Our society is facing manifold and far-reaching change processes. They are aimed at transforming our ways of living and doing business and making them more sustainable and viable in all areas, sectors, and branches. To support these change processes, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has established the Karlsruhe Transformation Center for Sustainability and Cultural Change (KAT) with funds of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts. On February 2, 2022, KAT took up work.
“KAT is the first institution in Baden-Württemberg that brings together science and research, of the first part, and economic, municipal, and civil society actors, of the second part, to share and increase knowledge about sustainability. I am convinced that this will be the key to quickly reaching our climate protection goals together. The institution is based on the positive experience gained by KIT’s real-world labs. They are also funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg that takes the lead in Germany in this respect,” says Baden-Württemberg Science Minister Theresia Bauer.
KAT connects science and practice in seven areas of action: Research, education, advice, communication and networking, reflection and contemplation, experimental space, and action and innovation. KAT acts as a bridge between knowledge and acting to push the “big transformation.” Its necessity was emphasized in 2011 by the Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Government on Global Environmental Changes in its report “Welt im Wandel – Gesellschaftsvertrag für eine große Transformation” (a changing world – a social contract for a big transformation).
“As a University of Excellence, we are proud to show that outstanding research and vicinity to practice do not exclude each other, but can be combined perfectly. This is done by KAT,” says the President of KIT, Professor Holger Hanselka. “The result is a direct added value for both science and society.” KAT complements KIT’s broad portfolio. The new institution focuses on the human being and society and works for a good life in future that respects the environment, fellow humans, and posterity. “With its clear focus on sustainability and its openness to society, KAT significantly enriches the KIT in the areas of transfer and sustainability,” underscores KIT’s Vice-President for Transfer and International Affairs, Professor Thomas Hirth.
Researchers Deliberately Undergo Change Processes
KAT understands transformation as a comprehensive eco-socio-technical change and studies and accompanies innovations for a sustainable development in all areas of life. It develops extensive training offers and provides individual advice for municipalities, institutions, companies, and organizations. Real-world labs create interfaces between science, industry, politics, and society. KAT is affiliated to KIT’s Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) that looks back on 25 years of internationally acknowledged sustainability research and has gained vast experience from the operation of real-world labs. Among others, it was granted several prizes for its “District Future” lab, the work of which will now be continued and extended by KAT. “The researchers themselves undergo change processes and are involved in them. By means of this rather unusual way of research, findings are obtained that cannot be generated by mere observation from outside,” the Head of ITAS, Professor Armin Grunwald describes the work of the real-world lab. The initiator and Head of KAT is Dr. Oliver Parodi, research group leader at ITAS, who also launched the “District Future” lab. “With KAT, we are creating an institution of change and bring topics like climate protection, energy transition, and the culture of sustainability down to a practical level,” Parodi explains. His interdisciplinary team consists of 17 members.
The Mayor for the Environment and Health of the city of Karlsruhe, Bettina Lisbach, is happy about this innovative institution: “For organizations, companies, municipalities, and the region of Karlsruhe, KAT means a real enrichment. Climate change, resources, and social issues represent big challenges for our cities. We are happy to have this center of competence in Karlsruhe. It will contribute to making our cities fit for the future.”
The opening ceremony of KAT is planned to take place as part of the conference “Nachhaltig wirken – Reallabore in der Transformation” (acting sustainably – real-world labs in transformation) on June 2 and 3, 2022 at the Südwerk - Bürgerzentrum Südstadt Karlsruhe.
„Was ist ein Reallabor?“ – explanation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhQXeOnP9ZI
Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.