1. The Basics of Sustainable Travel

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    Summer is coming soon and we have to come up with holiday planning! Sightseeing in London for a weekend, enjoying the sun on short holidays in Mallorca or should it rather be Sydney with the family for two weeks? But wait – are there perhaps more sustainable options?

    Nearby or far away – active or relaxed – beach, mountains or party mile, nowadays our range of options is almost endless. We can fly within a very short time from one side of the globe to the other; low-cost airlines make that more and more affordable. Great, right?

    Unfortunately tourism and unlimited mobility have also their dark sides. Emissions, environmental pollution, poverty and resource conflicts – air traffic is responsible for up to 10% of climate change. Unspoilt alpine landscapes vanish in consequence of mass tourism; cruise ships release vast amounts of harmful substances into the oceans. But how can we do better? How is conscious, environmentally friendly travel possible? In the following passages you will find crucial tips, the basics of sustainable travel so to say!

    Stay on the ground

    Most emissions arise on the outward and return journeys. As soon as you stay on the ground with your means of transport, the greenhouse-gas emissions decrease to ¼ compared to flying. Obviously, the longer the distance, the more difficult it gets not to fly; but nearby destinations within Europe usually can be reached easily by car, or even better by bus or train. However, there is one exception: cruise ships – even though they do not fly, their impact on the environment is enormous.

    After your arrival, public transport and bicycle should be your first choice as well. By travelling with public transport you will also get to know the country and the everyday life of locals much better.

    “Why seek far afield when the good is close by?” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Mountains, forests, lakes, sea, castles, palaces and gorgeous old towns – Germany and Europe have so much more to offer than most of us think. Too often, we know the country we live in and the neighbouring countries much less than far off travel destinations. There is something going wrong, isn’t it? How about outdoor holidays in Thuringia? Hiking and mountain biking in beautiful forests, swimming in lakes surrounded by mountains and a visit of the magical dripstone cave in Saalfeld. The Elbe Sandstone Mountain, which is one of Germany´s most beautiful natural wonders, also receives too little consideration. More ideas on underestimated travel destinations within Germany you can find here.

    If, nevertheless, you decide to travel to a destination further away, distance and travel duration should fit together. Flying to another continent should be worth it. The trip to the States can by all means last some weeks or months so that you can fully enjoy it.

    Respect nature

    While considering which activities to choose, options should be critically examined. Are fun sports in fragile landscapes really necessary? Is the activity reasonable for this climate and landscape? Does the activity fit with the culture of that particular country? Playing golf in the desert and jet skiing through mangrove forests is not a good idea for sure.

    That you should not leave waste in the landscape as a tourist (just like at home) goes without saying. If you want to go a step further, buy a water filter for camping. In many countries you cannot drink tab water like in Germany; that is why a water filter is a solution not to rely on buying plastic bottles.

    Water is scarce?

    As a tourist you might easily enter into resource conflicts with locals. Where resources are rare already, locals can suffer due to the consumption of, for example, fresh water by the powerful tourist industry. Taking long showers and having your towels and linen washed every day are not appropriate then. When it comes to housing, the interests of tourists and locals might be contradictory as well. By renting holiday apartments through online platforms, landlords can potentially earn more money than by renting them permanently, which in some areas has led to former tenants being driven away and affordable housing becoming scarce. But not everything is negative – tourism can bring advantages for the host country as well. It can be an important source of income if we actively counteract the disadvantages of tourism. So how can we manage to visit a country in a way that makes the locals benefit and at the same time allows us to have an amazing holiday with great experiences?

    Local offers instead of all-inclusive

    Booking the whole trip in an all-round carefree package is easy, but often boring and the ones who benefit from it are usually large providers instead of locals. To simplify the decision for the conscious traveler, attempts are made to label accommodations and offers as ecological and fair. So rather than choosing the next best hotel chain, try to find private hotels and hostels, which have these labels. Often you can find much more country-specific aspects in small accommodations and it may happen that you get insider tips from the owners about where to have dinner. Apropos Dinner: Try country- or region-specific food and enjoy eating regional food in small local restaurants.

    However, exceptions confirm the rule. Not everything that is traditional can be recommended and helps the locals and the environment. For example, you should not enjoy your holidays on the back of elephants. If you would like to discover more about these fascinating animals, you can spend time with them in a nature conservation center.

    You would like to know more?

    Phew… these were quite a lot of aspects to consider. The good news is that a critical view at the existing offers can already help. If you are still not fed up and would like to increase your knowledge in some points, check out The platform brings light into the jungle of providers and information.

    If you are particularly interested into the topic of mobility and would like to use more sustainable transportation in your everyday life and in your holidays, have a look at the booklet „Nachhaltig bewegen und reisen“ of the Baden-Württemberg sustainability strategy. You can download it here for free (it is only available in German).

    If you feel like discovering your hometown first, we can recommend stattreisen to you. You can also find a group in Karlsruhe with diverse offers.

    Wherever your next journey will go to – we wish you a lot of fun and great experiences!


  2. Planet calling SOS! Der Planet ruft SOS! Gezegenimizden acil yardım çağrısı!

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    How to communicate the dimensions of environmental problems and the necessity for sustainable development? And how to do it in a way, everybody will understand – regardless which country they come from and what language they speak? From this idea developed the caricature exhibition „Planet calling SOS“, which will be presented at our Zukunftsraum in November and December.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Whether it is a painting in a museum, graffiti on the wall or a photograph in a magazine, you can often understand the message without words. Pictures have a strong effect – and that’s exactly what the exhibition „Planet calling SOS“ is going for:

    Our planet needs help! We need to work together in order to protect the environment, on which our livelihood depends!

    That’s why INTEGRA Filder e.V. and the Turkish-English-German satire magazine Don Quichotte e.V. held the 1. International Caricature Competition with the topic “UN-Agenda 2030”. Participation was high: over 1000 caricatures were submitted from more than 60 countries. An international jury selected the 50 most expressive pictures are now on exhibition in different locations throughout Baden-Württemberg.



    With the help of the artists’ expressive pictures, the exhibition aims to raise awareness in our whole society – people with or without immigration background – and initiate a dialogue about sustainable development. Everyone should be aware that sustainability is important – and that we need it right now!

    A different kind of immigrant organisation

    INTEGRA refers to itself as a “somewhat different immigrant organisation”. Diversity and equal opportunities for everyone are their main goals, for which they work in education and with youth organisations. The basis of their work is in intercultural and global pedagogy, multilingualism and the criticisms of racism. Experiences of immigration and the immigration background of their members are considered a resource and a strength. Immigrants are encouraged to participate, for example as disseminators.


    Collaboration of different nationalities – this is how an exhibition arises out of some pictures!

    Young people with and without immigration background prepared the exhibition together and develop didactical materials for the travelling exhibition though Baden-Württemberg. Young people with good German skills support young refugees, strengthening their participation in the project. Erdoğan Karayel, caricaturist and editor of the newspaper Don Quichotte, is the artistic brain of the project. With methods of informal learning he conducts drawing workshops with the participating youngsters.

    Global challenges require global goals!

    The exhibition also shows – the topic concerns people around the world. The chosen pictures deal with the 17 UN goals of sustainable development – among those are „Climate Action“, „Responsible Production and Consumption“ and „Peace, Justice and strong institutions“. The goals were adopted in 2016 under the header „Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

    27 caricatures will be shown at the Future-Room (Zukunftsraum, Rintheimer Straße 46) from October 30th until December 11th 2018. The exhibition can be visited during regular opening hours (Tuesday from 2pm to 6pm & Thursday 9am to 6pm) and additionally on the two Sundays, November 11th and 25th from 3pm to 6 pm. October 30th at 3pm we open the exhibition with a vernissage.

    Come by and get an idea of the situation on our planet!

    Here you can find some additional information about the youth project “Planet calling SOS” (Link:

  3. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part I Consumption

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    It has almost been three years since the real world lab project Urban Transition Lab 131 was launched under the umbrella of the framework project District Future – Urban Lab. Under the promotional initiative BaWÜ-Labs of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and Culture and with the aim to prove new models for the cooperation between science and society, the Urban Translation Lab 131 started its journey towards a (more) sustainable urban development.

    An article by Vanessa Kügler. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    The next four articles on our Blog will focus on the experiences of the Urban Transition Lab 131- topics:

    Sustainable consumption – Mobility – Social Affairs and Space – Energy

    These topics are based on the wishes of the citizens who took part at the citizens’ forum “Sustainable Oststadt – Future made by citizens” of the District Future and at the same time form the central elements of the research that is done by the Urban Transition Lab 131. Thereby the real world lab is inseparably interwoven with the ones who are directly affected: the citizens.


    Part I: Consuming in a sustainable matter is possible – even in the city. The Oststadt shows how it works!

    Our blog series starts with the topic “Sustainable Consumption”. Relating to it, what has happened in the Oststadt? What are (more) sustainable forms of consumption and how can these be integrated in the urban quarter and the everyday life of the citizens?

    Consumption has an effect – on the world we are part of, the world that surrounds us, the world to come, and ourselves. We want to contribute to a conscious, sustainable, and regional consumption and revive cultural skills like barter and repair.”

    (Goal of the key topic Sustainable Consumption)

    Consumption is a topic that has accompanied the District Future for a while, even before the Urban Transition Lab 131 was about to start. The initiation of the Repair Café in 2013 was the start of activities that questioned the throwaway culture and presented a counter model. In the meantime, the RepairCafé Karlsruhe has become an independent association. We are very happy about this development and proud about our role as a driving force!

    Furthermore, evening events were organized and gave the opportunity to discuss about special topics like for example local food in the city.

    These consumption-critical events were integrated in the Urban Transition Lab 131-project “Sustainable Consumption”. Since 2016 further practical components were added – with the aim to jointly test alternative forms of consumption in the Oststadt.


    KonsumCafé: where acting differently is fun – the SustainabilityExperiments are also taking part

    To provide a framework for those activities of the Urban Transition Lab that concentrate on sustainable consumption, we initiated the format “KonsumCafé” (Consumption Café). Regular events of this format are the swap party for clothes (“Kleidertauschparty”) and the “Pflanzentauschbörse” where people have the opportunity to swap plants and seeds. These events are already fixed components of the life in the quarter. There are also single activities like lectures and workshops (e.g. Ökodorf meets District Future or the District Future- regulars’ table with the topic Consumption at Christmas) have become established features. With these events we want to show that acting and consuming sustainably is fun and gives motivation.

    During the events of the KonsumCafé the visitors also get background information on textile industry, conditions of production in the clothing industry or seed sovereignty. KonsumCafé-events give the opportunity to share ideas about how everyone can change something.

    Two “SustainabilityExperiments” are directly or indirectly dealing with the topic consumption: The secondhand-label “Second Future” and the urban gardening-experiment “Beete und Bienen” (Beds and Bees). A nice effect: Events of the KonsumCafé and the SustainabilityExperiments got together to achieve common goals. The best example therefor is the cooperation between the swap party for clothes and “Second Future” – a wonderful addition, as we think!

    The different event- and participation-formats are therefore essential components and platforms for knowledge exchange and new forms of collaboration.

    Knowledge is power- and helps along!

    The join-in offers are only one part of the Urban Transition Lab 131- activities: another important element is communication and information about the project’s main topics. The medium we use for this is our blog, on which we regularly write about topics concerning consumption and alternatives. Our website is an important tool to provide knowledge about sustainable consumption patterns in the quarter and beyond. We have already published several articles about these topics.

    These are among other things:

    Are you curious? Click here to get to the overview of the published articles (in German).

    A real world lab – why is that?

    Within the Urban Transition Lab 131 various approaches and ideas for a (more) sustainable way of life in the city emerged. Some have been implemented and are now partly carried out by the citizens themselves.

    For the experiments, the topic sustainable consumption is very tangible, because it appears and confronts us in our everyday life. It is especially suitable for taking a closer look, questioning structures and habits and to try out new things.

    An example for a sustainable approach that is trendy right now is “sharing and swapping instead of possessing and throwing away”. A return to neighbourly self-help and learning from each other are an attractive counter model to the increasing anonymity in the city. Increasing awareness for sustainable consumption pattern becomes apparent. This is reflected, for example, in the increasing number of alternative living and supply concepts which are based on sharing-approaches.

    The real world lab has become established as space for experience and exchange. Especially the “Zukunftsraum” (Future Space) serves as a place where these topics are collectively discussed and where corresponding action alternatives get discovered. Such an exchange helps to develop a stronger awareness about one’s own consumer behaviour and related consumption patterns that were “learnt” from society. An incentive to start thinking outside the box and to do this is an exploratory way, without a lot of planning and with an eye to the quarter and the people living in it.

    The project duration of the Urban Transition Lab 131 ended with the end of 2017, but we already know: The Future Space and District Future continue to exist!

    So we are open for new ideas about the topic consumption and also in 2018 we are searching for people who want to get active. The KonsumCafé will still be one main emphasis of our work and it will start concentrating on the topic climate protection.

    If you have any questions or ideas for your own project on the topic sustainable consumption, visit us at the Future Space or send us a message to:

  4. Bye bye plastic bottles – Karlsruhe’s Future Space becomes part of the “Refill” campaign

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    From now on the Future Space for sustainability and science (Zukunftsraum) in Karlsruhe – Oststadt is an official “Refill” station and part of the German “Refill” movement. With the slogan “Avoid plastic waste / Drink tap water / Refill your water bottle”, the campaign draws attention to our society’s vast use of plastic and the  environmental pollution resulting from it. Moreover, the initiative wants to show that environmentally friendly alternatives do exist. The solution is simple: waste prevention.

    Some shops, pharmacies, cafes or offices already participate. And now also the “Future Space” supports this new label: A small sticker at doors or windows indicates that thirsty passers-by can refill their water bottles with tap water for free. Refilling instead of buying bottled water is the simple and yet effective approach to reduce plastic waste. But why?

    The problem of producing plastic waste

    In (too) many cases plastic waste is not properly disposed of but released into the environment endangering our nature. It is a vicious circle: First it is dropped in the streets, later the wind blows it into rivers, from where it easily gets into the sea. The environmental pollution reached a new all-time high. In 2015, plastic consumption in Western European countries amounted to 136 kg per head, while in 1980 it was only 40 kilograms (see Statista). The German environmental organisation “Deutsche Umwelthilfe” states that the number of plastic bottles sold in Germany each day (!) amounts to 46 million. In many – for example Asian – countries, infrastructures for waste recycling are still missing. As a result, a large number of plastic waste ends up in the ocean – which causes numerous negative effects. We all know about dramatic pictures of garbage paths in the sea, rubbish-strewn beaches and birds that are perishing, because of mistaking plastic particles for food.
    Microorganisms are not able to degrade plastics completely. The particles become smaller, but never decompose: The remnants are called microplastic. According to the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), one plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose. Just to let you know: Banana peels and paper bags only need approximately six weeks for the same process…

    Plastic waste is everywhere – and harmful for humans and the environment

    The visible amount of waste represents a very small part of the refuse problem only. The microplastics settle in the ecosystems – for example in sediments. In this way, they also reach the deep sea – which is inaccessible to humans. Sea animals such as seashells or plankton consume the microplastics via food and accumulate the particles in their muscles and organs. Through the food chain, the plastic enters the human body. However, its impacts on the health of humans and animals are not fully known yet.
    Moreover, plastic particles are often extremely small and light causing them to be scattered widely in the ocean. Melanie Bergman, biologist and scientist in the field of deep sea research at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Marine and Polar Research, recently called the deep sea a final repository for plastics. According to her, all parts of the sea are already affected by this problem. Large amounts of plastic can be found in the deep sea, the Antarctic, the Arctic and on remote islands. This was currently confirmed by a team of researchers – led by the British Polar Researcher Pen Hadow – which returned from its exhibition to the Arctic. Bergmann estimates the amount of plastic which can be found in the deep sea as a hundred to a thousand times higher than the amount that is visible on the water surface.
    The German organisation for environment and nature conservation (BUND) has also pointed out that some of the harmful additives, like plasticizers, stabilizers or flame retardants are not permanently bound to the plastics and can be gradually released into the environment and the human body.

    Plastic fasting – Let’s start with the water bottle!

    So what are we supposed to do? The “Refill” campaign promotes a (more) plastic-free lifestyle and starts at an essential point: drinking water – our most important daily product. In Germany, tap water is equal to drinking water. So, basically you can get water everywhere, right out of the tap. Why do we need plastic bottles then? You can easily contribute to the reduction of plastic waste every day – just by giving up buying water in plastic bottles and saying yes to the tap. Precycling is a trend. In this spirit: come and try some tap water in the Future Space – the door is wide open for anyone who is thirsty!


    Further Links

    Refill Germany

    BUND – Tips to avoid plastic waste is everyday life – Avoiding plastic: 30 tips for everyday

    BUND – Shopping guide microplastics

  5. We and our things. From consumers to users of our products?

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    Each person living in Europe owns an average of 10 000 items – a figure set to increase. Antje Di Foglio of the District Future team is product designer and has been exploring the aging of things for years. She has a sustainable vision: Let us turn back into users of our products.

    During his first week in kindergarten without his mom, little Jonas takes his cuddly toy with him. Grandpa Karl flatly refuses to trash the old, tatty carpet in the hallway. The things and we – there is definitely something between us, some sort of relationship, a connection, some flying sparks.

    If we and our things have a common history: The owner of this polar bear is 25 years old. Picture: Antje Di Foglio.

    In fact the things that surround us are more than mere objects of utility. The wardrobe in the bedroom, my jeans, the walls in my parents’ house, the little wall in the garden: Our things are points of identity and key elements in our world and help us to position ourselves. Who am I and where am I at the moment? We can express ourselves with their help and have something to hold on to. But what do we do if the number of things in our life is ever increasing? And we replace, substitute, and dump them more and more rapidly to buy new ones? What does this do to us and our world?

    In fact the things that surround us are more than mere objects of utility. The wardrobe in the bedroom, my jeans, the walls in my parents’ house, the little wall in the garden: Our things are points of identity and key elements in our world and help us to position ourselves. Who am I and where am I at the moment? We can express ourselves with their help and have something to hold on to. But what do we do if the number of things in our life is ever increasing? And we replace, substitute, and dump them more and more rapidly to buy new ones? What does this do to us and our world?

    Things are manufactured to be consumed

    “Today, things are manufactured to be consumed”, states Antje, who studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. While traditional materials like wood, metal, china, leather, and linen age with dignity and can outlive generations, most of the materials used today would only become shabby and damaged over the years. Shirts made of polyacrylics, sideboards made of pressboard, the sofa made of faux leather: “These materials do not age. They fall apart.”

    This is, according to Antje, not only due to an economic system which relies on “planned obsolescence”, i.e. the built-in defects of products. It is also a Western concept of esthetics which we have all taken in by now. “This is the Hellenistic view of the world in whose tradition we are rooted and are familiar with”, she explains. “Everything is about perfection and youth! Today, products should be beautiful, shiny, immaculate. It is about personal optimization by ‘doing more’ and ‘buying more’.” Beautiful means new. And what is not new can go.

    Wabi-sabi instead of everything new

    In Japan, Antje discovered an alternative way of seeing things, a theory of esthetics, a philosophy: It is called “wabi-sabi” and includes the aging, the imperfect, incomplete and ephemeral, discovers the beauty within. A wooden flooring with deep scratches due to decades of use by a family. A jacket which was elaborately, but still obviously mended. A broken china plate, which was put together using liquid gold.

    Impermanence in gold: the Japanese technique of Kintsugi. Picture: Wikipedia

    “Wabi-sabi is about honesty and authenticity”, says Antje. Things are allowed to tell their story. They can show that they are in use, being needed, and live together with their people.

    “The poor elves of Yiwu”

    Fact is: During the last century we have lost our connection to things by distinguishing between manufacture and consumption of products, between craftspeople, workers, and buyers. A global phenomenon, which turned low-wage countries into the Western world’s textile factory and workbench. One example are the Christmas villages in the Chinese city of Yiwu which gained a weird sort of fame. Two-thirds of all Christmas decorations are manufactured there. Without even knowing what they actually produce, the migrant workers there work by the piece for a pittance; the German newspaper FAZ once called them the “poor elves of Yiwu”. And published pictures of the Chinese photographer Chen Ronghui who shot a father and his son at work – standing in red paint and chemicals, their heads only poorly protected by Santa hats.

    Almost all Santa hats like this one are produced in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

    Is Yiwu everywhere? Probably it can be seen as a symbol for our unrelatedness to our things. And this venomed, Far Eastern Christmas idyll quite plainly shows the impacts of this disconnection: People and the environment are being exploited for products which did not come to stay. Year after year they end up on the scrapheap. Year after year we buy them anew.

    From consumers to users?

    But: What can the consumers do? And which potential for change is implied in the self-understanding of the manufacturers? Anyhow, for Antje both sides are responsible – and she believes that change is possible. “We, the designers, act in a complex and ramified area of conflict and bear a huge social and moral responsibility from which we should not escape, are not allowed to escape. We designers work for the people and on relationships, our esthetic order of things keeps them grounded in a chaotic world. Products have to become more sustainable, more ecological, and more humane. There must not be design just for the sake of design.” What would happen if we would treat the things with respect again, honor and respect the work and care of the manufacturers? If we surround ourselves with things that are allowed to age and live with us – wouldn’t we realize that we do not need so many new things?

    “‘Which are the things I like to live with? Which are the things I am related with?’ we could ask ourselves”, says Antje. “If we shop like this, we are also more likely to consume things which are more appreciated and loved and with which we want to live for a long time.” More and more consumers are, according to Antje, looking for the real, the true, for authenticity and meaning. “We are running short of resources, in a few decades the oilfields will be drained. A new understanding of the consumer will emerge. Maybe we could put it like this: We have to move on from consumers to users of our things.”“

    Antje Di Foglio studied product design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. Her thesis “Spuren der Zeit” (The marks of time) dealt with the relationships and emotions into which people enter with their products – and their meaning for culture and society. A bound copy of her work is on display in the Future Space – come and have a look!
    As a member of District Future, Antje wants to show the people and citizens how small steps can actively make a change for ourselves and others and change our consumer behavior. Because we are sure: Buying has an effect – on the world we are part of, the world that surrounds us, the world to come, and ourselves. In the new year, we want to contribute to a conscious, sustainable, and more regional consumption and revive cultural skills like barter and repair. Together with you we would like to think about the way sustainable consumption could look like in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. We will keep you informed on our website, Facebook & Twitter!

  6. TATuP thematic focus on real world labs is looking at a new form of research

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    An article by Richard Beecroft & Alexandra Quint

    District Future is – from the scientific perspective – a real world lab. But what does this mean? This question is answered in the current issue of TATuP – the ITAS journal on technology assessment with its thematic focus on real world labs. It is now available online and provides orientation on the current real world lab research in Germany. It also reports about District Future. Click! And start reading!

    What is a real world lab? How do real world labs work? Who can join them and how does successful participation look like? Are there other real world labs like District Future? These and other questions are addressed in the recent TATuP issue with its thematic focus on real world labs. TATuP is a scientific journal on technology assessment published by ITAS. The current issue is now available online and free of charge.

    Real world labs are a young form of research. They aim at intensifying the collaboration between science and civil society towards a sustainable development by carrying out analyses and experiments and gaining insights together. Not an easy task – for both sides. Therefore it is worth taking a closer look at the different experiences gained by the first real world labs in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany and elsewhere. Some of them are portrayed in the thematic focus “Reallabore als Orte der Nachhaltigkeitsforschung und Transformation” (Real world labs as places of sustainability research and transformation).

    What is it about?

    As an introduction to this rather unwieldy topic, the editors outline the experiences on which the development of real world labs was based and what is so special about them. Of course there has been research before which dealt with real problems of everyday life and included citizens in different ways. There has also been long-established research oriented along large ethical concepts like sustainable development. However, many of these approaches only focused on a narrow topic and were only short-lived: individual case studies which were not able to provide the framework for larger transformations. Here real world labs are meant to step in. They should find out if and how this could be possible. Since the concept of real world labs is so new, many key terms have to be defined first. Real world lab research ties in with many different sciences, therefore the corresponding muddle of terms can be quite large. In order to contribute to an improvement here, the second article describes its key terms in a glossary (de).

    First real world labs in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

    Several real world labs are also discussed in the thematic focus. It is no coincidence that the following examples are all taken from Baden- Württemberg – they were all initiated by a funding initiative of the federal state. While the seven real world labs of the first round are based on similar methodologies, the selected topics are very different.

    Freiburg’s real world lab Knowledge Dialogue Northern Black Forest (de) accompanies the establishment of the Black Forest National Park. A number of conflicts emerged in that region in the wake of its establishment, some of which still exist. The real world lab is therefore looking for potentials for the sustainable development of the region. In parallel, it also analyzes ecological processes in the new national park. In the article we also learn about the special framework conditions that rural areas provide for real world lab research which usually takes place in the cities.

    The Urban Office Heidelberg (de) has a theoretical starting point: the concept of knowledge society. Several case studies in Heidelberg analyze its relevance for urban development. It is interesting to see that the real world lab Urban Office has to examine itself as a “place of knowledge” in the area under investigation – it is its own experiment.

    The Tübingen Energy Lab (de) is looking at the energy transition in Tübingen. The text exemplifies its experiences with the educational opportunities in the real world lab which are otherwise hardly discussed in real world lab research. The example of the Children’s University of Tübingen does not only introduce the different aspects of education for sustainable development. It also ties in methodologically with real world lab work. This makes it clear that real world labs are also places of learning. The authors also raise the question how children can and should be included in real world lab research.

    And despite all the differences of today’s real world labs, there are also significant commonalities: large efforts for the establishment of the real world lab’s infrastructure, high flexibility requirements on the lab to meet a changing “reality”, but also to pick up the results of the learning processes gone through. In addition, there are often problems regarding the time intervals for research, teaching, urban and spatial planning, and the dynamics of civic initiatives. And finally disciplinary science can be irritated by the new and transdisciplinarily oriented research format real world lab. However, it is important to reach those scientists only working within their disciplines and win them over for real world lab processes. This is the only way to advertise and spread this new form of research. However, there are also inspiring and encouraging experiences, like the insight that the educational aspect of real world labs has an enormous potential, that transformation processes can indeed be started, and that results are achieved in the small framework of real world labs that can have a large impact on society.

    Where is real world lab research heading?

    The first real world labs are an experiment that is thoroughly researched itself. At the end, some of the accompanying researchers formulate in provisional theses how real world lab research has to be set up in the future. They see a large potential for this new format to bring together science, civil society, and other partners for a fruitful co-operation. But efforts have to be made on both sides to open up the ivory tower of science. Scientists have to learn how to think through their work from the practical perspective again. And citizens have to get into the peculiarities of science which can still make a large contribution to the work on societal problems. So why not make a start with this journal? All the articles of the TATuP thematic focus on real world labs are freely accessible: (de)

  7. Baden-Württemberg funds “Urban Transition Lab” in Karlsruhe

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    The Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts of the state of Baden-Württemberg will fund the “Reallabor 131 – KIT findet Stadt” (“Urban Transition Lab 131”) from 2015 onwards for a period of three years. The Urban Transition Lab 131 is embedded in the project “District Future—Urban Lab” to extend its research activities in cooperation with several other KIT departments and institutions.

    The overall objective of the urban transition lab is to establish a link in thinking and working on knowledge, innovation, and urban development in a transdisciplinary process. The KIT Center Humans and Technology was mainly responsible for the application of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for the Urban Transition Lab 131. Funding is expected to start in January 2015.

    Urban Transition Lab 131 in the District Future project

    The spectrum of Urban Transition Lab 131 topics ranges from livable mobility and circular economy, social environment and neighborhood, climate and energy to health and demographic development. The core of the project is to initiate and implement several projects for sustainable neighborhood development and support them with corresponding research activities. These projects will be defined and carried out in a cooperative and participatory way. The participation process BürgerForum Nachhaltige Oststadt | Zukunft aus Bürgerhand which is currently on its way offers the opportunity to generate ideas and bring together partners for these projects already. A sustainability science shop will be the focal point of the urban transition lab, serving as a communication center, a location for events and as a working space for project teams.

    What is an urban transition lab?

    An urban transition lab is a concept of transdisciplinary research. Within the context of a transition lab researchers step into societally meaningful and real change processes, e.g. the sustainable development of an urban quarter like Karlsruhe-Oststadt or the implementation of a new regional energy system.

    “Transition labs help to better understand and design societal change processes and to measure their impacts. They offer network and cooperation structures between universities and non-university research institutions as well as between the economy, politics, administration, and civil society stakeholders”, states the Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts.

    Within the context of the current round of the program “Strengthening the contribution of science for a sustainable development” the state of Baden-Württemberg supports seven transition labs with a total budget of seven million Euros from 2015 on.

    Related Links

    Press release of the Ministry (German) 

    Website KIT Center Humans and Technology 

  8. District Future takes a time out

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    Deceleration! The District Future takes a time out. The project team makes time for recreation and reflexion between Februar 24th until March 16th 2014. We will be back at March 17th. See you soon!


  9. District Future starts in Karlsruhe Oststadt

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    It’s official now: The District Future project starts in the Oststadt of Karlsruhe. In the coming years, the existing district will be developed further towards sustainability in social, ecological, economic, and cultural terms. Together with the population, city administration, politics, industry, persons engaged in the cultural sector, and other actors of the urban society, old and new ideas as well as societal and technical innovations will be tried out in a number of projects. A series of kickoff events started in November 2013.


    “The decisive feature of the District Future project is the active participation of the public in the project area,” says project leader Dr. Oliver Parodi of ITAS. “Sustainability affects everybody and, ultimately, can succeed only in a common effort. Citizens, groups, artists and scientists, companies and associations: We warmly welcome everybody who is willing to contribute to a sustainable development of the city’s Oststadt and seeks to contact us.” The objective is to generate impulses in order to advance the sustainability development of the Oststadt in a long-term and cautious process. The intention is to establish structures which support to continue this development even after the official end of the project term.

    “Karlsruhe’s Oststadt offers ideal preconditions for this project: The urban district enjoys a great variety in socio-cultural, functional and architectural respects, a traditional dense network of local stakeholders, open-mindedness of the population, and proximity to the KIT, all of which constitutes an excellent breeding ground for new, sustainable urban development,” Parodi explains. This was a prerequisite for the District Future project to gain model character – for other districts of Karlsruhe, but also for other, especially European, cities. The project area was chosen on the basis of a thorough scientific analysis.

    The District Future project is also associated with the wish to bring science closer to the people – and vice versa. In Feburary 2014, there will a citizen meeting. Citizens then will have the opportunity to enter into an active dialog about future urban development and to address own ideas and activities for the Oststadt.
    2014 also will be the year to start first project activities in the project area. These could be activities in climate protection, recycle economy, health, education, energy supply, and projects, such as autonomous living for the elderly, neighborhood kitchens, an organic and regional evening market for the working population, a science shop, fast lanes for bikers, multi-generation houses, sidewalks and road pavements equipped with sensors, a center for subsequent use of empty urban space, street libraries. Specific projects could also be located in the urban space adjacent to the Oststadt.

    Information to the Citizens

    In recent months, some preliminary talks have been arranged with local stakeholders from industry, society, culture, and sports. Others will follow. On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, the approximately 7000 households in the project area received an information letter explaining the project and presenting the kickoff events in the winter of 2013 and the spring of 2014. The dialogue between the project team and the public is in the focus of all these events.

    Kickoff Events Launching the “District Future” Project:

    • RepairCafé

    Saturday, November 30, 2013, 4 – 8 p.m.
    Kinder- und Jugendhaus (Rintheimerstr. 47, 76131 Karlsruhe)

    This is an active contribution to resource conservation and against throwing away objects still fit for use: At the RepairCafé, participants can repair damaged household objects, such as small furniture items, bicycles and radios, or get advice on how to do the job. The team responsible for the District Future is supported by these projects: FabLab Karlsruhe, Transition Town Karlsruhe – Karlsruhe im Wandel, KonsumGlobal Karlsruhe, Gemeinwohl Ökonomie Karlsruhe, and many other groups committed to these endeavors.

    • District Future on Its Way!

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 12 noon – 6 p.m.

    Streets and squares in Karlsruhe Oststadt, including Tulla-Schule, Karl-Wilhelm-Platz, Alter Schlachthof

    The District Future Mobile can be found in the streets and squares of the Karlsruhe Oststadt: The District Future team invites people to exchange ideas about the sustainable development of Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. The Mobile can be found at the Tulla-Schule, the Karl-Wilhelm-Platz, and on the premises of the old slaughterhouse (Alter Schlachthof), among other places.

    • Citizen Meeting: Oststadt Perspective – Designing the District Future

    Sunday, February 9, 2014 I 12 noon – 7 p.m.

    Lichthof, BGV Versicherung, Durlacher Allee 56, 76131 Karlsruhe

    This is where dialog comes in: The District Future team presents the project and looks forward to your questions, criticism, and suggestions. There will be workshops for participants to introduce their ideas about sustainable urban life. Possible schemes for cooperation will be explored in an offer-request type of market. A cultural program will accompany the citizen meeting.

    • Debate: “Which kind of mobility do we need for the Oststadt’s future?

    Thursday, March 20, 2014, 6 – 8 p.m.

    alina café, Alter Schlachthof 39, 76131 Karlsruhe

    This is an entertaining event for exchanging perspectives and visions, from scientific to personal about future urban mobility, among invited participants and committed persons from the region.

    Further information

    Find pictures of the RepairCafé in the gallery.

    The program of the Citizen Meeting: Oststadt Perspective – Designing the District Future can be found here (German).

  10. World Clean up Day 2013 in Karlsruhe

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    World Cleanup Day 2013 in Karlsruhe: The District Future Urban Lab cleans up!

    On 21th September the World Cleanup Day 2013 takes place in Karlsruhe. It is the first time that the District Future cooperates with the initiator Bürgeraktion Sauberes Karlsruhe together with Karlsruhe Amt für Abfallwirtschaft and Karlsruhe city council. We warmly invite you to join the team between 9-17 on the Ludwigsplatz and making the city a better and cleaner place together. Let’s do it!

    Located on the Ludwigsplatz there will be an information stand for the Karlsruhe World Cleanup Day 2013. It offers both information about the necessary cleanliness of the city and ways we can contribute to it, as well as practical tools like gripping tongs and garbage bags for volunteers who want to participate hands-on. The District Future team cleans up, shares information about the project and discusses sustainable solutions to garbage-related problems.

    The World Cleanup Day 2013 belongs to the global network Let’s do it! World Cleanup. Since 2008 volunteer from more than 100 countries have been active in order to clean up our environment. From Germany citizen groups from Munich, Bochum, Leipzig, Hamburg, Berlin and Karlsruhe participated.


    World Cleanup Day 2013 in Karlsruhe, initiated by Bürgeraktion Sauberes Karlsruhe in cooperation with the District Future – Urban Lab

    Date & time: Saturday, 21th September 2013, 9.00 – 17.00

    Place: Karlsruhe city center, Ludwigsplatz-Waldstraße

    Further Information

    Let’s do it! World Cleanup Germany

    Let’s do it! World Cleanup

    Bürgeraktion Sauberes Karlsruhe (german)

    Facebook event (german)



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