From January 2016 until June 2018, one of the two transdisciplinary (Td) case studies of the Leverage Points project took place in the district of Oldenburg. The Td case study aimed to identify and apply potential leverage points for sustainability transformation. The cooperative research related the different views and actions of artists, actors of the region and scientists on the topics of biodiversity, nutrition, energy and agriculture.
THE DISTRICT OF OLDENBURG AS A CASE
The district of Oldenburg served as a case, in which the perspectives of the involved persons were brought up and discussed in order to find transformative potentials. The Oldenburg district has a total area of 1,063.16 km ² and it is located between the cities of Oldenburg, Delmenhorst / Bremen and Osnabrück in Lower Saxony. The area is characterized by intensive industrial agriculture. Challenges within the region include a loss of biodiversity, nutrient and pesticide pressures, conflicts between agriculture, tourism and conservation, and a perceived alienation between communities and nature.
THE RESEARCH COOPERATION
The following groups cooperated within the framework of the Td case study: 1) Scientists from the Leverage Points project. 2) Artists from the Artecology_network, an association that is dedicated to the arts and culture in the landscape, as well as the interaction of art and nature as a social task of environmental education. 3) Representatives of the regional administration from the fields of nature conservation, climate protection, culture, the nature park “Wildeshauser Geest”, as well as the municipalities. 4) Master students from the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, who dealt with nature parks as a lever for sustainability transformation. 5) A broader public was involved in many activities within the case study. The cooperation was based on the key question: (Bio) Diversity Corridor: How can we build alliances to collectively shape an emergent and viable future for the Oldenburg region?”
(BIO) DIVERSITY CORRIDOR
A “corridor” symbolizes a membrane, a transitional space, a sluice or a space without a clear boundary. A (bio) diversity corridor stands for:
- bridges between communities, people and nature
- climate protection and biodiversity as a common concern
- reduction of barriers, creation of awareness, neighborly actions
- developing a feeling for the common space
- equally cultural and ecological diversity
- slow movements and awareness of landscape details
NEXT STEPS: CASE-BASED MUTUAL LEARNING
Mutual learning is a fundamental aspect in transdisciplinary sustainability research. It is considered as increasing the knowledge of participants, along with an appreciation of the multiple perspectives co-existing in the process. Mutual learning is also one of the prerequisites for the creation of socially and culturally robust knowledge.
In order to facilitate those learning processes, case-based Mutual Learning Sessions (cbMLS) served as a transdisciplinary workshop format that aimed to organize mutual learning, knowledge integration and transfer, among people from different disciplines, fields of action and societal domains. A goal was to support learning from, with and between cases and to develop a concrete outcome – such as policy orientations – for the case study sites. The cbMLS at the Leverage Points 2019 conference focused on both the case of the district of Oldenburg and of Southern Transylvania. Both case study areas are confronted with intensive landscape changes which have ecological, economic, social and cultural consequences. A focus of the cbMLS was on reactions and attitudes towards these changes. Pro-active attitudes and beliefs were dependent on perceived agency in both cases. Therefore, participants from both cases were present in the cbMLS. The session consisted of the preparation of a shared booklet at the forefront, an excursion to the Oldenburg district on the day before the conference, further sessions, and a presentation of results on the first conference day.