UNESCO-Chair on Global Understanding for Sustainability


Sustainability and sustainability policy are among the most pressing issues of our time, both on a scientific and an everyday level. The globalization of the local conditions of our everyday practices calls for an understanding of how these practices are embedded in global contexts (global understanding). Sustainability research should contribute to developing true global understanding. Sustainability policy should be based on this.

Since today's biggest challenges are global by nature, sustainability strategies should increasingly transcend the territorial political logic. The national mental framework obsessed with borders and the demarcation of differences counteracts this. Overcoming territorial thinking requires multilateral political approaches as much as a new focus on everyday practices because in today's Anthropocene it is, ultimately, our everyday actions that transform nature on a global level. Truly sustainable sustainability policies must therefore promote culturally and regionally specific paths to global sustainability, instead of presenting universal recipes.

With an increased emphasis on the cultural dimension, the fields of sustainability policy and research open up anew for the humanities and social sciences. To better integrate their expertise, new forms of cooperation with the natural sciences and new research perspectives are needed.

The UNESCO-Chair on Global Understanding for Sustainability, established in May 2018 at Friedrich Schiller University, is dedicated to these tasks. As part of a network of more than 700 UNESCO-Chairs, the chair is first and foremost a "laboratory of ideas" for developing innovative proposals in line with UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy 2014-2021. In cooperation with its advisory board and its local and global partners, the chair aims to contribute substantially to the achievement of global sustainability at the levels of scientific research, education, and information.

Word Cloud Global Understanding Word Cloud Global Understanding

Six specific objectives define our work's essence:

  • supporting the establishment of a research framework for the development of a comprehensive global understanding and awareness of the social, cultural and natural embeddedness of all human action, and generating new knowledge through theoretical and empirical research;
  • contributing to the establishment of applied human-centered sustainability science and the development of pertinent study guidelines and school teaching modules to be implemented at all educational levels;
  • enhancing awareness of individuals' capacity and responsibility for everyday decision-making, particularly through publications, conferences, and media cooperation;
  • disseminating the variety of sustainability concepts and the leadership required to implement, measure, and assess progress towards sustainability goals, both locally and at partner universities, to young scientists, practitioners, and professionals;
  • maintaining and increasing international collaboration within established and new inter- and transdisciplinary networks, and making results widely available and accessible to all; and,
  • collaborating closely with UNESCO and existing UNESCO chairs on relevant programs and activities.
Logo UNESCO Chair Logo UNESCO Chair
Prof. Benno Werlen
Löbdergraben 32
07743 Jena
Postal address:
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
UNESCO-Chair on Global Understanding for Sustainability
Löbdergraben 32
07743 Jena
Share this page
Friedrich Schiller University on social media:
Studying amid excellence:
Top of the page