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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.




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, 

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!

December 16, 2018

There is a new article of our team members:

Lang, S., Blum, M., & Leipold, S. (2018). What future for the voluntary carbon offset market after Paris? An explorative study based on the Discursive Agency Approach. Climate Policy, 1-13

December 8, 2018

An inspiring paper applies the Discursive Agency Approach to Finnish peatland conservation. Findings show the important role of biodiversity, regulation, conservation and participation discourses to govern peatland in Finland.

November 20, 2018

Sina Leipold & Julia Schwanholz from the University of Göttingen are hosting a panel on »the Governance of Circular and Sharing Economies« at the U4-Cluster Conference of Social Sciences, Economics, and Law - Nov 21-23, 2018 at the University of Göttingen.

October 24, 2018

Anna Petit-Boix, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Circulus Research Group debates with other experts on the pros and cons of a Circular Economy in local settings at the Local Renewables Conference in Freiburg. 

October 21, 2018

The Chair of Societal Transition and Circular Economy organizes the Seminar “Healthy Research Environments in Sustainability Science” together with the Chair of Industrial Ecology as part of the Freiburg Talks on Environment and Society. Come and discuss with us on October 31, 3.30-5 PM, Room 100, Tennenbacherstr. 4.

August 21, 2018

A new article by team members analyses what EU businesses from bio-based industries think about the circular economy and what innovation spaces are there. Results suggest a need for more engagement with business practice.

** OPEN ACCESS** Leipold, S., & Petit-Boix, A. (2018). The circular economy and the bio-based sector-Perspectives of European and German stakeholders. Journal of Cleaner Production, 201, 1125-1137.

July 27, 2018

Wie kann die #Wirtschaft #nachhaltiger werden? SinaLeipold nimmt dafür Debatten zu relevanten Bioökonomie-Themen wie Kreislaufwirtschaft unter die Lupe, um Denk- und  Handlungsoptionen aufzuzeigen. Interview mit Bioö

July 1, 2018

Sina Leipold & Julia Schwanholz from the University of Göttingen are hosting a panel on »Governance for a Sustainable Economy« at the 25th World Congress of Political Science, July 21-25, 2018 | Brisbane, Australia.

Join us for discussing ground breaking work on Sustainability Governance:

June 10, 2018

There are new articles of our team members:

Petit-Boix, A.; Apul, D. (2018) From Cascade to Bottom-Up Ecosystem Services Model: How Does Social Cohesion Emerge from Urban Agriculture? Sustainability, 10, 998.


** OPEN ACCESS** Petit-Boix A, Leipold S (2018) Circular economy in cities: Reviewing how environmental research aligns with local practices, Journal of Cleaner Production, online first.


June 9, 2018

Sina Leipold participated an inspiring 2-day “Fast Track” training and networking meeting of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

June 7, 2018

The Circulus project welcomes Prof. Defne Apul to its advisory committee. We thank her for the magnificent advice and support, particularly to Anna Petit-Boix, and look forward to the collaboration. 

June 6, 2018

The Societal Transition Group presents the Circulus Project to peers and funders at the initial meeting of the funding scheme "Bioökonomie als gesellschaftlicher Wandel"

June 4, 2018

Sina Leipold returning from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies with tons of new ideas and data analysis packages.

June 1, 2018

Illuminating foundations of thought and action for a sustainable economy. Interview with Bioö on the work of the Societal Transition Group on Political Discourses of the Circular Economy and the Bioeconomy (in German).

May 20 - 25, 2018

Hanna Helander presented the results of her recent study at Gordon Research Conference on Industrial Ecology in Les Diablerets, Switzerland.

May 13 - 17, 2018

Hanna Helander and Anna Petit-Boix presented two recent studies at the SETAC Europe 28th Annual Meeting in Rome, Italy.

April 16, 2018

The Circulus project welcomes two new members to its advisory committee, Prof. Thomas Wiedmann and PD Dr. Rolf Meyer. We thank them for their constant commitment and invaluable advice and support.

March 28, 2018

Sina Leipold headed to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where she will pursue research with Prof. Benjamin Cashore.

March 18, 2018

Sina Leipold returned from an inspiring 4-day “Fast Track Seminar” of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, highly professional training for Women in Science.

March 16, 2018

Robert Gundlach presenting results on his current study on “Transitioning to a Circular Economy in Germany? – Key actors and positions in the current debate” at the 3rd NEST Conference “New Frontiers in Sustainability Transitions”, March 15-16, 2018, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. 

March 8 -9, 2018

The Circulus team retreats for intense discussions about the results of the practitioner workshop and the next research steps. Result: Numberless mind maps and empty cookie boxes and inspiration to go forth and embrace the challenges and opportunities of our work, equipped with renewed motivation to serve high quality science and societal development. 

March 2, 2018

Circular Economy Visions for Germany - how can they look like? Kick-off Workshop for transdisciplinary case studies engages stakeholders, including Cradle to Cradle e.V. or the Forum Ökologisch Verpacken. We thank all our partners for their tremendous input!

January 29, 2018

New course on "Sustainability Assessment and Governance" kicks off. This year, 18 students are engaging with experts from the University of Economics and Business Vienna, the University of Magdeburg and representatives of the work of UNIQUE and Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag

January 26, 2018

The popular seminar series Linking Mind and Environmental Sustainability, organized by Hendrik Stark, Christoph Pfisterer & Sina Leipold, at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources comes to an end with a closing Lecture by Thomas Bruhn from IASS Potsdam. We thank all the engaged participants and speakers bringing mindfulness and sustainable thinking to life in Freiburg. 

January 23, 2018

Prof. Walter R. Stahel spoke on "Circular Economy - Back to the Future?" in the Seminar Series "Freiburg Talks on Environment and Society" and discussed with more than 50 students, PhDs and colleagues at the Faculty.

December 11, 2017

The head of the German Bundestag awards the Deutscher Studienpreis to the winners of the price, including Sina Leipold, at the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders House in Berlin.

October 5, 2017

The fieldwork for the Circulus country analyses is starting this month. Anran Luo is conducting a first interview trip to China, attending the 2017 China International Circular Economy Exhibition in Beijing. Working on the German case, Robert Gundlach is engaging with stakeholders from policy and businesses at the 6th Resource Efficency and Circular Economy Congress in Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart and represents the project at the 2nd Cradle to Cradle Congress in Lüneburg.

October 2, 2017

We are now collaborating with the Journal of Industrial Ecology! Dr. Anna Petit Boix is engaged with the Journal since 2015 by translating abstracts! Keep track of the newest publications at

September 23, 2017

First Results of the Circulus Project presented at IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress. Sina Leipold presented results on the Circular Economy and the European Bio-based Sector at the Session "Marketing and Business Practices of the Bioeconomy"

June 25, 2017

Sina Leipold is awarded the second price at the Deutscher Studienpreis for her dissertation analyzing novel regulation in international wood (products) trade. The price is awarded by the Körber Stiftung and one of the most generously supported awards for young researchers in Germany. Read more about Sina's research in a recent interview.

June 15, 2017

The Societal Transition Group welcomes its new team member Dr. Anna Petit Boix. We are happy to have her with us and look forward to working together.

June 2, 2017

From a pool of 430 applicants, Sina Leipold has been nominated one of the 30 candidates for this year's Deutscher Studienpreis. More information about the award and this year's nominees. 

May 24, 2017

Matthias Braeunig speaks on "A Cybernetic Approach to 'the Environment'" in the Seminar Series "Linking Mind and Environmental Sustainability" 

May 17, 2017

Minh Tam Luong and Sarah Gouda speaks on "What can mindfulness offer modern schools? A mixed-methods study on the effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention in school settings" in the Seminar Series "Linking Mind and Environmental Sustainability"

May 9, 2017

The Societal Transition Group presents the Circulus Project to peers and funders at the initial meeting of the funding scheme "Bioökonomie als gesellschaftlicher Wandel"

April 27, 2017
Noema Suchant speaks on "WILDERNESS - Pedagogy: How to connect with the (own) nature" in the Seminar Series "Linking Mind and Environmental Sustainability" 

April 1, 2017
The Societal Transition Group kicks off at the University of Freiburg.