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IGCS Winter School 2014

The IGCS Winter School 2014 “Sustainability in Theory and Practice – Exploring sustainable development” will take place from March 3 – 16 in Chennai. Deadline extended for Indian Students: 15 Jan 2014. More details you may find below.






Winter School 2014

Sustainability in Theory and Practice –

Exploring sustainable development

3rd March to 16th March 2014

Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai


Objectives of the Winter School

Sustainability seems hard to define except as a vague aspiration pointing towards a utopian future in which social life and the external world live in harmony for all conceivable eternity. In an everyday sense as well, the question of whether one set of practices is more sustainable than another is far from obvious. And, finally, what are our global prospects for achieving sustainable outcomes in the course of this century, in a manner that allows development within climate and biodiversity guardrails, while ensuring social and economic justice?

By way of addressing these questions, in this Winter School we hope to bring together analysts who have made broad conceptual as well as practical attempts to advance ideas on sustainability across different sectors. Thus, we aim to have sessions on de-growth, indicators and measures of sustainability. Exploring these different ways, we hope, will provide an opportunity for synthesis of ideas for new possibilities.









Preliminary Course Schedule


Monday,                  Arrival

03 Mar 2014


Tuesday,                  Opening and Introduction

04 Mar 2014


Wednesday            Morning: Key lectures on ‘Rethinking

05 Mar 2014          Sustainability’, ‘Degrowth’, ‘Markers of

to                             Sustainability’, ‘Sustainability Economics’

Friday,                     Afternoon: Formation of Work groups and

07 Mar 2014          defining of themes for Project Work



Saturday,                Field trip to witness sustainability models

08 Mar 2014          implemented at Auroville/Pondicherry



09 Mar 2014


Monday,                  Morning: Key lectures on ‘Governance for

10 Mar 2014         Sustainability’, ‘Sustainability Law’,

to                              ‘Sustainable Living’,’ ‘Gender and Sustainability’

Thursday,               Afternoon: Discussion on Progress of

13 Mar 2014          Project Work


Friday                      Discussion on Results of Project Work and

14 Mar 2014          Preparation of Project Report



Saturday,                Morning: Presentations of work group results and

15 Mar 2014          wrap-up

Afternoon: Free

Farewell Dinner


Sunday,                   Departure

16 Mar 2014



The course is open to Master and Ph.D. Students in academic fields related to sustainable and urban development. The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 20 (10 German / 10 Indian).


Interested students may apply with the following: (1) a cover letter with contact details, a description of the applicant’s scientific interests and motivation for attending the course, (2) academic CV, (3) a letter of recommendation (from the Head of Department for Indian Students).

Application and enclosures should be sent in PDF file by e-mail to school@igcs-chennai.org until 16th December 2013. Applications received after this date will not be considered. Deadline for Indian students from Indian HEIs and research centres extended: Jan. 15th, 2014.

Evaluation of applications and admission

Applications will be evaluated by the organisers. Accepted applicants will be informed by e-mail by the end-December 2013. German students please address their queries to Ms. Eva Portius portius@igcs-chennai.org


Travel Expenses of German students (Max. 10) will be funded by the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS). Accommodation, local hospitality and local travel will be funded by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM).


The selected Students will be accommodated in the Taramani Guesthouse on IIT Madras campus (two people per room).


The resource personnel for the Winter School includes IGCS Professors, IIT Professors and other selected experts. The course participants will also have the opportunity  to interact with government agencies and NGOs in the topics of the course. The course participants will also have the opportunity to interact with government agencies and NGOs in the topics of the course.

Work Groups

Participants will work in groups of up to 4 members to develop small research projects, prepare reports on their findings and present them to the supervisors for discussion.

Topics to explore

Possible topics by the workgroups, based on interest, may be

  • Evolving Debates and Discourses in the Approaches to Sustainable Development
  • Degrowth and Sustainable Development: Commonalities and Departures
  • Markers of Sustainability: Measuring Sustainability, Judging Progress
  • Sustainable Living: The Building Blocks of Sustainability
  • Gender and Sustainable Development
  • Sustainable Economics: Preventing Faustian Bargains, Promoting Green Economies
  • Sustainability and the Law


IGCS Centre Coordinators

Prof. Dr. Sudhir Chella Rajan, IGCS Centre Coordinator, Head of Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras

Prof. Dr. Rafig Azzam, Head of Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen University

IGCS Staff

Dr. Sasidhar Palagummi, IGCS Senior Scientist, IIT Madras

Ms. Eva Portius, IGCS Project Manager, RWTH Aachen University

IGCS Visiting Professor

Dr. Christoph Woiwode, IGCS Short Term Visiting Professor, IIT Madras

IITM Professors

Dr. Solomon J. Benjamin, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras

IGCS Winter School Flyer 2014



General information

IGCS Schools take place at IIT Madras and German universities on a regular basis since 2012. More than 50 students from India and Germany have taken part. For more information and alumni contacts please send an email to portius[at]igcs-chennai.org.

You may find an interesting report on winter school in Chennai 2012 below and an impression on summer school in Aachen here – or watch the great movie one of the participants made during the school!

Copyright: Martin Lux


IGCS Winterschool 2012 in Chennai

Tim Wolters| Life in India,Research Area | March 22, 2012 2

It was Monday morning, the 20th of February 2012, when the IGCS Winter School members assembled for the first time in front of the Visweswaraya Seminar Hall of the Department of Civil Engineering within IIT Madras Campus. Despite of jetlag, at least amongst the German participants, there were exciting talks from the start making sure the ten Indian and ten German students and graduates forming an interesting group. The Winter School was inaugurated  in presence of IGCS coordinators, Head, Civil Engineering Department and the German consulate members. The programme started with self-introduction of student members from either country, which brought out the diversity in the educational background and their interest in sustainability and environment. The course content comprised of lectures by experts from Waste management, Geography, Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Georesources  and Biotechnology.

In the first week the basis for later projects was established by Indian and German professors giving lectures in sustainability and the main topics water-, waste management energy. Here, it was really helpful to gain insights into both, German and Indian approaches dealing with aspects of environmental sustainability based on the different problems both countries face. There was sufficient time for discussions after and during the lectures facilitating students’ interaction with each other and more detailed questions for certain topics. Even after the lectures, in the evening, many group members still possessed motivation and energy to leave the safe and sheltered life on IIT campus to explore the booming city of Chennai. Visits to temples, churches, restaurants and the beach, mostly recommended by the local IGCS members, lead to quick cohesion and good atmosphere within the group.

After the Winter School’s lecture part was over, five groups were formed on Friday for an exercise. The scenario: A company (first group) plans to set up a biogas plant in a peri-urban region of an Indian city. However, first they would have to negotiate and finally convince the concerned stakeholders (other groups), which are the Environmental NGO’s, Politicians, Farmers and the Civil Movement. The discussion was intense and every group argued imaginatively, able to empathize well with the different acting stakeholders. Finally, the Biogas plant company did not achieve to convince the stubborn and skeptical stakeholders. Anyways, the discussion was fruitful, showing the complexity and many aspects to be recognized when trying to implement an innovative and new technology.

At Saturday, half of the group joined a story trail through Chennai city, a creative alternative to a conventional guidance. Sunday they visited the nearby beach town of Mahabalipuram. On Monday the Winterschool started again with the one-week student projects.

The 20 members were divided into four groups, considered there is a mix of Indian and German students and a mix of discipline specialization, which was not hard concerning the great variety of educational backgrounds. The groups worked in the four fields of water use, waste management, energy and CO2 emissions concerning the major question: How to make the IITM campus more sustainable? The exercise sounds rather harmless for a layman. However, knowing about the issue’s complexity from the first week’s lectures the IGCS members faced lots of work within a rough time schedule. Everyone was little experienced in working within such a diverse group which made it rather hard to find consensus at the beginning. In the course of the week this condition went into reverse, thus it was possible to benefit from the interdisciplinary groups. Investigating the campus area, conducting surveys, making rough estimated calculations, researching in literature and creatively finding solution approaches were the main tasks and challenges for the groups. At the end of the Winterschool each group presented their elaborated results in front of the auditorium. Result details were committed in papers, which are available on demand from the IGCS Winterschool initiators Prof. Kristin Steger and Prof. Peter Fiener.

After the completion of the project work the group started for a trip to Auroville on Saturday morning. It is a small coastal village close to Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu founded in 1968 by environment-conscious people coming from different nationalities. The aim of the founders and inhabitants is to break with consumerism and find new and better ways of living. Besides spirituality, education and collaborative mindset (abolishing of any hierarchies) creative research in sustainable technologies is an important point in their system. For the Winterschool group it was a good chance to see how sustainability could be put into praxis. As there is a lot of money and also fossil energies used to keep the system going, Auroville is not the perfect role model for a full-sustainable village, yet. However, there are many good approaches to achieve this goal, like building energy-efficient houses, using biomass and the sun for power generation, as well as implementing biological wastewater treatment plants.

On the whole, the first IGCS Winterschool was a great experience. Getting a deeper insight in the problems and potentials of environmental sustainability, having a good time with fellow students and working with them to achieve good and fruitful results in the project work, made this Winterschool participation truly worthwhile. It is to be recommended for anyone planning to apply for the next programs.