Joint Project: Accompanying Measure Transformation Parts for Sustainable Universities (traNHSform)

In view of the urgent challenges facing the German science system, as expressed in current discourses on issues of sustainability, the shaping of science-society relations, the transfer of results, but also the impacts of research, ambitious funding programs such as the "Transformation Paths for Sustainable Universities" launched as part of the BMBF initiative "Sustainability in Science" (SISI) are of considerable importance. The impact of such a funding program can be increased by setting up an accompanying project, which supports the single projects on their individual transformation paths by targeted offers on exchange, synthesis and transfer or results. Here, Fraunhofer ISI will take on the task of a science-based synthesis of the results, which aims for the systematic identification of process patterns of the transformation of universities and their performance areas.

With the program "Transformation Paths for Sustainable Universities", the BMBF funds joint projects of universities within the framework of the initiative "Sustainability in Science" (SISI) with the aim of embedding sustainability comprehensively and structurally in the German university system in all performance areas.

The overarching objective of the accompanying measure traNHSform on the funded joint projects as part of the program "Transformation Paths for Sustainable Universities" is to structurally embed sustainability as broad as possible in institutional terms, comprehensive in content and effectively in all performance areas of German universities. The scientific synthesis contributes to this by specifically compiling promoting, inhibiting and transintentional factors against the background of the complexity of service areas and institutional framework conditions, preparing them in a target group-oriented manner and feeding them into the relevant scientific and implementation-oriented discourses.

In particular, the scientific synthesis with its examinations contributes to the objectives described in the overall accompanying project by providing contributions for the

I. Creation of an implementation-oriented, concrete and adaptable knowledge basis on transformation management for sustainable universities.

II. Spread transformation processes at universities with role model character.

III. To increase visibility of transformation events at sustainable universities in the political and social sphere overall.

An additional specific aim of the scientific synthesis is to make a contribution to the scientific discourse in the subject area of (sustainability-) transformation of universities. This shall be done by coordinating a special issue in a high ranking scientific journal

The scientific synthesis combines the open-ended examination of research questions on the organisational change with a reflection and implementation perspective by continually contributing the generated knowledge to the exchange and networking formats intended in the complete project such as online-wiki and round-tables and/or networking sessions. Planning the scientific synthesis includes five phases, which are dealt with in close cooperation with the management of complete project, the German Rectors' Conference.

  1. Design of the scientific synthesis: The first step is to identify the central examination dimensions for the scientific synthesis and to develop one of the theory of change transformation paths for more sustainability at universities, which is one of the bases of the synthesis. Formulating impact assumptions regarding the planned design of change processes in the sense of naming inhibitory, promoting and transintentional factors is part of developing the theory of change. The design phase also comprises the determination of the empirical examination program. In addition, the design phase makes first contributions of the scientific synthesis to the planned wiki, the round-tables and the networking sessions. They are discussed and defined together with those responsible for the complete accompanying project. Participating in the conceptual development of indicators for the audit procedure is completed in the design phase.
  2. Implementation: To carry out the scientific synthesis a method-mix of reactive and non-reactive, quantitative and qualitative procedures will be used which makes triangulation of the results possible. It is also planned to participate in developing the concept and indicators for the audit as determining the descriptors and indicators for organisational change and the synthesis is of crucial importance.
  3. Reflection and Lessons Learned: In the context of the online-based wiki, the three round-tables and the envisaged networking sessions of the joint project (kick-off-event, status-seminar and closing event) the scientific synthesis will continually play back the key findings and thus facilitate critical (self-) reflection. These lessons learned from these exchange formats are systematically used to adapt and develop the analysis dimensions of the scientific synthesis.
  4. Documenting and disseminating the results: Processing and disseminating the results is done target group adequate and in close cooperation with the management of the complete project. Due to the scientific character of the synthesis the focus of the activities is on initiating and coordinating a special issue with contributions from the SISI single projects and the accompanying research.
  5. Project management and coordination: In addition to risk management and quality assurance the project management of the single project "scientific synthesis" comprises the close and continuing coordination with the complete project.




Federal Ministry of Education and Research/DLR


German Rectors' Conference (HRK)

University of Bremen