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To address global environmental change, we need a deeper understanding of the ways we can regulate the interrelations of the social and biophysical world.

Team 2019

The Societal Transition Group is committed to research and teaching that provides path breaking insights into the governance of inter- and transnational resource flows and their biophysical impacts. To achieve this goal, our team draws upon strong expertise in political and social science theories and methods, complemented by environmental, and engineering science knowledge and approaches.

We apply both qualitative and quantitative research methods, focusing on selected properties on micro, meso and macro levels. The scope of our research reflects not just the complexity of governing economic activity in a global age, but the fact that the easy answers have been exhausted.

One major research focus of the group is the Circular Economy, for more information visit:

To create impact, we design and implement transformative research and teaching projects in which we work in close cooperation with policy and business. We further communicate our results through publications, lectures, and social media to develop a global network of scholars and practitioners to further sustainable development in practice.



February 27, 2020

The Chair of Societal Transition and Circular Economy hosted the Early-Career Seminar on New Sustainable Economies on November 21-22, 2019. Watch the keynote talk on 'What does science have to do with lobbying' here or read about some of our takeaways on our blog!

September 24, 2019

The  Fenner School of Environment & Society at the Australian National University invited Sina Leipold to speak about “Circular Economy for Sustainability”.

September 18, 2019

The School of Social and Political Science at the University of Sydney invited Sina Leipold to speak about “Discourses of Sustainability Transformation & the Circular Economy”.

September 13, 2019

The Chair of Societal Transition and Circular Economy is hosting a panel at the 26th World Congress of Political Science, July 25-29, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal.

“The Circular Economy as Political Programme” under RC 38 (Politics and Business)

The panel aims to initiate a structured discussion of the Circular Economy as a new economic model from a social/political/legal perspective and identify commonalities and differences across diverse perspectives and geographic locations. The panel asks for empirical studies as well as theoretical contributions, disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary work is welcome. Possible research questions include, for instance:

  • Which new socio-economic dynamics, regulatory challenges, and trade-offs emerge from subsequent changes in supply chains and production and consumption processes?
  • How do different governments, stakeholders or institutions conceptualize the circular economy?
  • What political instruments are suggested for transforming towards a circular economy?
  • How is the circular economy discussed/understood differently across municipalities/states /regions and with what effects for their local/national/global regulation?
  • What role do businesses play in governing the transformation to a circular economy?
  • What barriers and enablers do business stakeholders, scholars and policy makers (not) discuss regarding the transformation to a Circular Economy?

Please submit your abstract before October 10, 2019.

For more info, visit:

We look forward meeting you in Lisbon and discussing with you!

September 11, 2019

New team member Machteld Simoens is invited to a Parliamentary Evening in Berlin, in order to discuss how circular economy can contribute to combatting climate change.


September 11, 2019

There is a new article by our team members:

Leipold, S., Feindt, P., Winkel, G., Keller, R. (2019) Environmental Policy Discourse Analysis: Traditions, Trends and Perspectives.

The article is the introduction to the Special Issue “Discourse, power and environmental policy: Discursive policy analysis revisited.”

August 26, 2019

Sina Leipold is invited to the Center for Urban Research at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), where she speaks about “Discourses of Transformation & the Circular Economy”.

July 2, 2019

There is a new article by our team members:

Moser, C., & Leipold, S. (2019). Toward “hardened” accountability? Analyzing the European Union's hybrid transnational governance in timber and biofuel supply chains. Regulation & Governance, online first.

July 01, 2019

Article in University of Freiburg’s research magazine uni'wissen (01/2019): "Von der Feinwurzel zum Footprint." on Sina's research together with Dr. Friderike Beyer and Dr. Janina Schweier

May 22, 2019

There is a new article of our team members:

Helander, H., Petit-Boix, A., Leipold, S., Bringezu, S. (2019) How to Monitor Environmental Pressures of a Circular Economy: An Assessment of indicators, Journal of Industrial Ecology, in press.

May 15, 2019

European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service Reporting on Circulus Research:

Science for Environment Policy: Bioeconomy perceptions of the circular economy, Germany, 

April 29, 2019

Sina Leipold is invited to deliver a keynote on “Transition to a Circular Economy” at the Conference “Climate in Transition: An Interdisciplinary Interrogation of Global Environmental Change”, Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).

January 31, 2019

There is a new article of our team members:

Jarre, M., Petit-Boix, A., Meyer, R., Priefer, C., Leipold, S. (2019) Transformation towards a circular economy of wood - What can we learn from cascading? Forest Policy and Economics, in press.

January 23, 2019

What is the future of packaging in Germany? – Sina Leipold presents recent research ideas and findings to stakeholders from business, NGOs and civil society at the “Paper Saving – Packaging in Focus” Conference organized by denkhausbremen and the Environmental Paper Network (EPN):

January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

2019 s starting with good news. The Chair of Soietal Transition and Circular Economy is hosting two panels at the 4th International Conference on Public Policy on 26th to 28th June 2019 in Montreal, Canada.

  1. Panel 1: *T14P03 - The Politics of Business in Sustainability
    The panel asks for empirical studies as well as theoretical
    contributions in relation to business actors in sustainability
    governance. The goal of this panel is to bring together researchers
    from diverse disciplines and geographic locations with a common
    interest in understanding the perceptions, discourses, agency, and
    (potential) impacts of businesses in sustainability transformations.
    »Barriers and Enablers of a Transformation to a Circular Economy« together with Fred Gale & Joanna Vince
  2. Panel 2: *T09P05 - Barriers and Enablers of a Transformation to a
    Circular Economy* - in collaboration with Fred Gale & Joanna Vince (both University of Tasmania). The panel invites empirical as well as theoretical contributions in relation to the political and governance struggles over the circular economy as transformation paradigm and the resulting policy-making.


Please submit your abstract before January 30, 2019. More information
about the conference is available here:

We look forward meeting you in Montreal and discussing with you!


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