for a sustainable tomorrow

Visions/Solutions Scientists agree: The climate is changing and humans are responsible. But what can we do? With its ideas competition, Die Junge Akademie sought visions and solutions for a sustainable society. Here are the winners:

VISIONS category

1st placeAneta Zeleznikova with “My Hero”

The jury has awarded first place in the Visions category to Czech graphic designer Aneta Zeleznikova for her illustrated short story entitled “My Hero”. Written in the style of a school composition, the story takes place in the year 2100 and follows the protagonist Maya Capek as she traces her great grandmother’s life story. Maya uses documents which are included in the story as illustrations to find out how her ancestor managed to offer the people of the 21st century a new perspective on their planet. The jury was impressed with the outstanding way in which seemingly documentary illustrations are interwoven with short prose, as well as with the vision that world views can be changed both on an individual and on a collective level.

Die Junge Akademie 2020

2nd placeJohanna Hehemeyer-Cürten and Charlett Wenig with “The Bark Project”

A team from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam took second place for their work researching new concepts for biomaterials as part of team member Charlett Wenig’s doctoral thesis. Johanna Hehemeyer-Cürten and Charlett Wenig have established that, as a waste product, tree bark has largely gone unused in the wood industry. But the possibilities offered by resource recovery are many, spanning from processing to natural dyes and from varnishes to textile fibres. “The Bark Project” inspired the jury by connecting basic scientific research on the material and chemical composition of tree bark with a strong aesthetic vision of sustainable textiles.

Die Junge Akademie 2020

3rd placeTeam Creactive with “Mach deine Vision zu deiner Zukunft”

The jury awarded third place to Team Creactive for their video submission, which translates as “Make your vision a reality of the future”. Their vision of an environmentally conscious future addresses the question of how to imagine a future at all in light of climate change and the dangerous ecological and pragmatic challenges it involves. The submission contends that technological changes must go hand in hand with ethical and political changes – how our future looks ultimately depends on the political action we take today. The jury was impressed by the pragmatic vision of political action as well as the video’s impressive structure, which is comparable to that of other contemporary videos on science communication.

Die Junge Akademie 2020

Special prizeMaira Kellers et al. with “Corontäne”

A special prize was also awarded to Maira Kellers’ team for their video “Corontäne” – a portmanteau of coronavirus and Quarantäne, German for quarantine. In the video, a group of students meets up online during the coronavirus pandemic and discusses the crisis as an opportunity to make greater changes. The video connects a vision of an environmentally conscious world with the radical social critique of the Fridays for Future movement. The angry yet hopeful speeches from young people as well as the humour of the piece helped it stand out from the many other entries.

Die Junge Akademie 2020

SOLUTIONS category

1st placeSabina Keller with “Virtual Planet”

In the Solutions category, first place was awarded to Sabina Keller for her submission, which takes a critical look at travel as a consumer good. Travelling as we know it, with all of its positive and negative aspects, is contrasted with the alternative of (semi-)virtual long-distance travel experiences. While travellers spend their holiday in a nearby hotel designed to match their destination of choice, the real holiday location is expanded virtually, for instance with films and live interactive online tours that can even give visitors the experience of jet lag. The jury was particularly impressed by the clever interplay of real and virtual holiday experiences.

Die Junge Akademie 2020

2nd placeDungse

The jury awarded second place to the Indian-Dutch project Dungse. Dungse revolves around using cow dung as the basis for novel and above all sustainable composites which are intended to supplement or even replace conventional materials such as wood, stone or plastic in everyday life. The project tackles the concrete problem of what to do with the considerable amounts of cow dung produced in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world and provides a solution that is not just practical for daily use, but also aesthetically pleasing. The jury appreciated the way in which the project creatively and productively brings together approaches from the Global North and South. Visit the project’s website here:

Die Junge Akademie 2020

3rd placeSunCrafter

The jury awarded third place to the Berlin-based start-up SunCrafter. Upcycling old solar modules into plug-and-play solar generators is the main concept behind this submission. Not only can these generators be used to supply electricity to individuals and local communities in energy-poor parts of the globe, the electricity they supply is also produced sustainably. The start-up is additionally exploring opportunities for supplying electricity for use in various areas of daily life in rural communities and urban spaces, for example for charging e-bikes and e-scooters. What the jury appreciated about this project was how it connected its vision of a world in which everyone has access to clean energy to a solution to the concrete problem of recycling used solar modules. Visit SunCrafter’s website here:

Die Junge Akademie 2020

Special prizeEnvironmental club at Martin-Luther-Europaschule

An additional special prize was awarded to the environmental club at Martin-Luther-Europaschule for the strategy it developed for special certification as an environmentally friendly school. The jury’s decision was based on how deeply the students and their teachers engaged with possibilities for running the school sustainably. Ideas ranged from saving energy during school holidays and promoting acceptance of cycling paths to using an interactive app to solving the problems big and small which arise when using green energy to charge the school’s own electric vehicle. Visit the school’s website here (in German):

Die Junge Akademie 2020

About the competition

Die Junge Akademie 2020

As part of its online competition, the Sustainability Research Group at Die Junge Akademie accepted digital entries that engaged with visionary ideas or concrete approaches to a sustainable future. Participants had until 15 May 2020 to submit entries in the categories of Visions or Solutions in a broad range of formats – from images and videos to texts and songs to multimedia content. Prizes in the amount of 2,000, 1,500 and 1,000 euros were awarded to the three best entries in each category. Die Junge Akademie is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and the competition, which received support from the UmweltBank AG for the Solutions category, represents a continuation of its engagement with sustainability as an issue affecting both the scientific community and society as a whole.

The Visions category honoured visionary concepts for a society in which sustainability is understood in more than just environmental and economic terms. The competition looked for artistic and creative perspectives on how to create another, better world, where sustainable behaviour also extends to social, cultural and aesthetic practices.

The Solutions category recognised ideas for original solutions to sustainability-related problems. The categories are based on the belief that technical and technological solutions are essential for a sustainable lifestyle. In particular, the competition was looking for innovative climate and environmental processes and environmentally friendly ideas for solving concrete problems in our daily lives and at work.

The jury also awarded a special prize in the amount of 250 euros to projects submitted by young people in each category.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over

The Two Cultures with Gert Scobel

The research group “The Two Cultures” is concerned with the supposed or actual divide between the humanities and the natural sciences. In a variety of activities, it examines, both historically and in the present, how this distinction affects the self-understanding of the actors involved, what social and disciplinary functions it fulfils and how it influences the scientific process.
Guest of the research group on this evening is Gert Scobel. As philosopher, television journalist, author and, since 2019, with his own YouTube channel, he has repeatedly focused on the natural sciences and humanities. Gert Scobel enjoys a reputation in German-speaking science journalism that few others can match. He sees the opportunities in the transformation of science communication, which he himself advances with various formats.

Which disciplines and topics are preferred subjects of science journalism, and why? To what extent do different subjects and disciplines require different mediation services? And is a demarcation between disciplines relevant for communication at all?

Bettina Keller (Chemistry, FU Berlin), Miriam Akkermann (Musicology, TU Dresden) and Fabian Krämer (History of Science, LMU Munich) will discuss these and other questions with Gert Scobel.

The event takes place via Zoom. To participate, please register by 16:00 on 19.08.2020.

Challenging PerspectivesWhether it is sustainability, art, debate or artificial intelligence – all the big, important topics will be in the spotlight in the anniversary year of 2020. In the Challenging Perspectives lecture and discussion series, six research groups of Die Junge Akademie are presenting one evening each at the Heimathafen Neukölln in Berlin. Together with renowned guests from the sciences, arts and the public sphere, members will discuss current scientific and other major social topics. It is also about giving critical perspectives a voice in order to provoke interesting changes of perspective. The audience is invited to join in the discussion and develop new perspectives on much debated topics.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over

Popular Culture(s) with Harald Schmidt

As an actor, entertainer, cabaret artist and columnist, Harald Schmidt expertly explores the possibilities of television, cabaret and theatre, from seriousness to entertainment and from ‘high culture’ to ‘low culture’ – changing the perspective on what popular culture is and can be.

Reason enough then for Die Junge Akademie’s “Popular Culture(s)” research group to invite Harald Schmidt to discuss the topics of the evening. What actually is – or was – television? How is satire possible in (un)serious times? What is popular culture anyway? And finally: What can science learn from popular culture? These and other questions will be discussed by Harald Schmidt together with Islamic Studies scholar Simon Wolfgang Fuchs, historian Valeska Huber and ancient historian Christoph Lundgreen. The evening will be hosted by literary scholar and speaker of the research group, Michael Bies.

Admission: 6.30 pm
Start of event: 7.00 pm

Admission is free. Ticket required.

Please note, the event will be held in German.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
05.11/19pmStudio visit and talk

[postponed] Lara Keuck @Jongeriuslab

Discovery through weaving: Die Junge Akademie science historian Lara Keuck and designer Hella Jongerius discuss the relationship between weaving and knowledge, and weaving as a form of critical enquiry. The feminist theory of weaving epistemology describes the craft as a model for combining different and sometimes contrasting perspectives which stem from different eras or strata of society.

How can woven textiles help us understand the world?

What can their manufacturing process teach us about the underlying interconnectedness of apparent antitheses such as tradition and innovation, coherence and dissonance, or the natural and the invented? What forms can this take? How will weaving and the materiality and aesthetics of tapestry be used to scrutinise these dichotomies?

These questions form the basis for the discussion between Lara Keuck and Hella Jongerius. Jongerius invites viewers to join the two speakers in her design studio Jongeriuslab. There, she will present some of her pieces which provide insight into her practice of woven research – the core of her current work and her most recent exhibition “Interlace, Woven Research” (Lafayette Anticipations 2019, Paris).

The public is invited to take part virtually in the visit to her studio. The audience is also welcome to participate in a question and answer round following the conversation.

The talk will be in English. A livestream will be available on the Die Junge Akademie Youtube channel.

diejungeakademie@Where does science take place and who can participate in scientific debates? The requirements for communicating scientific findings have changed. The call for public science is becoming increasingly stronger as social challenges continue to grow. In its anniversary year, Die Junge Akademie is leaving the usual places of scientific activity behind and is entering the heart of society with a series of events as part of diejungeakademie@. Members host events at cinemas, cultural centres, pubs and even public transport to offer an insight into their work and current debates in their disciplines. Above all, however, they are seeking a dialogue with people – whether they are otherwise involved in science or not.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
27.10/19pmShort Films and Discussion

Nausikaä El-Mecky @Berlinale Spotlight: Berlinale Shorts

“Censorship” – Short films in discussion

What does censorship mean concretely, in art, in everyday life, in one’s own thinking?

On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, Die Junge Akademie invites you to an evening of short films and discussions as part of the series diejungeakademie@. The programme was curated by Nausikaä El-Mecky (art historian at the University of Pompeu Fabra and member of Die Junge Akademie) in cooperation with Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck (co-founder of the shorts/salon & director of the Berlinale Shorts). Together with filmmakers and experts, the audience is invited to dive into the topic of “censorship” through conversation.

Nausikaä El-Mecky (Die Junge Akademie, Pompeu Fabra University)
Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck (Head Berlinale Shorts)
Ömer Alkın (media and cultural scientist)
– Mischa Leinkauf (filmmaker and artist)
Annette Schuhmann (Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam)

Short films:

The filmmaker Ines Moldavsky lives in Israel, the Palestinian territories are just around the corner and yet they are unknown territory. The state does everything to keep people apart, to prevent them from getting to know each other. The conflict has been kept alive in this way for decades. So what do you do about these barriers in your head, barriers that you have grown up with and cannot get rid of so easily? With her short film The Men Behind the Wall, Moldavsky dares to take a closer look and uses the dating platform Tinder to make contact with Palestinians across the wall.

Stopping dialogue, separating people from each other, forbidding them to speak freely and think independently – these are also characteristics of censorship. Kaputt describes how in the GDR the inmates of the women’s prison Hoheneck were worn down with forced labour and their speech directly forbidden. Where Moldavsky is still allowed to fight for freedom, the political prisoners Gabriele Stötzer and Birgit Willschütz have to cope with isolation and strict, merciless rules in prison.

But how can a word, a political conviction, a work of art, pose such a threat and become a danger to the system? Two American flags all in white are waving on the Brooklyn Bridge in Symbolic Threats – and cause politics, the media, and residents to outdo one another with conspiracy theories, fear of terrorism, and security fantasies. It’s both involuntarily funny and very frightening at the same time, what such an anonymous art action can trigger. How easy it is to provoke when thought patterns, conventions and the feeling of control are undermined.

The short films:

The Men Behind the Wall
Ines Moldavsky
Israel 2018, 28 min.
English, Hebrew, Arabic with English subtitles

Volker Schlecht, Alexander Lahl
Germany 2016, 7 min.
German with engl. UT

Symbolic Threats
Matthias Wermke, Mischa Leinkauf, Lutz Henke
Germany 2015, 17 min.
English with German subtitles

The minimum age for admission to the event is 18.
In cooperation withBerlinale Shorts und shorts/salon.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
19.10/19pmTalk and Concert

[postponed] Simon W. Fuchs and Caspar Battegay @Theater Neumarkt Zurich

Unfortunately the event is cancelled. The event will be postponed to spring 2021.

The Middle East as a utopia?

Zionism, socialism, pan-Arabism, Islamic Republic: The Middle East and its history in the course of the twentieth century has been shaped by utopian ideologies and ideas. However, today this global region is often perceived only as a space of chaos: violence, seemingly intractable conflicts and corruption. Do literary and artistic utopias of the Middle East still have something to say? Where could concrete starting points for new utopias in the region lie, beyond the realm of day-to-day politics? This is what Simon Wolfgang Fuchs (University of Freiburg) and Caspar Battegay (University of Basel) discuss with author and historian Dana von Suffrin, organization researcher Ayad Al-Ani, Islamic Studies scholar Gudrun Krämer and journalist Dunja Ramadan at the Neumarkt Theater in Zurich. Following the discussion, a concert by Ella Ronen and Omri Hason is planned.

On occasion of their 20th anniversary, members of Die Junge Akademie invite the public to take part in various events in diverse spaces within the event series diejungeakademie@ and foster dialogue with the audience on scientific topics. This event is held in cooperation with the Omanut Association and the Neumarkt Theater Zurich. Admission is free of charge.

Discussions will take place in German. A livestream will be available on the YouTube channel of Die Junge Akademie.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
29.06/19:30pmOnline presentation “Expedition Anthropocene”

Miriam Akkermann, Christian Hof, Dirk Pflüger and Ricarda Winkelmann @home

Expedition Anthropozän

17 days, 6 scientists, 1 project; followingthismotto, sixmembersofDie Junge Akademieembarked on an expeditionto Ecuador from 22.2.-9.3.2020. Withaccesstoseveralclimaticzones and glaciers, thecountryofferedthe ideal destinationtostudy progressive climatechange and itseffects on people, glacier retreat, biodiversity, acousticecologicalchanges and micro-plasticoccurrences in snow and ice. Yetthefocus was always on thequestion: Howisresearchactuallydonetoday?

After thescreeningof a shortfilm,shotduringtheexpedition, ourmembersMiriam Akkermann (Musicology, TU Dresden), Christian Hof (Biology, TU Munich), Dirk Pflüger (Computer Science, University of Stuttgart), and Ricarda Winkelmann (Physics, PIK and University of Potsdam) sharetheirinsights and experiences. Participantsareinvitedtodiscussclimatechange, itseffects on humans and nature, and therolethatsciencehastoplay.

The event takes place via Zoom and is held in German. To participate, please register by 5 pm on 29 June 2020.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
26.06/19pmBook Talk with Philip Manow

Eva Buddeberg, Lukas Haffert and Christoph Lundgreen @home

Book Talk with Philip Manow

What exactly is the much-vaunted crisis of democracy? Is populism a cause of this crisis or its consequence? What happens when the dispute in democracy turns into a dispute about democracy? These are the questions posed by the political scientist Philip Manow in his recently published book “(De-)Democratization of Democracy”. Philip Manow discusses his answers with the following members of Die Junge Akademie: philosopher Eva Buddeberg (Goethe University Frankfurt/ Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz), political scientist Lukas Haffert (University of Zurich) and ancient historian Christoph Lundgreen (TU Dresden/SNS Pisa).

The event takes place via Zoom and is held in German. To participate, please register by 5 pm on 26 June 2020.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
17.06/19pmLive talk

Timo de Wolff and Benedict Esche @home

Aesthetics and abstraction

Aesthetics is considered to be the doctrine of beauty – often linked with sensuality. Aesthetics – so it seems – always requires the perception of spectators. Is there an aesthetic quality to the abstract ideas of architecture, design or mathematical proof? If so, what does “beauty” or “elegance” mean in this context?And if not, how can beauty be distinguished from arbitrariness?

Benedict Esche (Architekt, Kollektiv A, München) und Timo de Wolff (Mathematician, TU Braunschweig) will talk about these and other questions at this evening’s event.From different perspectives, they seek to approach the relationship between aesthetics and abstraction.

It is an open discussion format in which all participants are welcome to join in the discussion.

The event takes place via Zoomand is held in German. To participate, please register by 5 pm on 17.06.2020.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
10.06/19:30pmLive discussion and performance

Miriam Akkermann und Isabelle Dolezalek @home

Digital (high) culture in times of Corona

The measures associated with the containment of Covid-19 meant that, from March onwards, museums, concert halls, literature houses, theatres and other cultural venues had to close, along with most public places. The art business suffered severe restrictions in all areas, and many respects came to a complete standstill.

As a by-product of the shutdown, it was noticeable that many digital offers in the field of art were made available free of charge or newly launched. It occurred both in the institutional sector (museums, concert halls) and on a smaller scale (streams, balcony concerts).

What prompted this? What is the position of culture and especially digital high culture in times of Corona? Moreover, what does it say about the idea of the position of art within our (Western) society? What does it mean to transfer traditional presence formats into the digital world? Who visits the new virtual offerings? On the other hand, which genuinely digital art formats had already existed?

These are the questions the members of Die Junge Akademie Isabelle Dolezalek (University of Greifswald) and Miriam Akkermann (TU Dresden) will discuss withCaspar Battegay (Universität Basel) and their guests from science, culture and art:
Lydia Jeschke, Editor-in-Chief Neue Musik und Jazz, SWR
Holger Simon, art historian and cultural entrepreneur

The discussion will be followed by a live performance by Shelly Knotts.

The event takes place via Zoom and is held in German.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
28.05/11amShort lecture and Q&A

Valerie Domcke @virtual classroom

Valerie Domcke is a physicist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and a guest in the virtual classroom. She speaks about detective work in the cosmos, unravelling the early history of the universe.

Snapshots from the early universe

The universe stretches out between the stars we see in the starry sky as a rather cold, empty place. But this has not always been the case. Many billions of years ago our universe was a hot primeval soup and the whole universe as we see it today was small like an orange. But how do we really know this if no one was there to make observations at that time?
Valerie Domcke will answer these and other questions from the students about her scientific work in the fourth issue of diejungeakademie@ Virtual Classroom.

This offer is designed in particular for teachers of secondary school classes to foster the exchange between academia and school.
The event takes place via Zoom and is held in German.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
27.05/17:30pmOnline Lecture and Q&A

Astrid Eichhorn @home

Black holes and the fundamental structure of space and time

Black holes are among the fascinating objects in our universe. Recent scientific breakthroughs have made it possible to observe black holes directly – through detection of gravitational waves produced in massive black hole collisions, and even through the first direct image of a black hole. Nevertheless, these objects remain mysterious and arouse our curiosity: unlike other astrophysical objects, we will never be able to “see” the inside of a black hole because no information, not even at the speed of light, can escape from the black hole. So what is it that black holes hide from us behind their so-called “event horizon”?

Astrid Eichhorn, physicist at the University of Southern Denmark, invites you to a lecture on the fundamental structure of space and time which, according to physics, determines the interior of a black hole.

The event takes place via Zoom and is held in German.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
20.05/11amShort lecture and Q&A

Ricarda Winkelmann @virtual classroom

Ricarda Winkelmann, climate researcher and professor at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and at the University of Potsdam, is a guest in the virtual classroom and gives secondary school students insights into a key topic of her discipline.


Biting cold and eternal ice – that’s probably what most people think of when they hear the word Antarctica… But, has the continent at the South Pole always been covered with ice? How does progressive climate change affect the polar regions? And how does all this relate to us? Ricarda Winkelmann reports on topics related to Antarctica and climate change and is looking forward to her visit in the virtual classroom.

This offer is designed in particular for teachers of secondary school classes to foster the exchange between academia and school.
The event takes place via Zoom and is held in German.

Die Junge Akademie 2020
Already over
07.05/11amShort lecture and Q&A

Christian Hof @virtual classroom

Biodiversity – the variety of life

Even if we are still in the middle of the corona crisis, we must not forget that there are other unresolved global problems. These include climate change, as a matter of course, but also species extinction – the loss of animal and plant species worldwide. And yet what is actually being lost? The diversity of genes, species and habitats on our planet is what we call biodiversity. In a short lecture we will show what this looks like, where it comes from, its distribution on earth and how endangered it is. Afterwards the students have the opportunity to ask further questions.

Christian Hof, a biologist at the Technical University of Munich, is a guest in the virtual classroom and gives secondary school students insights into a key topic of his discipline.

This offer is designed in particular for teachers of secondary school classes to foster the exchange between academia and school.The event takes place via Zoom and is held in German.