Fakultät für Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft

    PPE Institute for Social and Institutional Change (ISIC)

    The PPE Institute for Social and Institutional Change (ISIC) was founded in 2020 by members of the Department for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Witten/Herdecke University. Its mission is to foster and promote the unique approach of PPE research on topics of social and institutional change. PPE research goes beyond multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches by synthesizing philosophy, political studies and economics into a distinctive and transdisciplinary scientific environment. It considers the three fields as interrelated perspectives on social reality. 

    Philosophy offers rigorous analytical tools and methods for normative analyses. Political science provides an awareness of power relations and the legitimacy of institutions. Economics generates knowledge of the production and distribution of wealth, exchange in markets, and their institutional embeddings. To coordinate these three perspectives is a promising strategy for approaching the complexity of social reality. It allows for a richer understanding of the phenomena and thereby creates a more comprehensive research process. Undertaking PPE research means "to think together what belongs together", referring to the interdependencies between the economy, society and politics. Moreover, it means connecting theory and practice in order to make research relevant for policy making.

    With these guiding principles, ISIC is committed to promoting excellence in research that is relevant and internationally visible. ISIC develops formats for scientific exchange with public impact, and participates in practical change projects and initiatives at the interface of philosophy, politics, and economics.

    Regular colloquia
    PPE Conference on Social and Institutional Change
    PPE Young Scholars Award for Social and Institutional Change
    Best Paper Award for Annual PPE Conference (organized by students)
    UWH debates
    ISIC Lecture Series
    PPE research working paper series

    The social is the matrix of all coordinated human interaction. It is permanently changing through innumerable processes of socio-cultural evolution, which occur through human activities. It may be planned, as within the framework of organizational design or political governance. It can be contested through processes involving political struggle, or by existing vested interests. It can be influenced by factors such as competition or economic crises. And in the wake of catalysts such as demographic shifts or climate change it also often occurs in an unplanned and uncontrolled fashion. 

    Social and Institutional Change occurs when a social or institutional structure undergoes a significant transformation amounting to a quantitative or qualitative shift. A “social structure” can be understood as a collection of individuals that stand in significant relationships to another, where these relationships are associated with actions, conventions, and rules. An institution is a (sub-)set of such conventions and rules most generally speaking.

    Social and Institutional Change can be welcome to some and dreaded by others; it can be beneficial or detrimental; it can be faster or slower, more or less risky and more or less predictable. Especially when change is widespread with far-reaching consequences, as evidenced, for example, in the growing list of ecological concerns, the rising rates of inequality, or the increasing incidence of social disruption, and political destabilisation, it is the very institutions governing social change which must be transformed. This provokes pressing and difficult questions: What new forms of governance are emerging? Who are becoming the dominant participants in the public sphere? What are the underlying structural forces driving the change? How do global power relations function today? Which methodological tools and theoretical approaches best equip social scientists to address such queries? How can the perspectives of philosophy, politics and economics be synthesized in order to provide new answers?

    At ISIC we seek to rigorously engage and critically assess the problems and potential of such material and ideological transformations by applying our comprehensive PPE approach. The cross-fertilisation of new ideas and intertwining perspectives fosters new conceptual strains and engenders new research projects. ISIC as a center for PPE research thereby nurtures and gains from a continually fluctuating, rebalancing and heterogeneous environment.

    A this point, the following researchers are internal members of ISIC:


    external member

    Amanda Machin | Photo: private
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    The following researcher is an external members of ISIC:

    Die Universität Witten/Herdecke ist durch das NRW-Wissenschaftsministerium staatlich anerkannt und wird – sowohl als Institution wie auch für ihre einzelnen Studiengänge – regelmäßig akkreditiert durch: