Pioneering projects "Societal Transformations"

area of research: all disciplines
type of funding: inter- and transdisciplinary as well as (inter)national research projects
up to 500.000 Euro
max. 5 years
PhD holders at German universities and research institutions
(inter)national research groups, inter- and transdisciplinary teams possible
additional benefits: funding for communication of science and research; funding for the preparation and storage of research data (data reuse)

project outlines can be submitted at any time

Lawn mower makes a direct path through a hedge maze
(Photo: Fanatic Studio - gettyimages)

In the Profile area "Societal Transformations", the Volkswagen Foundation supports research that addresses diverse aspects of transformation processes. It encourages cross-border and multi-perspective approaches and aims to open up new ways of contributing toward shaping societal transformations. 

Pioneering projects "Societal Transformations"

The Foundation wants to fund research ideas which offer new perspectives on already existing as well as (largely) underresearched and/or emerging societal transformation processes. In addition, also projects are funded that develop ideas or scenarios for transformation processes preparing societies to deal appropriately with future challenges. The Foundation encourages researchers to create transformational knowledge by integrating non-academic stakeholders. This cooperation should contribute to a better understanding of transformation processes and the role of science in these processes.

Funding opportunities

This funding offer addresses researchers of different backgrounds (natural and life sciences, engineering sciences as well as humanities and social sciences) who develop research projects that produce transformational knowledge. 
The Foundation offers experimental spaces for new methods such as explorative learning, creative research, artistic research/artistic dialogues and experiments. Researchers with are invited to establish a dialogue with non-academic actors on societal transformation processes and related research questions. The Foundation encourages researchers to develop projects that are risky and ‘surprising` with regard to its research questions and its research design. All applicants should identify the relevant actor groups for their project within and outside academia. Furthermore, all applicants are encouraged to reflect on their research methods and possible impact of their results on the constitution of transformation processes.


Further information on the criteria of the call as well as the application process can be found here: Information for Applicants 129 (Download, PDF).

Online Q&A (in German)

Are you considering to apply for this scheme? On January 25, 2023 from 10 to 11 am, Silke Bertram and Cora Schaffert-Ziegenbalg will give an introduction to the program and answer questions you might still have. The access data will be published here at least one hour before the event.