Quality of life in cities – what strategies do we need?

Research questions

  • How can different ideas about the quality of life be factored into urban transformation processes, and what participation formats are suitable for determining a common direction?
  • What role does gender play in participation, and how can gender-sensitive measures to promote participation be assessed?
  • What are the criteria and indicators for the quality of life in cities against the backdrop of overarching sustainability goals, what conflicting goals result and how can these be addressed?
  • What points of contact already exist in urban planning and development with regard to quality of life in cities?
  • How do we bring quality of life in line with affordable housing?
  • What significance does sustainable food have for the quality of life in urban areas?
  • What role does resilience play for the quality of urban life?


Participatory regional dialogs for the further development of the Federal Government's High-Tech Strategy (HTS)

The High-Tech Strategy 2025 (HTS) is the current research and innovation strategy of the Federal Government. Its goal is to increase innovation dynamics in Germany in order to develop new solutions for emerging societal challenges. The participation process aims to include new perspectives from society into the further development of the HTS. For this purpose, regional dialogues will take place, their results are evaluated with regard to new challenges, innovation cultures and future competencies for Germany. For this reason, proposals will be drawn up in a supra-regional results dialogue with various stakeholders, innovation experts and the High-Tech Forum, and then presented and discussed as impulses for the further development of the High-Tech Strategy in a round table with representatives of all ministries.

Accompanying research to the funding initiative “Healthy – for life”

In the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) funding initiative “Healthy – for life”, research projects address the specific health concerns of different groups of the population: children and young people, women and men, working people, and the elderly. The overarching objective is to develop innovative concepts for more effective prevention and care. Alongside project-specific issues, the projects also address cross-cutting approaches such as the participation of those affected, a stronger orientation of research towards patient-relevant outcomes, diversity, the implementation of complex interventions, and the transfer of research results into practice. The accompanying research supports the funded projects with regard to such overarching approaches through needs-based networking and information services. This takes place with the participation of those being funded and relevant stakeholders. In addition to this support, the accompanying research also has its own scientific objectives and analyzes how these cross-cutting approaches can be operationalized and implemented in order to derive good practice recommendations tailored to specific target groups.  

Commons-based Peer Production in Open Workshops COWERK: Future workshops to anticipate social future perspectives

The research project COWERK explores what contribution open workshops can make to sustainable development. It is assumed that open workshops are an expression and a result of changing production and innovation conditions and, as a specific organizational form, also have the potential to encourage more sustainable forms of economic activity. The main objective is to discover how to design open workshops in an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable way, embed them in society as a whole, and link them with existing economic structures in the context of open innovation processes.

Ways to a sustainable world of work. Working group “Future of work”. wpn2030 – Science Platform Sustainability 2030

The wpn2030 working group “Future of work” addressed the question: What paths lead to a sustainable world of work? The objective was to provide scientifically-based impulses for political actors. The work was founded on a broad interdisciplinary exchange with science and a transdisciplinary exchange with politics, business and civil society.

Regional Development Strategy TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe 2030

The regional development strategy TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe 2030 forms the framework for a forward-looking, goal-oriented and at the same time efficient cooperation between TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe GmbH, its shareholders and partners. The strategy brochure illustrates the process of strategy development and its main results. The vision and the roadmap with the selected goals and measures show that social cohesion and the way of life are as relevant for regional development as the focus areas of mobility, digitisation and energy.

SmarterCity Karlsruhe: Roadmapping new ideas based on a shared vision

At a symposium, the SmarterCity Karlsruhe initiative selected three projects that should be promoted up to 2025. At a one-day event, around 50 participants from business, research and active Karlsruhe networks discussed and evaluated the project ideas submitted from previous events and a survey conducted by Fraunhofer ISI, which supported the initiative conceptually. The results of the institute's survey, which registered about 30 project proposals, already indicated priorities in the areas of IT infrastructure, mobility/transport/traffic, locations for business, housing for the elderly, and social interaction as well as educational opportunities. The presented ideas were discussed and evaluated in terms of the criteria citizen benefits/municipal benefit, visionary/innovative character, mass appeal, sustainability and feasibility.

Living Labs in the Green Economy: Real-world innovation for user integration and sustainability (INNOLAB)

Living Labs are research and innovation platforms that address real-world utilization at an early phase of the innovation process and thus open up perspectives for improving market acceptance and considering rebound effects in innovation processes. The guiding principle of the Green Economy prioritizes investments in sustainability innovations as levers for a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive economy.

Future Food Commons – New models of consumer-producer interaction

The focus of this research project is the consumer area of nutrition. Changes in the area of new, flexible forms of consumer-producer interaction (KPI) are already emerging here, challenging traditional models of ownership and consumption.

Evaluation Framework for Promoting Gender Equality in Research and Innovation (EFFORTI)

The basis for EFFORTI is the observation that better integration of women into the research and innovation system as well as taking into account gender aspects in research and innovation projects has an impact on the methodology and the quality and relevance of results. In order to verify this hypothesis the international consortium developed and tested an evaluation model which does not only draw on existing knowledge of “measuring“ research and innovation results in order to establish appropriate indicators and corresponding methods but also describes current discourses how the traditional evaluation approaches regarding the concept of responsible research and innovation can be extended.


  • Priebe, M., Szczepanska, T., Higi, L., Schröder, T. (forthcoming). Participatory Modeling for Public Engagement in Urban Governance: Communication, Consultation and Deliberation in Immersive Simulation Environments. Journal of Urban Technology.
  • Bührer, S.; Kalpazidou Schmidt, E.; Palmén. R.; Reidl, S. (2020): Evaluating gender equality effects in research and innovation systems. In: Scientometrics.
  • Szczepanska, T., Priebe, M.; Schröder, T. (2020). Teaching the Complexity of Urban Systems with Participatory Social Simulation. Proceedings of the Social Simulation Conference (SSC 2018). Springer.
  • Ehlgötz, J.; Jung-Erceg, P.; Fahrenberg, J.; Hauck, H.; Suikat, R.; Dönitz, E; Voglhuber-Slavinsky, A.; Kimpeler, S.; Stahlecker, T.; Zenker, A. (2019): Regionale Entwicklungsstrategie TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe 2030.
  • Thorpe, D. (2019): Unbundling »Indigenous Space Capability«: Actors, Policy Positions and Agency in Geospatial Information Science in Southwest Nigeria. (Dissertation, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies). University of Edinburgh.
  • Erdmann, L.; Dönitz, E. (2018): Zukünfte für Offene Werkstätten: Antizipation neuer Wertschöpfungsmuster in einem Visioning-Prozess. In: T. Redlich, M. Moritz, J.P. Wulfsberg (Hrsg.): Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven zur Zukunft der Wertschöpfung, S. 51-62. Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden.
  • Warnke, P.; Dönitz, E.; Opitz, I.; Zoll, F.; Doernberg, A.; Specht, K.; Siebert, R.; Piorr, A.; Berges, R. (2018): Szenarien zur Zukunft der Nahrungsmittelversorgung. Chancen und Herausforderungen für alternative Versorgungsnetzwerke. Hg. v. Fraunhofer ISI. Karlsruhe.
  • Schiek, M. (2017): Corporate Regional Responsibility. Formen, Motive und Hemmnisse der regionalen Verantwortungsübernahme von Unternehmen in Frankfurt-Rhein-Main und im Ruhrgebiet. (=Metropolis und Region, 16). Detmold: Rohn.
  • Stahlecker, T.; Bratan, T.; Meyborg, M.; Gudd, K.; Reiß, T. (2017): Gesundheitsregionen als regionale Innovationsysteme? In: Dahlbeck, E.; Hilbert, J. (Hrsg.): Gesundheitswirtschaft als Motor der Regionalentwicklung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 35-51.

Method portfolio

  • Visioning
  • Environment analysis / horizon scanning and trend analyses
  • Scenario development
  • Face-to-face and/or online participation processes
  • Needs analyses
  • Participatory modeling
  • Cognitive mapping
  • Ethnographic methods / empirical social research
  • Situation analysis
  • Accompanying, monitoring and evaluating model projects / (gender-sensitive) evaluation of measures