Autumn School 2023

Sustainability science framings and practices in Europe:

How do we leverage transformative research?

16-20 October 2023 | Aussois, Savoie, France

The environmental challenges which we are facing today are rooted in unprecedented and deeply interlinked crises in the relationship between humans and the planet. These challenges combine geo-ecological, political, economic and social problems. To better understand them, and to be able to address these challenges, research needs to undergo profound transformations.

Despite considerable advances of knowledge over the last decade, and the efforts towards collaboration between a broad range of disciplines to understand the systemic complexities which underlie sustainability challenges, the scientific community has so far failed to bring about the transformations that would be necessary to achieve and sustain acceptable living conditions for humans and ecosystems. This raises fundamental questions about the role of research, the use of knowledge and the social and political impact of science.

As a scientific community, we need to abandon the classic linear view through which science feeds into action, and instead start building better conditions for the appropriation of scientific knowledge by private and public actors. This requires experimenting with new ways of producing and sharing knowledge with decision-makers and actors on the ground, and exploring a wider range of narratives for the future, ranging from full recognition of the current crisis to desirable scenarios exploring radical system shift.

The Autumn School will allow the participants to share and reflect on the various ways science communities in Europe frame sustainability science and transform their practices to better address sustainability challenges and make a greater contribution to societal transformations. This should enable participants to integrate new concepts and practices into their future research portfolios.

Important Information

* The call for applications is now closed *

Applicants will be notified by the end of June

Accommodation, meals and teaching costs are fully covered by the organizers.

Upon request, travel costs can be covered for participants working in European middle income countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine).

Steering Committee

Nathalie Blanc, CNRS

Wolfgang Cramer, CNRS

Rebecca Fenn, CNRS, Future Earth

Helmut Haberl, BOKU

Pavel Kambersky, CNRS, Future Earth

Jacqueline Loos, Leuphana University

Joan Martinez Alier, ICTA, UAB

Sandrine Paillard, CNRS, Future Earth

Alban Thomas, INRAE


AllEnvi - Alliance nationale de recherche pour l'environnement | France

ATHENA - Alliance thématique nationale des sciences humaines et sociales | France

BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences | Vienna, Austria

CNFCG - Comité national français des changements globaux | France

DKN - German National Committee of Future Earth | Germany

ICTA-UAB - Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals | Barcelona, Spain

Leuphana University | Lüneburg, Germany

SCNAT - Swiss Academy of Sciences | Switzerland

What is the Autumn School about?

The Autumn School offers a programme of keynotes and small group activities to encourage discussion, collective reflection, interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration among all participants: speakers, organizers and early career researchers.

Main topics include:

- How can historical perspectives contribute to understanding the present and exploring possible futures?

- How can positive narratives or utopia enable actions?

- How can integrated research on biophysical and social conditions help identify leverage points towards a more sustainable future?

- What role does, should, could and can research play in opening up the space for more pluralistic and radical visions for sustainability?

- How to steer and engage in transdisciplinary projects?

Speaker Session, Autumn School 2022

Confirmed Speakers

Sabine Barles, University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne | Paris, France

Nathalie Blanc, CNRS, University of Paris Cité, LADYSS | Paris, France

Wolfgang Cramer, CNRS, Mediterranean Institute of Marine and Terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecology | Aix-en-Provence, France

Helmut Haberl, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences | Vienna, Austria

Gerhard Krinner, Institute for Environmental Geosciences (IGE), CNRS | Grenoble, France

Joan Martinez Alier, ICTA, UAB | Barcelona, Spain

Anke Schaffartzik, Central European University | Vienna, Austria

Hanna Straß-Senol, Rachel Carson Center | Munich, Germany

Klement Tockner, Senckenberg Society of Nature Research | Frankfurt, Germany


We invite doctoral researchers and researchers who finished their PhD within the last 10 years (excluding periods of parental leave) who are living and working in Europe to apply.

We aim at assembling a group of early career researchers from across Europe with a variety of backgrounds in terms of disciplines, approaches, visions, themes, and research practices, who share the wish to reflect and act on how research can better contribute to societal transformations.

As a prerequisite for participation, participants need to be pursuing research related to the autumn school’s core themes and questions. Additionally, participants are expected to have sufficient proficiency in English to be able to actively participate in the autumn school.

Accommodation, meals and teaching costs are fully covered by the organizers. Upon request, travel costs can be covered for participants working in European middle income countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine).

Workshop Discussion, Autumn School 2022

How to Apply

To apply, you will be asked to upload a CV (max. 1 page), and a motivation statement (600 words) explaining how your research relates to the topic of the Autumn School, what you expect to take away from the Autumn School, and how you envision to contribute to the interdisciplinary and collaborative learning space of the Autumn School.

* The call for applications is now closed *

Applicants will be notified by the end of June


The autumn school will take place in Aussois, a charming, small village on the doorstep of the Vanoise National Park (French Alps) in a resort owned by CNRS.

Centre Paul-Langevin

The closest railway station is Modane. To get to Modane, you can use the French high-speed train TGV (4h from Paris, 1h30 from Torino).

We will organize local transport to pick you up at the TGV station of Modane and bring you back to the station on Friday after lunch (about 15 min by bus to reach the venue).

Participants can arrive between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Aussois, France

Autumn School 2022: Quelles sciences face aux impératifs de durabilité ?

The 2022 Autumn School was held from 11-14 October in Saint Pierre d'Oléron, France on the theme "What kind of science do we need to move towards sustainability?