NEST Winter School at Fraunhofer ISI

Questionnaire: Berit Piepgras

from Jacob Leidenberger /

This week, PhD students and junior researchers from the NEST PhD-Network and the STRN methodologies thematic group are gathering at Fraunhofer ISI. Regularly we ask a participant of the NEST Winter School on “Methodologies and Methods for Sustainability Transitions Research“ to complete a questionnaire. Today: Berit Piepgras.

Berit Piepgras

Who are you?  

I am Berit Piepgras, I’m an architect with 12 years of working experience and re-entering academia as a PhD candidate at the Industrial Design Faculty in Delft. Before I’ve been working for a few years in a multidisciplinary design studio in The Hague and founded my own company with focus on design research, participatory processes and urbanism.

How did you get interested in transitions research and what is your PhD about? 

I've been working for 10 years in different inter-, trans- and multidisciplinary team settings, mostly on research through design projects. That has to do with participatory processes in urban and spatial settings. And that brought me to transitions research, the contexts of socio-technical change and the idea, that transitions theories are working with all this. My PhD is about transformative design for sustainability and participatory processes. So I have a look at niches in the transitions theory and how they are being empowered and what are their dynamics in the transition to a more sustainable world.

How was your day?

Very nice. We‘ve had a nice mix of lectures and workshops like getting knowledge and being able to apply it. For example, we talked about the role as a researcher in these trans-disciplinary research settings today: What role are you taking on in what situations and is your aim connected to your own framing of your research project? It has also been nice to hear different points of view with references to transitions theory.

Do you have a highlight so far?

Definitively the integration of small exercises. For example, we did a little group exercise this morning how we perceive ourselves concerning the transdisciplinarity. The exercise quickly made explicit what we are talking about and revealed our own biases or blind spots. I think that was the highlight. But I'm also really happy with all the input on different methods and methodologies and to hear more about the background of transition studies regarding that. The transdisciplinarity and the question how to involve all stakeholders in the research process or how to grasp that is also an interesting aspect of this winter school.

What do you expect of the remaining days?  

To gain more knowledge on these theories but also to expand my network within the PhD community, to know peers and learning from each other and building up networks for future research. It's super interesting to hear all the other fields that are represented here. In what ways other people are struggling with the wicked problems.


Thank you very much for answering our questions.

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