Interview with Markus Kühlert, from the Wuppertal Institute, Germany

Meet Markus Kühlert, a Research Fellow at the Wuppertal Institute in Germany talking about their involvement in the SciShops project.

Q: Firstly, tell us a bit about the Wuppertal Institute and your motivation getting involved in the SciShops project.

The Wuppertal Institute undertakes research and develops models, strategies and instruments for transitions to a sustainable development at local, national and international level. Sustainability research at the Wuppertal Institute focuses on the resources, climate and energy related challenges and their relation to economy and society. Special emphasis is put on analysing and stimulating innovations that decouple economic growth and wealth from natural resource use. For further information about the Wuppertal Institute, see

Our motivation to become part of the SciShops project is to promote a transformative research approach where citizens and other stakeholders are integrated in research activities as experts of their individual lifestyle settings. Making research more relevant for urgent sustainability challenges that (local) society is facing and observing and analysing societal transformations through inter- and transdisciplinary research are key objectives of transformative science. Therefore, a deeper understanding of ongoing transformations is required to develop an increased societal capacity for reflexivity with regard to complex transition processes.


Q: Tell us a bit more about the approach of Wuppertal Institute’s new Science Shop – Innovation Labs.

The mission of our Science Shop is to accelerate a socially accepted sustainability transformation in and around the city of Wuppertal based on a transformative research approach. This includes brokerage services and collaboration with regional/local stakeholders (e.g. citizens, public and private organisations) to identify real needs and to co-create sustainable innovation and design as a means of decoupling quality of life and environmental as well as social damage. Taking stakeholder concerns, which consist of city citizens, NGOs, NPOs, the city administration, local social and environmental initiatives and industries, as the starting point of action for tackling current and future social-ecological challenges.

 As a pilot project, the Science Shop Wuppertal was involved in organising a CBPR event in Wuppertal in cooperation with the University of Wuppertal, Neue Effizienz and Climate-KIC, called Climathon Wuppertal, where citizens develop solutions together with scientists to address local challenges related to climate changes. Originally conceptualised as a 24-hour hackathon by Climate-KIC, Climathon has since taken off as a global movement, engaging citizens on climate action and providing cities with continued support on the unique challenges they face.

 You can read more about the Science Shop and the activities we have been undertaking in our web profile.


Q: In your opinion, what makes the Climathon concept so successful?

I think the spirit of an international movement where people all over the world work together at the same time on urgent topics of climate change which are related to their specific local needs makes the Climathon concept a success.


Q: What have you personally got out of participating in the SciShops project?

Personally, I am very thankful to have been a part of this inspiring project consortium. I was very curious about how researchers all over the EU are being engaged in CBPR. One of my learnings is that a method-mix is required to strengthen the CBPR approach from Citizen Science to Living Labs.


Q: Now the SciShops project is coming to an end, what are your hopes and expectations for the legacy of the project?

My hope and expectations at the same time are that CBPR will be spread in the EU science and innovation system. I believe that our project results provide helpful insights for researchers to engage in CBPR. Nevertheless, a continuous further development of corresponding research methods is required to promote the CBPR approach in the science system.