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Global Challenges

The growth of the global population from 1.6 billion people in the year 1900 to almost 8 billion people in 2020 as well as the concurrent industrialization, increase in food consumption and the development of new technologies, such as telecommunication and the internet, have led to radical changes in virtually all areas of human life. The predicted growth of the global population to nearly 10 billion people in the year 2050 will exacerbate the already enormous global challenges associated with these changes even further. The human-caused climate change and the decline in biodiversity as well as the increasing migration flows, the aging of the society and the changes of the global economy are only a few examples of the associated challenges. The search for adequate answers to these problems lies at the heart of the research at many faculties of JMU. Research at JMU, which falls into this Research Priority Area, can be divided into topics with a strong societal connection, such as the demographic transformation, the future of work or legal questions, as well as into subjects with a strong basis in the natural sciences, including research into climate, environment or biodiversity.

Socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and countries of the Global South are disproportionally affected by the consequences of climate change as well as other global transformations. The associated social inequalities are the topic of the Focus Area Diversity at the Faculty of Human Sciences. Scientists within this Focus Area explore the framework conditions that are necessary to successfully overcome the disadvantages within the educational sector and the world of work caused by social inequality.      

The Focus Area Demographic Transformation: Age and Migration of the Faculty of Arts investigates the immigration from other cultures and the societal aging from a cultural, linguistic and geographic perspective. Examples are research projects into the consequences of an aging society in China as well as speech disorders and speech rehabilitation following dementia.

Globalization, digitalization, an aging society, the demographic transformation, increasing diversity and inequality as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic represent manifold challenges for the working world and its key players. To transform these challenges into chances for society, innovative and targeted measures are required. Within the Focus Area Future of Work of the Faculty of Business Management and Economy, economists of JMU concern themselves with the development of effective and efficient measures at an individual, operational and political level to tackle the root causes of these pressing problems.

The sustainable management of our natural resources is essential to preserve intact ecosystems across the globe. A special focus of JMU’s legal scholars, therefore, rests on the organization of necessary regulations and substantive laws for planning and building as well as traffic and environment within the Focus Area Sustainability and Law of the Faculty of Law. Moreover, they focus on the duty of conduct of businesses operating under private law and within a global supply chain.

At the Faculty of Arts, global challenges are addressed from an environmental-humanities perspective, as part of the Focus Area Spatial Humanities, Cultural Heritage and Global Change. Within the subjects “environmental studies – environmental education” scientists investigate the role of literal discourses for the communication and reflection of ecological problems and knowledge. Together with the Faculty of Human Sciences, they also develop sustainability-orientated didactic approaches, such as “education for sustainable development” or “environmental learning”, for the education of future teachers.

Besides the societal and economic consequences of the global transformation, natural science-orientated questions lie at the heart of the Research Priority Area Global Challenges, whereby especially the associated complex environmental changes require an interdisciplinary approach. The consequences for plants and animals as well as their environment are another subject of investigation. Work at the Faculty of Biology into biodiversity contributes significantly to this topic, with a simultaneous connection to JMU’s Research Priority Area Molecules, Cells and Organisms.

Within the Focus Area Insect Research, scientists at JMU investigate the consequences of the global transformation on insects and analyze their role as well as their adaptability within a complex and changing environment. The Focus Area Plant Science aims to understand the differently evolved adaptation processes of plants at a molecular, physiological and ecological level, with the overarching goal to ensure the fitness and yield of plants and crop under the conditions of the global transformation.  

At the Faculty of Arts, research groups investigate climatic and environmental changes using models, observations and experiments.