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The Knowledge Society’s Role in the Transformation Process: Recommendations for Research and Education Research and education will play a central role during the requisite transformation process into a low-carbon, sustainable society, as the realisation of the necessity for restructuring the global economy is mainly based on scientific knowledge. Despite its clear objectives and the already available low-carbon technologies, the transformation is a societal search process. In cooper­ ation with politics and society, science is tasked with developing visions for a low-carbon society, exploring different development paths, and developing climatefriendly and affordable technological and social inno­ vations. Technological innovations are of major impor­ tance to develop low-carbon alternatives to existing production and everyday technologies. Social innova­ tions are necessary to allow the diffusion of low-car­ bon technologies, and to promote individual climatefriendly behaviour. Research should generate both systemic, reflexive and anticipative knowledge. This must be additionally complemented by extensive participative elements, both in terms of social implementation and the research process as such, as participation in the transformation process itself creates the basis for its legitimation and acceptance. Only broadly legitimised politics and poli­ cies can lead to sustainable solutions, and a democratic transformation process. There are still many open questions regarding the long-term transformation - these must be answered in order to be able to determine how to proceed. On the one hand, research helps to clearly define the trans­ formation’s guiding principles, on the other hand, it provides technical and social innovations, thereby ena­ bling the transformation process. Ideally, it also leads to groundbreaking innovations which impact at the appropriate speed, and in various social sub-systems, inspiring further innovations. Education should put people in a position to develop an awareness of the problems, and to act responsibly and appropriately. To enable education to support the transformation, scientific findings must be made com­ prehensible and accessible. Relevant knowledge should be communicated through education in all areas and


to all age groups, from kindergarten to school, voca­ tional training, or university, and extend to lifelong ‘on-the-job’ learning. Educational institutes should increasingly convey and teach orientation knowledge for sustainability and the skills necessary for lifelong learning and systemic thinking. Besides new curricula and degree courses and modules, completely new pro­ fessions might become necessary. Active participation in research processes also has an educative effect; fur­ thermore, it also contributes to knowledge generation and research legitimation. Research and education are therefore necessary conditions for fulfilling the new social contract for the transformation towards a low-carbon society proposed by the WBGU. It is research and science’s social respon­ sibility to contribute actively to the success of the transformation towards a low-carbon society. The pro­ motion of transformation-relevant research and edu­ cation are therefore key tasks for any proactive state (Section 5.4.1). A research and education reform unlocks future opportunities for those who participate in it. In view of this, educational institutes should increasingly teach and enable sustainability-oriented knowledge, and the skills necessary for lifelong learning and systemic thinking. This also includes a better understanding of how research gains insights and creates knowledge as well as the scope and the limits of the research process. In the medium and long term, this will benefit all mem­ bers of society, allowing them to participate more spe­ cifically in the transformation process, thereby advanc­ ing it. Young scientists could participate in the transforma­ tion process in the role of ‘research pioneers’ by inno­ vatively focusing their individual endeavours on its requirements, thereby accelerating the transformation. This calls for a systemic, inter- and transdisciplinary approach. German science and research policy could emerge as an international role model if it continues to develop further in the direction already pursued in part, towards systemic, transformation-relevant research, thereby


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WBGU Flagship Report: World in Transition – A Social Contract for Sustainability  

WBGU Flagship Report: World in Transition – A Social Contract for Sustainability  

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