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Projects and ongoing research


  • Building and Researching Resilience in the Environmental Humanities.
    Project Manager
    Fünfgeld H
    Start/End of Project
    01.10.2020 until 30.09.2021
    Description
    The “Environmental Humanities” is a new buzzword being used to signal the effort of the traditional humanities to seek new ways to unite and collaborate in a time when the natural sciences have taken the lead in fighting the global ecological crisis. This research focus has a twofold goal: first, we will assess the humanities’ chances of becoming resilient against the threats they are facing due to the changes in academic values and university policies since the dawn of the 21st century. Convinced that their chances lie in interdisciplinary collaboration with the environmental sciences, we will explore in which ways this collaboration can be strengthened. Second, believing that resilience research is one of the fields in which such collaboration can be most fruitful, our research projects tackle the challenges of resilience from different disciplinary angles and at the same time test interdisciplinary approaches. Since spreading from ecology to sociology and psychology, the concept of resilience has only been discovered by a few humanities fields; however, the concept holds promise for other humanities as well, as it facilitates debates about the ability of individual and collective capacities to persist.
    Contact Person
    Fünfgeld H
    Email: hartmut.fuenfgeld@geographie.uni-freiburg.de
    Financing
    Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies
  • Local capacity development for climate change adaptation in small and medium-sized municipalities and districts
    Project Manager
    Fünfgeld H, Lorenz S, Fila D (Team)
    Start/End of Project
    01.01.2020 until 31.12.2022
    Description
    Municipalities and districts (“Landkreise”) in Baden-Württemberg are increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change. Severe damage caused by heavy rain, floods, heat waves and droughts, such as those in 2018, testify to this development and the increasing relevance of climate change adaptation. While climate change adaptation is increasingly integrated into administrative structures and processes in large cities, small and medium-sized municipalities usually do not have the necessary capacity or resources to tackle the effects of climate change with strategically-oriented, yet at the same time efficient adaptation planning and decision-making processes. The aim of the project is to support municipal institutions and actors in the planning and implementation of locally-specific adaptation processes. For this purpose, practical instruments for tangible development and expansion of competencies and capacities for adaptation to climate change will be developed, specifically focusing on the needs of small and medium-sized municipalities and districts in the state of Baden-Württemberg. In this way, municipal institutions and actors will be supported and enabled in the planning and implementation of local-specific adaptation processes – especially those operating in a small and medium sized municipal context.
    Contact Person
    Stefanie Lorenz
    Phone: +49(0)177 158-4913
    Email: stefanie.lorenz@geographie.uni-freiburg.de
    Financing
    Deutsche Anpassungsstrategie (DAS) über das BMU, Beteiligte Projektpartner (Kommunen und Landkreise)
  • Geographies of resettlement in the context of multi-scale global environmental change and degradation processes – a case study of coastal resettlement in the Volta River Delta in Ghana
    Project Manager
    Fünfgeld H, Neu F (Team)
    Start/End of Project
    01.12.2019 until 30.11.2022
    Description
    During the last five decades, state-led resettlement has accompanied many construction projects of dams – especially in the Global South – and has been framed as a side effect that needs to be accepted in order to foster development (see Rogers/Wilmsen 2019). However, resettlement is nowadays increasingly taking place in response to extreme weather events that become more frequent and intense, also due to climate change (see e.g. Arnall 2014). On a global level, low-lying coastal regions which often have a high population density and are threatened by flooding and coastal erosion due to global sea level rise are particularly vulnerable. For instance, in some areas of the Volta River Delta in southeast Ghana, the coastline has been shifted inland by up to three kilometers, an incremental process that was triggered by a combination of rising sea levels and sediments of the Volta River being retained by the Akosombo Dam. As a result, entire villages literally were swallowed by the erosion processes of the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, from 2017 onwards, state institutions set up a resettlement village for several hundreds of affected households on a piece of reclaimed land in the lagoon of Keta, east of the mouth of the Volta River. Unsatisfyingly, resettlement so far has been scientifically examined mostly in the context of dam projects and not so much against the background of climate change. In addition, those studies often aimed at optimizing the resettlement process without questioning resettlement and the logics behind in the first place. Thence, Rogers and Wilmsen (2019) called for a critical geography of resettlement, i.e. studies in the field of geography that critically and profoundly examine resettlement projects. The research project will make a contribution to this new field of research and therefore analyzes the Ghanaian example described above as part of a case study. Abstracted from the case study, it deals with geographies of resettlement in the context of multi-scale processes of environmental change and degradation, which are examined from the standpoint of political ecology. The corresponding analytical framework is based on theories of power (e.g. Foucault), violence (e.g. Watts, Nixon) and justice (e.g. Rawls, Sen). The research project focuses on three key elements within the resettlement processes: actors, power and interests. Buildung on this, three research questions are pursued: 1) How did different actors use their respective power to shape the resettlement process in a way that serves their own or others’ interests? 2) How was resettlement legitimized and by whom? 3) Which social, political and economic effects on resettled people can be identified and to what extent can they be linked to certain resettlement practices applied? As part of the research project, several phases of field research are be necessary to collect primary data in the Volta River Delta. The methodological toolbox used during these stages contains qualitative and ethnographic research methods of geography.
    Contact Person
    Friedrich Neu
    Phone: +49(0)761 203-54233
    Email: friedrich.neu@geographie.uni-freiburg.de
    Financing
    DAAD (Feldforschung)