KOSMOS Conference in the Humboldt Year – Call for Contributions
At the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, scientists from all around the world are discussing a sustainable future.
Alexander von Humboldt would have turned 250 years old on 14 September 2019. To mark this occasion, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) is hosting the international KOSMOS Conference on 28–30 August 2019. During the event titled ‘Navigating the Sustainability Transformation in the 21st Century’, researchers from around the globe will discuss one of the major challenges of the current times: how can a course be charted for a sustainable future? The call for scientists from all disciplines to submit contributions will be open until the end of February 2019.
The meticulous nature observer and tireless traveller Alexander von Humboldt was one of the first to recognise the global impact of human resource use on the environment and warned of its consequences. “His realisation represents the scientific starting point for sustainability research and is more relevant today than ever before,” says Prof. Christoph Schneider, Director of the Geography Department at the HU, who initiated the conference. “The continuing and ultimately dangerous influence of humanity on climate and environment in the Anthropocene calls for holistic thinking – as recognised by the pioneering Humboldt at an early stage. He is considered to be the founder of what we call the science of human-environment systems.” Developing holistic solutions for a sustainable future requires the close collaboration of various fields. The KOSMOS Conference is therefore interdisciplinary and brings together researchers from technical, natural and social sciences as well as the humanities.
The conference comprises six core topics that question issues such as equity and effective, democratically legitimate governance in a globalised world, economic systems beyond unlimited growth or the human impact on the land and oceans. These topics are framed within a critical, constructive debate of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (the SDG). “Conceived as a treasure hunt, all conference participants will come together in interdisciplinary teams. During the conference, they will each examine an SDG and subsequently present their results to the attendees. The treasure they will hopefully uncover will be new knowledge,” Schneider explains.
Opening to the public
The KOSMOS Conference – held in English – is aimed at experienced scientists as well as young researchers from all disciplines. Nonetheless, Berlin residents are also invited to attend, particularly for the evening programme such as a COSMOS lecture by the Swedish scientist Johan Rockström, the Citizen Science Table or a public debate. The conference thus follows Humboldt’s tradition once again. The KOSMOS lectures of 1827/28 were famous for their productive encounters between the expert audience and the general public. The KOSMOS Conference forms part of the HU event programme in the Humboldt Year 2019.
The KOSMOS Conference is organised jointly by the Geography Department and the Integrative Research Institute for Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. It is funded by the Stiftung Mercator.
HU programme for the Humboldt Year (in German):
Prof. Christoph Schneider, Humboldt University of Berlin, Geography Department, tel.: 030 2093-9411, email: