Co-creative processes bring together different ideas and actors to deliver mutually valued outcomes.
Co-creative processes bring together different ideas and actors to deliver mutually valued outcomes. Shutterstock/Anton Teplyakov

Headline: Co-Creation in Democratic Practice

Transformations towards sustainability call for cooperation between different interest groups. Which cooperation formats enable citizens to engage with efforts to tackle sustainability challenges in the midst of complex constellations of actors and relationships of power? This is the central research question addressed by this group.

Many of the major challenges arising as we move towards a more sustainable society, such as the coal exit and the mobility transition, cannot be properly addressed within individual policy fields or by their protagonists alone. Meanwhile, many policy processes unfold beyond the bounds of democratic decision-making, preventing affected segments of the population from having their say. Research conducted by this group investigates how cross-sectoral and citizen-oriented cooperation could contribute to transformations towards sustainability.

This research group consists of process designers and policy researchers and is distinguished by its experimental approach, which combines theory and practice to consider how citizen-oriented approaches to cooperation can engage with and influence political processes. Their analyses focus, among other things, on the complex power dynamics that come into play when unconventional forms of knowledge and work enter institutionalized policy fields. On the practical level, the research group works to develop innovative cooperation formats that enable the general public and affected actors to tackle sustainability challenges together.

Examples of these 'co-creative' formats for the development of science-based guidance for policymakers, civil society, and the public include a consultation process and the development of citizens' councils in Tempelhof-Schöneberg (Berlin), scientific support provided to locally initiated mobility policies in Berlin, and the successful development of the BMBF-funded project "Social Transformation and Policy Advice in Lusatia".


Co-Creation and Contemporary Policy Advice

How can different co-creative approaches be integrated into contemporary policy advice and policymaking in order to support transformations towards sustainability? This project investigates existing processes of reciprocal learning and consensus-building, analyses their effects, and tests new models for generating knowledge and shaping policy that transcend the boundaries of science, politics, civil society and business.

Kiezblocks as a Modular, Cross-Sectoral Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation

The impacts of climate change confront German cities with a range of challenges. Urban transformation concepts such as superblocks and Kiezblocks (residential areas in which through traffic is prohibited) aim to strengthen urban resilience, promote active mobility and social cohesion, support local businesses, and facilitate the greening and unsealing of surfaces in urban areas. But what can be done to make these transformation processes sustainable and inclusive?

Language Compass: Mobility and Public Space

Language shapes consciousness, and the decisions we make in daily life are influenced by words and statements. This extends to the way we think about mobility and how we use space in cities and villages. Researchers with the Language Compass project analyse the language used in the media in relation to mobility and public space and identify wording that is likely to hinder transformations.


In the "Losland" project, ten communities in Germany are receiving support in shaping a sustainable future for generations to come. The project team works with municipalities to develop participation processes that are inspired by citizens' assemblies, random selection, and other forms of citizen participation and tailored to the needs of each municipality. The processes that take place in the Losland municipalities allow citizens to contribute their perspectives, ideas and knowledge about their locality.

Air Quality Effects from Mobility Measures

In this project, RIFS researchers are working with the City of Berlin to accompany the implementation of a variety of mobility policies. They conduct measurement campaigns that assess changes in air quality, traffic, and user preferences and perceptions.

Completed Projects

Transforming Neighbourhoods on a Human Scale (TuneOurBlock)

Residential neighbourhoods are the heart of urban life for many people in Europe. City dwellers use public spaces in their neighbourhoods to access essential services and mobility systems, meet with other citizens, for leisure and more. But adapting our cities to meet the challenge of climate change will require the development of more green spaces and drainage infrastructure as well as sustainable mobility infrastructure within built-up areas where space is at a premium. This will inevitably lead to usage conflicts as authorities seek to create more sustainable and resilient neighbourhoods.

Berlin Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change

Berlin aims to become climate-neutral by 2050. The transformation processes this entails will affect almost all areas of life, making the wide involvement of civil society essential. With the Berlin Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change, the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection hopes to incorporate various perspectives from Berlin's inhabitants. The IASS is accompanying the Citizens' Assembly together with the nexus institute and the group "Klima-Mitbestimmung JETZT".