Niko Schäpke

Niko Schäpke

Senior Research Associate

Niko is a senior research associate at RIFS and an assistant professor at the Chair of Environmental Governance at the University of Freiburg. He is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a background in sustainability studies, ecological economics, and political sciences. Situated in the field of solutions-oriented sustainability science, Niko's work focuses on principles, settings and methods of transformative research.

At IASS, Niko focuses on design of institutions and organizations enabling (or restricting) transformative research. His specific interest are transdisciplinary labs (e.g. Real-world Labs), human agency and relational approaches. Niko combines theoretical-conceptual work, comparative work considering multiple cases (reviews, accompanying research) and transdisciplinary, in-depth case studies. Niko is driven by a passion to advance sustainability studies in its capacity to contribute to societal transformation towards sustainability.

  • Senior research associate at RIFS, Potsdam (since 12/2022)

  • Assistant Professor at the Institute of Environmental Social Science and Geography, University of Freiburg (since 09/2020)

  • Fellow, MISTRA Sustainable Consumption Program, The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (03/2020-08/2020)

  • Post-Doctoral Researcher for Governance of Sustainability Transformation, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden (01/2018-02/2020)

  • Doctor of philosophy in Sustainability Science (with distinction/ summa cum laude), Leuphana University Lüneburg, 7/2018

  • Research associate, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research: scientific coordinator of project ´Accompanying, systematizing and transferring research in real world laboratories´, (02/2015 -04/2018)

  • Assistant of the dean, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Faculty of Sustainability (11/2014-5/2017)

  • Research associate: Development of a further learning master´s program ´Strategic Sustainability Management´, University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde (11/2011-8/2013)

  • Freelancer: research, transfer, workshop-facilitation, author (since 2011)

  • Research associate: EU FP7 Project InContext, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) (10/2010-4/2011)

  • Graduation with a combined MSc and BSc in Environmental Studies (Leuphana University, with distinction) and combined MA and BA in Economics (Leuphana University)

  • Transdisciplinary research settings and transdisciplinary labs
  • Governance of transformations
  • Transformative knowledge systems
  • Human agency und relational approaches
  • Social and humanistic psychology
  • Sustainability transitions
  • Philosophy of sustainability science

Publications at the RIFS

Publications prior to joining the RIFS

  • McCory, G., Holmén, J., Schäpke, N., Holmber, J. (2022). Sustainability-oriented labs in transitions: An empirically grounded typology. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 43, 99-117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2022.03.004
  • Woiwode, C., Schäpke, N., Bina, O., Veciana, S., Kunze, I., Parodi, O., ... & Wamsler, C. (2021). Inner transformation to sustainability as a deep leverage point: fostering new avenues for change through dialogue and reflection. Sustainability Science, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00882-y
  • Bergmann, M., Schäpke, N., Marg, O., Stelzer, F., Lang, D. J., Bossert, M., ... & Sußmann, N. (2021). Transdisciplinary sustainability research in real-world labs: success factors and methods for change. Sustainability Science, 16(2), 541-564. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00886-8
  • Fazey, I., Schäpke, N., Caniglia, G., Hodgson, A., Kendrick, I., Lyon, C., ... & Verveen, S. (2020). Transforming knowledge systems for life on Earth: Visions of future systems and how to get there. Energy Research & Social Science, 70, 101724. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101724
  • Caniglia, G., Luederitz, C., von Wirth, T., Fazey, I., Martín-López, B., Hondrila, K., König, A., von Wehrden, H., Schäpke, N., Laubichler, M.D., Lang D.,J. (2020) A pluralistic and integrated approach to action-oriented knowledge for sustainability. Nature Sustainability, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-00616-z *McCrory, G., Schäpke, N., Holmén, J., & Holmberg, J. (2020). Sustainability-oriented labs in real-world contexts: An exploratory review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 123202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.123202 *Wamsler, C., Schäpke, N., Fraude, C., Stasiak, D., Bruhn, T., Lawrence, M., ... & Mundaca, L. (2020). Enabling new mindsets and transformative skills for negotiating and activating climate action: Lessons from UNFCCC conferences of the parties. Environmental Science & Policy, 112, 227-235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2020.06.005
  • N Schäpke, F Stelzer, M Bergmann, M Singer-Brodowski, M Wanner, G Caniglia, P Bernert, C Liedtke, D Loorbach, P Olsson, DJ Lang (2018): Jointly striving for transformation? A comparison of real world labs, urban transition labs, transformation labs, niche experiments and sustainability living labs. In: GAIA-Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 27 (S1): 85-96. https://doi.org/10.14512/gaia.27.S1.16
  • I Fazey, N Schäpke, C Caniglia, J Patterson, J Hultman, ..., Wyborn, C. (2018): Ten essentials for action-oriented and second order energy transitions,transformations and climate change research. In: Energy Research and Social Science (40): 54-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.11.026
  • C Luederitz, N Schäpke, A Wiek, DJ Lang, ..., F Westley (2017): Learning through Evaluation - A Tentative Evaluative Scheme for Sustainability Transition Experiments. In: Journal of Cleaner Production (169): 61-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.09.005
  • JM Wittmayer, N Schäpke (2014): Action, Research and Participation. Roles of Researchers in Sustainability Transitions. In: Sustainability Science. 9 (4): 483-496. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-014-0258-4
  • STRN - Sustainability Transitions Research Network
  • Transformations Community
  • Netzwerk Reallabore
  • 2022 Member of the program board Annual Conference of German Society of Real-world Labs
  • 2021 Member of program board of the International Transdisciplinarity Conference ITD
  • 2018-2019 Member of Advisory Board of SynergyTrans Project on Social Innovation and Governance, funded by Austrian Climate Funds
  • Subject-Editor for the journal ´Sustainability Science´ (since 2021)
  • Guest-Editor for the journal GAIA - special issue on Impact of Real-world labs (2022-)
  • Guest-Editor for the journal GAIA - special issue on Labs in the Real-world (2017-2018)