Natural Hazards

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 117–127 | Cite as

Social-ecological resilience thinking as a bridging concept in transdisciplinary research on climate-change adaptation

  • Sonja Deppisch
  • Sanin Hasibovic
Original Paper


This paper explores the advantages of applying the concept of social-ecological resilience (SER) and the related thinking in transdisciplinary research. The theoretical reflections are exemplified by transdisciplinary research experiences using the concept of SER as a bridging concept in the field of climate-change adaptation instead of developing a new and very context-specific conceptual bridge. The findings are based on ontological reflections concerning the complex and hybrid phenomenon of climate change and the need for transdisciplinary research as well as on reflections on the performed interdisciplinary research and the exploratory transdisciplinary research approach with practitioners from the German administration. The experiences so far have shown that it was more focused on the general ideas of social-ecological resilience thinking instead of using the concept of SER as an analytical tool. We conclude that the use of a common conceptual framework in general and of social-ecological resilience thinking in particular offers tangible advantages in transdisciplinary research dealing with climate change and adaptation to the impacts of climate change. In our case, social-ecological resilience thinking helped—after translation into practical terms—to open the field for further consideration from the very beginning as well as to open the space for common creative work; to define the problem; and to choose the relevant variables to look at.


Social-ecological resilience thinking Transdisciplinary research Bridging concept Climate-change adaptation 



The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editors of the special issue for their very helpful comments, the research group plan B:altic and Kaitlyn Rathwell for ongoing discussions. The research is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education through the Social-Ecological Research Programme (FKZ 01UU0909).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HafenCity University HamburgHamburgGermany

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