Study Profile

The dominant economic system has not only led to a historically unique level of social wealth but is also accompanied by numerous negative environmental and social consequences. Mass consumption as well as the steadily growing need for resources and energy are major drivers of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and several other socio-ecological crises. The consequences of global warming and an increase in environmental pollution are not only felt in the global North. They are particularly affecting societies in the global South which have, in fact, contributed the least to these damaging developments. In other words: we live not only above our means, but also above the means of others. At the same time, social inequality is increasing not only at the global level but also within individual societies. It is becoming progressively clear that the economic system and lifestyle of societies located in the global North, which have become the blueprint, are not sustainable. In a deep multi-faceted crisis, society in general is becoming economically, ecologically, socially and politically pressured.

Against this background, the question is not whether a transformation of modern societies will take place but rather whether this change is predominantly enforced by circumstance or if it can be formulated within the framework of certain civilizing standards. In short: whether transformation takes place "by design or by disaster". But how is it possible to transform modern societies in a selective way? Certainly, such a complex process of transformation requires far more than just technological change. It needs a redefinition of our economic, institutional and cultural standards.

The Norbert Elias Center of the Europa-Universität Flensburg and the MA program "Transformation Studies" in particular, looks at the motivators for social change through a sustainability lens by conducting research which is both theory-driven and practically oriented. 

The course provides both scientific discourse and theoretical analysis as well as space for creative thinking and action. The aim is to give students the opportunity to understand social-ecological challenges and processes leading to social change as well as relating the two to each another. After completing their studies, students will have practice-oriented knowledge about social transformation geared towards sustainability.

You can find detailed information about the course structure here.

If one wants to analyze and reflect on climate change and social inequality, resource conflicts and financial market crises, growing natural consumption and capitalism, the theoretical and methodological knowledge of only one specific subject area is not sufficient. Accordingly, the Master's degree offers an interdisciplinary study approach.

Aspects of the following disciplines are included in the program: Sociology, Ecology, Economics, Geography, Philosophy, German Studies, Art, Education and Media Studies.

The aim of the course is to train qualified specialists for science, politics (counseling), business and society. After completion of the study program, job opportunities are provided both in the practical field as well as in science and research. The students qualify for jobs in research institutes as well as for demanding positions in public administrations, companies and institutions where processes of change in the context of sustainability are increasingly required.

Some examples of work placements outside of universities are:

  • International and non-governmental organizations
  • Corporate social responsibility and sustainability departments in companies
  • Environmental departments in the public sector
  • Common good oriented companies
  • Institutions and organizations that provide media, press and public relations on environmental and sustainability issues


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