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Topics offered for theses

Current final thesis topics 2012
within the framework of the research project “Unpredictable Environment – Dealing with Uncertainty and Ignorance”


The frequency and urgency with which terms such as “sustainability” are used in social debate apparently marks a yearning for helping to prevent or reduce environmental problems by means of reliable prescriptions for action and guidelines in dealing with natural resources. If however the management and composition of natural ecosystems is always characterized by risks and uncertainty, the question arises: how do we deal with concrete decision context?

In the research project “Unpredictable Environment – Dealing with Uncertainty and Ignorance” we concern ourselves, using the example of forestry in an interdisciplinary way, with the empirical question of how, and especially by means of what problem-solving techniques, organizations secure their “sustainable” capacity to act and make decisions, before the back-drop of the impact of climate change.

In this context we are searching for students (especially from forestry and environmental sciences, sociology, history, economics or political science) who are interested in writing their final thesis in one of the following topic areas: 

  1. Sustainability and uncertainty: How can the principle of sustainability with its long-term strategies be reconciled with the consciousness of future uncertainty? What does it mean for sustainability strategies, if they should allow for conditions of uncertainty and ignorance?
  2. Uncertainty in media coverage: How does the media broach the issue of the uncertainty that accompanies the diagnosis of anthropogenic climate change? What consequences are drawn for political and economic alternative action?
  3. Description and communication of uncertainty and ignorance: How are model-related uncertainty and ignorance and those that are not considered in the model described and/or communicated in decision support or in aid for decision makers in practice?
  4. Uncertainty and individual decision-making: How do the decision-makers deal with decision support systems?
  5. Internal scientific procedures for the processing of uncertainty: To what extent is uncertainty considered in the development and use of models, simulations and decision support systems?
  6. The role of interest groups: How do special interest groups (e.g. the timber industry, private forest owners, nature protection organizations) process the uncertainty that goes along with climate change adaptation?
  7. Administration in upheaval: What role does coping with climate change play in the restructuring of forest and nature administration? To what extent are existing actions and routines challenged?
  8. Management theory and uncertainty: How is the problem of ignorance and uncertainty conceptualized in different management theories? What implications arise for the shaping of organizational structures, processes and strategies?
  9. Climate risk maps: Why and how did climate risk maps emerge in the forestry sector? What function(s) do they fulfil in German state forest administrations? How is the problem of uncertainty framed in the context of the development and the application of these maps?
  10. District forest managers & climate change adaptation: How do district forest managers frame, evaluate and tackle the problem of climate change within their area of responsibility?
  11. Private forest owners & climate change adaptation: What kind of a problem is climate change for private forest owners and how do they interact with state forest administrations in this respect?

If you are interested, please get in touch with us: unsicherheit@uni-freiburg.de


Dr. Roderich von Detten
Fenn Faber, M.A.


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