We do scientific groundwork for the sustainable development of rural areas.
In this context we assume that many rural regions in Germany will face more demographic, economic and ecological challenges in the future.
In order to provide science-based decision-making support for policymakers, we focus on the following main questions:
We look at rural areas from a territorial perspective in the context of the overall situation. The important role played by agriculture, forestry and the food industry in rural areas is also taken into account. The choice of a territorial perspective makes sense because rural areas are residential areas and living environment for many people in Germany. They fulfil diverse social functions which go far beyond agricultural and forestry production. They are the location of many small and medium enterprises, a place for leisure and recreation and sites of ecological compensation for agglomerations.
Our research mainly focuses on Germany and the EU. In this way we can take a differentiated look at regional diversity in Germany. At the same time, we learn from the experiences in other rural areas within the EU.
We make use of a broad spectrum of methods and theories from economics and the social sciences. We work on an interdisciplinary basis and co-operate with numerous agricultural, spatial, regional and natural science research institutions in Germany and Europe. An interdisciplinary approach is essential if the multi-layered research subject "rural areas" is to be treated in an adequate manner. Our numerous contacts with stakeholders in rural development coupled with scientific independence facilitate access to expert knowledge and experience. This contributes to scientific progress and to recipient-oriented policy advice.
Our research is mainly empirical. We use data from official statistics and secondary data from other sources. Furthermore, we also carry out many quantitative and qualitative data collections of our own.