Autor: Alexander.Menz

IGCS Winter School 2020

Rahul G. Rajkarnikar, CAU Kiel

My name is Rahul. I am from Kathmandu, Nepal. I am a Master’s student in Environmental Management at CAU Kiel, and I was a participant for the IGCS Winter School 2020 at IIT Madras. I had spent two weeks in Chennai traveling, learning, exploring new ideas, and meeting incredibly talented people. This is the story of my experience.

The lecture series integrated multidisciplinary views of urbanization and land questions to define sustainability both within the city premises and its periphery. It stressed the importance of addressing the rapidly blurring boundaries between cities, small towns, and rural areas, presenting a new terminology called periurbanisation.

The Winter School took me from Chennai’s lively streets to the serenity of Ennore, where the kind hearts of the locals keep the region warm. I was introduced to the South Indian architecture’s greatness, the taste of their legendary cuisine, and the marvels of the landscape it holds. There is a unique sense of wonder to witness sunrises from the ocean, as if gods underneath were bestowing us their gifts every morning.

IGCS showed me that the pressing environmental issues are hidden in plain sight, behind what we perceive as ‘every-day normalcy.’


The Winter School started with an important question: “Who gets to define what is sustainability?”

During the school, Dr. Chella notably stated that the term ‘Sustainable Development’ is not a fact, but rather a value. And it is imperative to recognize how communities define their value. Therein lies the challenge with the concept. Sustainability is more opinionated than quantifiable. Science alone cannot define it.

And, this, in turn, leads us to more questions-

“What are we ought to do then?”
“Is sustainability even possible?”
“Should our current lifestyle compromise life in the future?” or,
“Should we turn a blind eye to the needs of the current generation for the sake of the future?”
“How do we prioritize someone’s need over another?”

For me, this was a significant shift in perception from a belief in the existing theories and frameworks to lead the sustainability movement to a grounded reality. Science tends to take a back seat in the real world. Environment is a delicate machine whose routine operations are easily affected by external and often social factors.

Hence, perhaps, the most important question to solve sustainability issues could be simplified‒
“Why can’t we just get along?”

Seminar Structure

The school introduced us to technological tools and social-scientific frameworks that allowed us to assess the ongoing environmental conflicts and predict future risks in Chennai.

Every working day was essentially categorized into two segments. The first half was for the interdisciplinary lectures on sustainability delivered by environmental specialists from both Indian and German institutes. The latter half was then dedicated to “Action learning’ workshops that focused on project development based on theoretical learning from the sessions earlier. For this purpose, participants were divided into groups containing at least 5 members. At the end of the school, each group was required to present their respective projects’ findings.

Key Learnings

The seminars’ education was highly encouraging, primarily through testimonies of individuals who have dedicated their lives to environmental causes. Their experiences were thought-provoking and added new dimensions of possible future challenges to consider in this field.

The seminars’ key highlights made me wary of our unpredictable and complex relationship with the environment. Conventional regulation measures have often led to unprecedented consequences. I believe this case reinforces Yuval Noah Harari’s quote from his book ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century:’

“Humans were always far better at inventing tools than using them wisely.”

Another crucial takeaway point from the school was the importance of grassroots level participation in any environmental movement. There needs to be a great deal of trust between different sustainability actors at various levels to ensure that environmental policies have their desired outcome.

There is excellent potential to incentivize people with opportunities to improve their own living standards that also benefit the environment. Hence, I would like to continue in this direction by trying to find ways that answer the question:

“How do we institutionalize the local responsibility movement so that it encompasses a larger section of the polarized community?”

Looking Back

The overall Winter School experience was incredible and overwhelmingly unique. I was exposed to a completely different world. There is simply something majestic about sharing a glance with a stranger on the streets, recognizing that this will be our only interaction, possibly in this lifetime. Yet, in those brief moments, they told me a story about their life in this unique part of the world.

I came to Chennai alone. But I left making a lot of friends and memories worth a lifetime.

Research Assistant (PostDoc) – salary grade E13 TV-L Berliner Hochschulen

part-time employment may be possible

Our background:

In 2010, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) and several German universities jointly established the IndoGerman Centre for Sustainability (IGCS), located on the IITM campus in Chennai (India), as a platform for international academic exchange and interdisciplinary research collaboration on major sustainable development issues. In Germany, the IGCS activities are supported by the ‘TU9’ group of Technical Universities (led by RWTH Aachen University) and Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel. Focus areas of sustainability education and research relate to water (Kiel University), waste (TU Stuttgart), land use and rural/urban development (RWTH Aachen), as well as energy (TU Berlin).
The IGCS is part of the initiative “A New Passage to India” by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and receives funding from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) via DAAD and from the Dept. of Science and Technology, Government of India. Since its inception, the IGCS offers short-term Winter/Summer Schools on various sustainability topics, workshop participations, as well as short- and long-term research stays to students and researchers both from India and Germany at IGCS Chennai or the German partner universities. German and IITM academic staff closely collaborate both in teaching and research.

At the Chair of Energy Process Engineering and Conversion Technologies for Renewable Energies research and networking activities between India and Germany concerning the topic of energy should be developed (further). This also includes spending several months a year at IIT Madras. Thereby, under consideration of already existing research fields at the department, the following priorities should be set:

  • Resilience of power grids
  • Biomass and organic waste for the energy sector
  • Desalination of seawater

Furthermore, a key task is networking with partner institutions, which includes state agencies in India and Germany as well as the consolidation of existing networks within the IGCS, and the promotion of research and teaching cooperation. This includes own teaching activities at the IIT Madras. Additionally, the objective is to form a close interaction with the other IGCS core areas.

Faculty III – Institute for Energy Technology / Energy Process Engineering and Conversion Technologies for
Renewable Energies

Reference number: III-531/20 (starting at the earliest possible / until 31/12/22 / closing date for applications 04/12/20)

Working field:

You should conduct research projects and teaching together with IGCS colleagues in different formats (e.g. lectures at IITM and your home university in Germany, create content for workshops, teach and supervise Summer and Winter School students). With the support of the Indian and German project coordinators, you will actively contribute to organizing events. Furthermore, you will be a point of contact for exchange students and scientists who are planning their stay in Chennai. The majority of your work time you are required to spend at the IGCS office at IITM in Chennai, at least six of twelve months and preferably all year. You will be able to solicit research grants in Germany (e.g. DFG, industry) and collaborate with IGCS’ area coordinators in Indian research projects, engage in IGCS activities and support in teaching.


  • Successfully completed university degree (Master, Diplom or equivalent) and PhD degree and offer a strong research track record in any of the above-mentioned field of sustainable research (Resilience of power grids, Biomass and organic waste for the energy sector, Desalination of seawater)
  • Experience in teaching her/his subject
  • Fluent in English and German


  • Ability and willingness to travel to India for several months


  • Work-abroad experience and knowledge of the region

You are expected to engage in interdisciplinary research and to design your own project ideas and focus areas in India.

Please send your application with the reference number and the usual documents (combined in a single pdf file, max. 5 MB) by email to Prof. Dr. Frank Behrendt (

By submitting your application via email you consent to having your data electronically processed and saved. Please note that we do not provide a guaranty for the protection of your personal data when submitted as unprotected file.
Please find our data protection notice acc. DSGVO (General Data Protection Regulation) at the TU staff department homepage: or quick access 214041.

To ensure equal opportunities between women and men, applications by women with the required qualifications are explicitly desired. Qualified individuals with disabilities will be favored. The TU Berlin values the diversity of its members and is committed to the goals of equal opportunities.

Technische Universität Berlin – Der Präsident – Fakultät III, Institut für Energietechnik, FG Energieverfahrenstechnik und Umwandlungstechniken regenerativer Energien, Prof. Dr. Frank Behrendt, Sekr. GG 1, Seestr. 13, 13353 Berlin

The vacancy is also available on the internet at

EU-India research perspectives on Plastic Waste

A virtual seminar co-hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to India and
the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in New Delhi
Thursday 22 October 2020 at 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm IST (11.30 am – 13.00 pm CET)

3.00 – 3.05 pm ISTOpening Address by the Ambassador of the European Union to India,
H.E. Mr Ugo Astuto, on ‘EU-India Strategic Partnership committed to
green the economies’
3.05 – 3.10 pmOpening Address by the German Ambassador to India, H.E. Mr Walter J.
, on ‘Plastic waste and citizen science under the German
Presidency of the European Union’
3.10 – 3.25 pmMs Sieglinde Gruber, Head of Unit, Marine Resources, Directorate-
General for Research & Innovation, European Commission: ‘Plastic
waste research activities under EU research and innovation
3.25 – 3.35 pmDr Pravakar Mishra, Scientist – F, National Centre for Coastal Research
(NCCR), Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, Chennai:
‘Ongoing marine litter and micro-plastics research at NCCR’
3.35 – 3.50 pmDr Katrin Knickmeier, Director, The Kiel Science Factory, University of
Kiel: ‘Plastic Pirates: A pan-European citizen science approach to plastic
waste in waterways with global relevance’
3.50 – 4.05 pmDr R. Vinu, Associate Professor, Indo-German Centre for Sustainability,
IIT Madras: ‘Novel Waste-to-Energy Technologies in the Indian Context’
4.05 – 4.25 pmQ&A
4.25 – 4.30 pmConcluding remarks with next steps and opportunities