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. The research focuses on the preconditions, interactions, and consequences of spatial development, and how involved actors contribute to these developments by sharing insights and cooperating on processes of innovation. For instance, the IRS examines how the exchange of knowledge between academics and spatial planners facilitates the emergence of new approaches to spatial planning. Research topics and approaches typically follow a three year research programme.
The IRS conducts both basic and applied research and promotes the transfer of scientific insights to practitioners throughout society. Research on society and space at the IRS builds on interdisciplinary expertise from the fields of economic and social geography, political science, sociology, planning science, historical studies as well as the history of arts and architecture.
IRS scholars integrate these different academic traditions by utilising them in their research on space. With its research, the IRS makes a significant contribution to understanding the challenges and opportunities associated with space. It also sheds light on the ability of different spaces to transform and adapt to different regional, national and international contexts. Examples include innovations as drivers of knowledge-based economies, changes to infrastructural networks and new types of housing, as well as novel ways of living in and engaging with cities. It also encompasses changed patterns and dimensions of global migration.