We aim to describe the interaction between social and natural systems, which we see as co-evolutionary, in scientifically sound theoretical and methodological terms.
The two concepts of social metabolism and the colonization of natural systems constitute the core of our socio-ecological theory. These concepts draw from quite differing scientific traditions – biology, sociology, economics, technical sciences, history, geography and cultural anthropology – and offer a coherent perspective on the society-nature relationship.
This perspective guides us conceptually and practically in developing information systems for the environmental consequences of human activity (“pressures upon the environment”). It also orients us in our research on ecological and socio-economic aspects of sustainable development at the local, national and global levels.
Our methodological spectrum includes material and energy flow analysis (MFA and EFA), geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing methods, systemic actor-oriented and organizational analyses, and the use of historical sources. We make increasing use of modelling techniques for data simulation, a synthetic presentation of results and as a basis for scenarios. Our culture of stable interdisciplinary cooperation and intensive teamwork make this spectrum possible.