinarity as the research mode of choice for social ecology as a problem-oriented science.


Main Research Interests

  • Concepts of societal relations to nature
  • Population dynamics, biodiversity and provisioning systems
  • Gender and environment

Publications (selected)

  • Hummel, Diana, Thomas Jahn, Florian Keil, Immanuel Stieß & Stefan Liehr (2017): Social Ecology as Critical, Transdisciplinary Science – Conceptualizing, Analyzing and Shaping Societal Relations to Nature. Sustainability 9(7), 1050
  • Diana Hummel & Immanuel Stieß (2017): Social Ecology. A transdisciplinary approach on Gender and Environment research. In: MacGregor, Sherilyn (Ed.): Routledge International Handbook on Gender and Environment. London/New York., 186-201;
  • Mehring, Marion/Barbara Bernard/Diana Hummel/Stefan Liehr/Alexandra Lux (2017): Halting biodiversity loss: how social-ecological biodiversity research makes a difference. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 13 (1), 172-180