Foto: micharl_foto/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0/

_New Possibilities for Research and Archives _Contemporary Witnesses in Research on Urban History _Facebook as a Forum for Debates on Urban Design _Researching and Experiencing Urban Authenticity _Citizen Science in Archival Work

Foto:Christian Müller/
Research on Society and Space

Research at the IRS is focused on the spatial aspects and contexts of social action. In doing so, spatial phenomena are explored in terms of both processual and historical dimensions using social-scientific methods.

Foto: Andreas Berheide/

The Research Area examines how spaces are constructed and transformed by interactive, innovative, creative, knowledge-based and entrepreneurial activity. It focuses on the complex interaction of civil society, public and private sector actors.

Foto: Animaflora PicsStock/

The Research Area analyses the political negotiation, planning and transformation of the social and spatial development of cities and regions. It primarily examines the governance of increasingly uncertain, complex and ambiguous constellations.

Foto: Andreas Praefcke /Eigenes Werk/CC BY 3.0/

The Research Area addresses problems of design, planning and appropriation of spaces in recent history. The focus is laid on the history of urbanisation, architecture and urban planning in the GDR, the significance of materiality in the historical transformation of the built environment, and cross-border cooperation in spatial development.


04. September | 2023

In the history of the Cold War, the Global South often appears only as a theatre of bloc politics between East and West. In recent research, voices from Africa and Asia have been noted, but little is known about their interconnections. To shed light on these, the collaborative project "Crafting Entanglements: Afro-Asian Pasts of the Global Cold War", starting in July of 2023, looks at student and women's networks, media entanglements through radio stations and film festivals, and the divided city of Berlin as a site of South-South connections. more info

01. September | 2023

The economic geographer Suntje Schmidt was appointed W2 Professor of Applied Economic Geography by the President of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) on 29 August 2023. The appointment was made jointly with the IRS, where she has headed the Research Area "Economics and Civil Society" since 2022. more info

28. August | 2023

Since June 2023, the Open-Access-journal “Raumforschung und Raumordnung | Spatial Research and Planning” is part of the database Scopus. The journal, which is published jointly by five member organizations of the Research Network “Spatial Knowledge for Society and Environment (Leibniz R)”, has thus reached a major milestone. more info

14. August | 2023

For its commitment to open access to knowledge and information, the IRS library was awarded the Open Library Badge. The Open Library Badge initiative aims to reward libraries that promote openness in science and society. It seeks to make corresponding offers and activities visible. Openness in this context entails the removal of access barriers, the promotion of participation and the commitment to transparency. 26 libraries in German-speaking countries have received the badge in its current iteration. more info

New Publications

15. August | 2023
Paper on the Spread of COVID-19

An article by IRS researchers Andreas Kuebart and Martin Stabler recently published in the journal "Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology" looks at the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic at the level of German counties over time. The study shows: The first four waves of the pandemic were distributed very unevenly within Germany. However, even over long periods of time, the distribution remained surprisingly stable and the affected regions remained the same. more info

06. April | 2023
Paper Presents New Format for Dialogical Knowledge Transfer

In addition to teaching and research, universities have a third mission: knowledge transfer. In a new paper in the journal “Local Economy”, Julia Stadermann and Suntje Schmidt report on Innovation Salons - a new transfer format that supports the emergence of novel problem solutions for societal challenges. In such salons, universities can work together with civil society on problem-driven innovations; for example, by co-developing the concept for a health centre in a rural area. more info

01. March | 2023
Arab Gulf Region: University Offshore Campuses as “Hinges“ of Globalisation

A recent IRS paper shows how university offshore campuses can affect the strategic positioning of cities. Tim Rottleb investigated the effects of the interplay between urban development policies and the internationalisation of universities in the Arab Gulf region. The study areas were the cities of Doha, Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah. more info

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