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Dr. Florian Kern elected as new chair of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN)

The steering group and board of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN) has elected Dr. Florian Kern as the network’s new chair. Dr. Kern will take over from Dr. Jochen Markard as of 20th of June. Today, the change was announced to the STRN community at the 15th International Sustainability Transitions Conference. Dr. Florian Kern has been a member of the STRN steering group since 2016. He is head of the research field “Ecological Economics and Environmental Policy” at the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) in Berlin.

STRN is the leading international network and hub that promotes research, teaching, and outreach in the field of sustainability transitions: large-scale transformations in sectors such as energy, mobility, or agri-food toward more sustainable modes of production and consumption.

Dr. Jochen Markard gave the network a more global orientation and professional structure

Under the guidance of Dr. Jochen Markard, who works as a Senior Researcher at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and who has chaired the network since 2019, STRN has grown to an international community of over 3,000 scholars. The network has grown more geographically diverse, with thriving transition researcher communities particularly in Brazil, South Africa and India, and also more diverse in terms of research topics, with more research for example on just transitions, deep transitions and transformative change.

Jochen Markard initiated and oversaw the change from a largely informal network organisation to a more professional network, with a secretariat based at Utrecht University, funded through the support of institutional members: leading research groups and institutions in transition studies. This transformation has allowed STRN to begin many new and exciting projects, such as a first PhD school on sustainability transitions. Under Dr. Markard’s guidance, the IST conference was hosted outside of Europe (in Ottawa, Canada in 2019) for the first time and he helped the network navigate the challenging COVID years. 

In his reaction to the election of Florian Kern as the new chair of STRN, Jochen Markard said: “I am very happy that Florian, a long-standing member of STRN as well as the steering group and a senior researcher in transition studies, will be taking up the role as a chair of STRN, and I am certain that our network will truly benefit from his experience and dedication.”

Dr. Florian Kern: senior expert on politics of and policy mixes for transitions

Having presented his PhD research at the first IST conference in Amsterdam in 2009, Dr. Florian Kern is a long-standing member of STRN. He has been an active member of the STRN steering group since 2016. Dr. Kern’s research focuses on the policies for and politics of sustainability transitions, including the political dynamics of transitions, the different actors, policy and governance processes involved, and the policy mixes which can be used to stimulate and accelerate sustainability transitions. Empirically, he has worked on energy, food, and mobility systems as well as issues around biodiversity and circular economy. Between 2017 and 2023 Dr. Kern was an associate editor of Research Policy.

Dr. Kern is head of the research group Ecological Economics and Environmental Policy at the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW). He also coordinates the Institute’s crosscutting topics Innovation and Technology and Environmental Policy and Governance. The IÖW is a leading, independent sustainability research institute based in Berlin, Germany, which conducts inter- and transdisciplinary research and closely works with societal actors. Prior to joining the IÖW, Dr. Kern was based at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, UK (2005-2018).

Having led research groups for the last 11 years and being involved in the senior leadership team of IÖW as well as SPRU, Dr. Kern brings a lot of management experience to the role at STRN. He also has much experience engaging with policymakers (e.g. OECD, European Commission, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands and the UK) as well as other important stakeholders in transition processes (e.g. cities, green NGOs, civil society). He has closely worked with the European Environment Agency (EEA), for example by being one of the core authors of the 2019 EEA report ‘Sustainability transitions: Policy and Practice’ which summarised key findings from sustainability transitions research and formulated a set of policy and governance recommendations. He is also one of the lead authors of the 2022 EEA report ‘Transforming Europe’s food system – Assessing the EU policy mix’.

Next step for STRN: Strengthening further interdisciplinary exchange as well as societal and policy impact 

Florian Kern responded to his election: “I am delighted to serve as STRN chair and I am very grateful for the trust the STRN steering group and board members have put in me. I would like to thank Jochen Markard for his dedication to grow and nurture the network and the tremendous impact he has had. I am looking forward to closely working with the STRN secretariat, board and steering group in order to see the network flourish academically and also increase its impact in policy and society.”

He emphasises: “Organisationally, it will be important to further develop the structures and processes of STRN governance. Academically, I would like to promote exchange with related academic networks and encourage transition scholars to reach out to other academic fields to encourage more cross-fertilisation and also increase the impact of transition ideas beyond STRN. I also think that working more closely with relevant policymakers and societal actors is essential in promoting sustainability transitions, especially given the difficult political and societal developments around us”.


More Information

View Florian Kern’s vita and publications