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Leonie Interview



Leonie Reuter: Freie Universität Berlin
Disaster Research Institut (DRU),
Sociology of Climate Change 

1. What is your field of research?

My background is in sociology, but the boundaries with other disciplines such as political science or human geography are fluid. In the last few years, I have mainly worked on social science issues of climate change, such as collective interpretation patterns of climate change, structural barriers to mitigation, and conflicts of socio-environmental transformation. More recently, I have turned to the topic of climate change adaptation, where I am particularly interested in the social contestations over the necessity, design and justice of adaptation measures. If you ask me to give it a name, I would call this field of research the 'sociology of climate change'.

2. Why are you participating in "Berlin is looking for the Sciencefluencer 2024"?

Although I belong to the generation of so-called digital natives, I still feel like a stranger when it comes to using social media networks both for personal and professional purposes. As a result, I also have hesitated to actively engage with them as a platform for science communication. However, I strongly believe in the importance of making science accessible not only in scientific journals, but also in the digital world, where results can be received and discussed by a wider audience. Therefore, the BUA Sciencefluencer program was a great incentive for me to take on this challenge, overcome my inner hurdles, and acquire the basic know-how to contribute to digital science communication.

3. What challenges do you face when you become a science influencer?

Speaking to an invisible audience, especially on issues that polarize society and evoke strong emotions, requires a certain amount of courage. So, the first step is to find that courage. Once you've found it, the challenge shifts to finding the time to craft a text that meets your expectations. And finally, even with both courage and time at your disposal, the hurdle remains of articulating your thoughts appropriately - striking the right balance between conciseness and depth, complexity and simplicity. Undoubtedly, this is no easy task.

4. What are your most important findings in your particular field of research?

It's hard to say what that one outstanding finding is. Maybe I just have to be patient because it is yet to come? Over the past year, I have probably learned the most from an in-depth literature review on the social barriers hindering the effective translation of widespread commitment to climate protection into actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. I was able to systematize a wide range of explanatory approaches from different strands of research that are otherwise not necessarily related. I think that such syntheses can serve as a useful basis for further debate in both the academic and policy communities.

5. What are your goals for the future?

A very down-to-earth yet ambitious goal is to preserve the spirit of curiosity, the joy of discovery, and a touch of idealism in research - all while navigating the realities of academia with its temporary contracts, conflicting funding logics, and pressures for efficiency. Successfully achieving this first goal may well pave the way for a more formal goal: completing my Ph.D.