Argicultural Machine,

European Training Network an der HU

By 2022, doctoral students are to be trained for a more just and sustainable world.

Human consumption of food and agricultural products has a significant impact on the environment and the societies in the regions where agricultural goods are produced. Different sectors, consumers, businesses and politicians are increasingly demanding more environmental and social sustainable land use – both inside and outside Europe. For this reason, scientists from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) and other European universities have developed a joint graduate school with partner organizations in order to better integrate research, innovation and social responsibility.

Professors Jonas Østergaard Nielsen and Tobias Kuemmerle from the German excellence center IRI THESys and the Geographical Institute of the HU, together with universities from Denmark, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and Switzerland as well as with international partner organization from business and civil society, have been awarded a European Training Network  from the EU Program for Research and Innovation – Horizon 2020. The graduate school, financed by approximately 3.7 million, is to run until 2022, with the aim of training outstanding PhD students within the framework of excellent research projects. Participation of institutions from the non-academic sector is a key component of the research.

The recently established concept of telecouplings, which combines geographic research, network analysis and system theory, helps to explain the drivers and outcomes of land use change by investigating the interrelationship between different actors, drivers, and feedback over long distances. This allows to couple the impact of agricultural production in remote areas with consumption elsewhere, thus avoiding negative effects as well as increasing the efficiency of land use, for example through strategic governance of international trade.

The project “Operationalising Telecoupling for Solving Sustainability Challenges for Land Use” – COUPLED tries to put this research approach into practice and to train a new generation of young scientists in trans- and interdisciplinary concepts and methodologies. The future doctoral students learn (1) to understand processes and actors that influence land use in an increasingly interconnected world, (2) to consider distant, unexpected feedback and spill-over and to account for their social and environmental impact, and 3) to foster new and enhanced governance measures that can shape land use couplings to deliver more sustainable outcomes of land use decisions.

In close cooperation with companies, NGOs, international organizations and administrative bodies, the doctoral students will move between science and practice in order to qualify for successful careers in research, consulting, industry or governance.

European Training Network (ETN) program

An ETN is a European Training Network, which is granted by the European Commission in Horizon 2020. Networks with European / international partners get funded. The cooperation with non-academic partners (companies, administrative bodies, non-governmental organizations, museums, etc.), which could be future employers of the doctoral students and contribute to the training program, is especially important. Activities include doctoral projects, intersectoral secondments, internships, training courses, summer schools, etc.

The network COUPLED

COUPLED is a European Training Network, which is funded from 1 January 2018 for a duration of four years. It comprises an international team of 15 PhD students.

Direct beneficiaries: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, University of Bern, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, University of Copenhagen, Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Université Catholique de Louvain, The Forest Trust, Unilever. Partners: European Landowners’ Organization, Stockholm Environment Institute, Fairphone, Fairtrade International, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nestlé, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, The World Bank, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center.


Jonas Østergaard Nielsen
Humboldt University of Berlin

Tel .: 030 2093-66341
jonas [dot] ostergaard [dot] nielsen [at] hu-berlin [dot] de

Quelle: HU-Berlin, Stabstelle Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, European Training Network at the HU