Experts in geology and neighboring disciplines discuss whether humankind has shaped the world to such an extent to warrant the transformation from the Holocene to a new epoch, the Anthropocene. Natural and social phenomena have become interdependent on a global scale in manifold ways. With contributions from scholars and scientists from disciplines like economics, political and social sciences, biology, geology, geography and others, Global Change marks one of JMU’s distinct research priority areas.
At the Biocenter, JMU researchers contribute to a DFG Research Unit that links biodiversity, biotic interactions and biochemical ecosystems processes to study “Kilimanjaro Ecosystems under Global Change”. Biodiversity, next to climate change, adaptation and water management, also provides the focus for various research projects at the Department of Remote Sensing (which is part of the Institute of Geography and Geology and led in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Another major project from the field of geography, funded by the European Fund for Regional Development, looks into the potential of Big Data in the field of Geography.
As much as global change is a natural phenomenon, it must be also regarded as a social, political, economic, and legal issue. Research in the latter sense finds a home, among others, at the Human Dynamics Centre, a cross-disciplinary institution within the Faculty of Human Sciences, and at the GSiK Program, which focuses on global systems and intercultural competence. JMU’s Law Faculty has a strong section focusing on European and International Law, while the Institute of Political Science and Sociology features several working groups related to global change, such as the Working Group on State and Regime Research, which has a special focus on regime transformation and the measurement of democracy. At the Faculty of Business Management and Economics, the Chair for Monetary Policy and International Economics (Peter Bofinger) deals with core economic aspects of global change, as for instance the Eurozone crisis, renewable energies, and the reform of the international monetary system. Prof. Bofinger has also served as one of five members of the German Council of Economic Experts (“Sachverständigenrat”) since 2004. At the Faculty of Arts, the Institute for Sinology (“Sinologie Würzburg”) takes both a pronouncedly interdisciplinary and geographically focused approach to studying global change by way of analyzing cultural, historical, economic, and social scientific aspects of China-related research.