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Universität Osnabrück
Institut für Umweltsystemforschung
Barbarastr. 12
49076 Osnabrück

Raum 66/E10
Tel: +49 541 969 2297
Fax: +49 541 969 2599

Dr. Dr. Johannes Halbe

Dipl.-Ing., B.A. Econ.

Interim Professor for Resource Management
Lead of Transformative Research Group


Research Interests

  • Participatory model building using system thinking, fuzzy cognitive mapping and system dynamics modeling
  • Modeling and assessment of sustainability visions at multiple scales
  • Coupling of system dynamics models to biophysical models
  • Multi-level governance of co-transformation processes towards sustainable water, food and energy supply systems (transforming the water-energy-food nexus)
  • Co-design of instititutional and organizational structures for transformative research and environmental stewardship



Up-scaling of sustainability innovations to foster biodiversity in grasslands

  • Type: Research Project
  • Funding Agency: Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)
  • Role: Working group leader
  • Link: Project description
  • Duration: Oct 2022 - Dec 2023

Transformative Landscape Management to Improve Water Quality and Protect Ecosystem Services in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

  • Type: Research Project
  • Funding Agency: Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)
  • Role: Project coordinator and working group leader
  • Link: Project description
  • Duration: Jan 2020 - Aug 2024

University in the Anthropocene: Lighthouse adaptation and transfer for Sustainable Development (LATERNE)

  • Type: Research Project
  • Funding Agency: Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)
  • Role: Working group leader
  • Link: Project description
  • Duration: Nov 2022 - Oct 2025

Transformative research and capacity building in the education sector to protect livelihoods and biodiversity in Costa Rica

  • Type: Networking Project
  • Funding Agencies: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and Development, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
  • Role: Member of leadership team
  • Link:
  • Duration: Jan 2020 - Dec 2024

Protection of Resources through Fostering Innovation in the Logistics Sector

  • Type: Research Project
  • Funding Agency: Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)
  • Role: Working group leader
  • Link:
  • Link to Storymap
  • Duration: Feb 2020 - Jan 2023

Development of a strategy for transdisciplinary education at the University of Osnabrück 

  • Type: Teaching Project
  • Funding: LehrZeit Initiative, University of Osnabrück
  • Role: Project coordinator
  • Duration: Oct 2020 - Dec 2021

Developing improved social-ecological scenarios for biodiversity and ecosystem service changes in north temperate freshwater ecosystems over the next half century (LimnoScenES)

  • Type: Research Project
  • Funding Agencies: Belmont Forum and German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • Role: In advisory capacity mainly related to the participatory process in Germany
  • Link:
  • Duration: Feb 2019 - Dec 2022





Recent Publications

Halbe, J., & Adamowski, J. (2022). Bridging technical, ecological and social–economic knowledge in engineering design. Engineering Sustainability 176(2), 106-114.

  • Presents a methodology for engineering design that allows for the joint consideration of  technical, ecological and social–economic solutions
  • The methodology applies participatory systems thinking and system dynamics modeling
  • An application of the methodology is provided dealing with sustainable water management in Cyprus

Halbe, J. (2021). Participatory modelling in sustainability transitions research. In: E. A.
Moallemi, F. J. de Haan (Eds.), Modelling Transitions: Virtues, Vices, Visions of the
Future. Routledge, pp. 182-206. Link to Book

  • The book chapter presents a review of the state-of-the-art of participatory modelling in transitions research and identifying promising future research directions.
  • The review is structured by a framework that defines key dimensions of participatory modelling including different model uses, modes of knowledge capture and exchange, timing of stakeholder involvement and methods applied.
  • Future research should address the gaps identified in this review, which are related to co-construction participatory modeling (i.e., involving stakeholders during the whole duration of the modeling process), the co-management mode of knowledge capture and exchange (i.e., involving stakeholders in knowledge synthesis and decision-making), semi-quantitative modeling methods and process design frameworks.

Halbe, J., Holtz, G., & Ruutu, S. (2020). Participatory modeling for transition governance: Linking methods to process phases. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 35, 60-76. Link to Article

  • Six phases of transition governance are defined stemming from reflexive governance, transition management and adaptive management.
  • The review links participatory modeling methods to these transition governance phases.
  • Participatory modeling studies in transition research and related fields of social-ecological modeling, integrated assessment and environmental management were reviewed.
  • The review shows the potential for extending the application of participatory modeling methods to additional phases of transition governance and for the exchange of experiences between research fields.

Halbe, J., & Pahl-Wostl, C. (2019). A Methodological Framework to Initiate and Design Transition Governance Processes. Sustainability 11(3), 844. Link to Article

  • This article presents a methodological framework for the initiation and design of transition governance processes.
  • Based upon a conceptualization of sustainability transitions as multilevel learning processes, the methodological framework includes participatory modeling, a systematic literature review and governance system analysis to identify social units (learning subjects and contexts), challenges (learning objects) and intervention points (learning factors) relevant for initiating case-specific transition governance processes.
  • A case study on sustainable food systems in Ontario, Canada is provided to exemplify the application of the methodological framework.

Halbe, J., & Adamowski, J. (2019). Modeling sustainability visions: A case study of multi-scale food systems in Southwestern Ontario. Journal of environmental management, 231, 1028-1047. Link to Article

  • This article proposes an innovative methodological framework for vision design and assessment (VDA) to analyze the sustainability of future visions on multiple scales with consideration of ecosystem services, and to test their plausibility based upon expert and local knowledge.
  • First, requirements and functions of visionary system designs are identified. Second, a functional organizational analysis defines structures and processes that generate functions. Third, the system structures of visionary system designs is analyzed using causal loop diagrams. Fourth, fuzzy cognitive mapping is used to assess visions based upon sustainability indicators.
  • A case study on sustainable food systems in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, is provided to demonstrate the application of the methodology

Halbe, J., Pahl-Wostl, C. & Adamowski, J., 2018. A methodological framework to support the initiation, design and institutionalization of participatory modeling processes in water resources management. Journal of Hydrology 556, 701-716. Link to Article

  • This article presents a stepwise methodological framework that addresses the challenges of context-sensitive initiation, design and institutionalization of participatory modeling processes.
  • The methodological framework consists of five successive stages: (1) problem framing and stakeholder analysis, (2) process design, (3) individual modeling, (4) group model building, and (5) institutionalized participatory modeling.
  • A case study on water quality management in Québec is provided.

Halbe, J., Knüppe, K., Knieper, C. & Pahl-Wostl, C., 2018. Towards an integrated flood management approach to address trade-offs between ecosystem services: Insights from the Dutch and German Rhine, Hungarian Tisza, and Chinese Yangtze basins. Journal of Hydrology 559, 984-994. Link to Article

  • The article analyses how flood management has dealt with trade-offs between ecosystem services and practical constrains towards more ecosystem-based solutions.
  • The evolution of flood management and impacts on ecosystem services are analyzed in four case studies in the Dutch and German Rhine, the Hungarian Tisza, and the Chinese Yangtze basins during the last decades.
  • Results show a trend in flood management practice towards the combination of different paradigms under the umbrella of integrated flood management, which aims at utilizing synergies between ecosystem services and finding the most suitable solution depending on the respective regional conditions.

All Publications



  • Transdisciplinary methods (until 2020 "Participatory modeling") (winter terms 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018; summer terms 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)

    Concepts: Transformative research; Transdisciplinarity; Social learning; Group model buidling, Mediated modeling
    Methods:            Role playing games; Systems Thinking; System Dynamics; Fuzzy Cogintive Mapping; Serious Games
    Course design: Lectures, Exercises, Transdisciplinary project on a local issue (e.g., strategies to support cycling in the city; renewable energy management; food awareness)

  • Human-Nature Relationships (winter terms 2022, 2023)

    Goal: Introduction to sustainability topics including planetary boundaries, human-environment relationships, value-action gap, transformative research, sustainability visions, Sustainable Development Goals, post-growth economics, up-scaling of innovations
    Application areas: Landscape planning and management; sustainable water, energy and food systems; water-energy-food nexus

  • Seminar on Geography of Transitions (winter 2021)
  • Data-based Modeling (summer term 2019)
  • Seminar on Sustainability Transitions (winter 2019)
  • Social Network Analysis (summer term 2017)
  • Environmental Risk Assessment (summer terms 2013, 2015, 2017)
  • Seminar on scientific writing and presentation (winter term 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Seminar on "Uncertainties in Resource Management" (winter term 2011): Typology of uncertainties; Adaptive resource management; Approaches to deal with uncertainties in environmental modeling
  • Transitions in Human-Technology-Environment Systems (summer term 2011): Problem-based learning on sustainability transitions



Supervised Theses


Patricia Schattan (Ph.D.): Start in April 2020. Ph.D. research addresses the role of the logistics sector to foster regional resilience.


Completed (selected)

Hannes Wender (M.Sc.): "Mobilität und Logistik in Co-Transformation – Systemanalyse von Nachhaltigkeitsvisionen im urbanen und regionalen Raum."

Daniel Baudach (M.Sc.): Transformative Forschung mit System: Partizipative Modellierung zur effektiven Gestaltung der Schnittstelle zwischen Universität und Region am Beispiel der Mobilitätswende.

Svenja Ellermann (B.Sc.): CO2-Senke Boden: Partizipative Modellierung zu Chancen und Hindernissen einer regenerativen Landnutzung.

Lisa Stibale (M.Sc.): Landwirtschaftliche Innovationen groß gedacht – Räumliche Bewertung der Ökosystemleistungen von Landnutzungsvisionen.

Marie Eißling (M.Sc.): "Development of a Methodology for Modelling and Comparison of Sustainability Visions from a Nexus Perspective"

Carolin Janssen (M.Sc.): "Embracing pluralistic worldviews and humannature relations in sustainability transitions - A methodological framework to explore cross-cultural visions for sustainable food supply systems"

Pia Müller (M.Sc.): "Sustainable vision modeling using fuzzy cognitive mapping – Sustainable food systems in the in the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica"

Jenny Rogalski (M.Sc.): "Rückenwind für Nachhaltigkeitspioniere -
Regionales Innovationsmanagement zur Förderung einer sozial-ökologischen Transformation"

Nico Sachs (M.Sc.): "Förderung von Nachhaltigkeitsinnovationen in der Landwirtschaft - Design von fallspezifischen Transformationsprozessen am Beispiel des Erwerbsobstanbaus im Alten Land"

Lars-Hendrik Seidel (B.Sc.): "Das Potential von Story-Maps in der transformativen
Forschung - Anwendung auf die Kommunikation von Visionen für eine nachhaltige Logistik"

Jannis de Riz (B.Sc.): "What is the potential of data-driven fuzzy cognitive mapping? - Analyzing the barriers to energetic refurbishment in Germany"

Aljoscha Born (M.Sc.): "Partizipative Modellierung zur Bewertung von Zukunftsvisionen - Eine Analyse von resilienten Energiesystemen in Deutschland"

Benjamin Dörrenbacher (M.Sc.): "Vision Modeling of a Renewable Energy System in Cyprus — A System Dynamics Modeling Approach"

Jan Sodoge (M.Sc.): "Participatory modelling for investigating the complexity of social, demographic and cultural issues linked to the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in the Omo-Turkana Basin"

Anouk Firle (M.Sc.): "Sustainability transitions in the digital age - Participatory modeling to identify intervention points for implementing sustainable digital innovations"

Willem Rill (M.Sc.): "How Can System Dynamics Transform Society? Integrated Strategy Development for the System Dynamics Society"

Nikkola Lenski (M.Sc.): "Nachhaltigkeitspotenziale der digitalen Transformation - quantitative Analyse eines Mittelstandsunternehmens" (second supervisor, first supervisor: Prof. Sandra Rosenberger University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück)

Fabian Vormann (M.Sc.): "Nutzung von Ökosystemdienstleistungen in der Raumplanung zur Erhöhung der Klimaresilienz im Landkreis Friesland"

Nils Eikemeier (M.Sc.): "A Participatory Modeling Approach to understanding the Role of Social, Demographic and Cultural Issues in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus – Application to a Case Study in the Zambezi River Basin"

Simon Hötten (B.Sc.): "Taking participatory modeling online - Design of an interactive web application supporting social learning"

Julian Maguhn (M.Sc.): "Vielfalt auf bäuerlichen Höfen - Dimensionen und Chancen landwirtschaftlicher Produkt(ions)vielfalt jenseits des Weltmarkts" (second supervisor, first supervisor: Prof. Reinhard Pfriem, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg)

Ursula Jehle (M.Sc.): "Die Relevanz von lokalem Wissen im Hochwassermanagement – Vergleichende Fallstudie in Georgsmarienhütte und Grenzach-Wyhlen"

Hagen Daum (M.Sc.): "Integrierte Bewertung der Postwachstumsgesellschaft auf Basis des World3-Modells"

Stefan Gausling (M.Sc.): "Systemtechnologie Power-to-Gas als integratives Element der Energiewende - Technikfolgenabschätzung unter Verwendung  von System Dynamics"

Sebastian Weide (M.Sc.): "Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping zur Analyse von kognitiven Hindernissen der Energiewende im Raumwärmebereich – Warum bleibt die energetische Sanierungsrate hinter ihren Erwartungen zurück?"

Christina Velonis (M.Sc.): "Der Water-Food-Energy Nexus in Zypern – Intersektorale Analyse zur Bestimmung nachhaltiger Entwicklunsgpfade"