Content of the course

The lecture «World in Transition« is offered by members of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). The WBGU is an independent, scientific advisory body to the German federal government. Its principal tasks are to analyse global environment and development problems and to elaborate recommendations for action and research.

In this lecture, the WBGU presents its flagship report »World in Transition - A Social Contract for Sustainability«. The lecture starts with an interview that provides a comprehensive overview about the global transformation towards a low-carbon society. Subsequent lectures highlight the characteristics of the so-called »anthropocene«, including the main impacts of climate change. A detailed view on concepts of transformation is presented and aspects of technical and economic feasibility are adressed in detail. The role of the state and change agents in the transformation process are also examined. Finally, you will become familiar with some instruments and measures that can advance the great transformation towards sustainability. A special lecture focuses on the role of scientific advice in policy making and explains the functioning of the WBGU and how the WBGU produces scientific policy advice.


The course is open for students of every discipline. You can receive 3 Creditpoints with a workload of circa 90 hours. This period of time includes watching and working through the educational videos, revising the presentational slides, dealing with the exercises, reading additional literature and preparing the exam. The exam will be an electronic test, which you can pass at a nearby university.

The educational videos can generally be used by everybody in every context. By this means teachers for other groups (e.g. enterprises) can profit too.

With questions and helpful suggestions feel free to contact the module responsible.

This lecture is offered by members the German Advisory Council on Global Change. It has been produced 2012 for the Virtuelle Akademie Nachhaltigkeit at the University of Bremen.



0 - Introduction
(Dr. Inge Paulini, Nadine Dembski)

1 - Interview with the Chair of the WBGU
(Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber)

2 - Global Megatrends
(Prof. Dr. Reinhold Leinfelder)

3 - Climate Change and Climate Impact
(Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf)

5 - Technical and Economic Feasibility of the Transformation
(Prof. Dr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schmid)

6 - Financing the Transformation and the Role of Carbon Markets
(Prof. Dr. Renate Schubert, Dr. Daniel Klingenfeld)

7 - A new Statehood within the Mutilevel System
(Prof. Dr. Sabine Schlacke)

8 - Agents of Transformation
(Prof. Dr. Claus Leggewie)

9 - Scientific Advice for Policymakers
(Dr. Silke Beck, Dr. Inge Paulini)

10 - Instruments and Recommendations for Action
(Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner)

11 - Recommendations for Research and Education
(Prof. Dr. Reinhold Leinfelder)