Bioeconomy Shaping the Transition to a Sustainable, Biobased Economy

Feeding a growing population is one of the major challenges of the twenty-first century, a challenge that also prompted the establishment of the University of Hohenheim in 1818. This initiative followed the 1815 eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia, which had a profound impact on global climate, causing two “summers without sun.” The resulting lower temperatures in Europe led to poor crop growth, famine, and riots. To address regional food security, King Wilhelm I of W├╝rttemberg founded an agricultural education and research station at Hohenheim on November 20, 1818, aimed at educating farmers and developing better agricultural production methods.

Since its inception, the University of Hohenheim has grown to encompass three faculties: Agricultural Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Business, Economics, and Social Sciences. The university remains focused on societal and environmental challenges, including food security and climate change. Building on this foundation, the concept of the “bioeconomy” has recently emerged as a central theme at Hohenheim.

The bioeconomy, or “biobased economy,” involves the production of biobased resources and their conversion into food, feed, bioenergy, and biobased materials. This process includes primary production, conversion to higher-value goods via processing, and commercialization. It involves various sectors and integrates different scientific disciplines and stakeholders, making it a fertile ground for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research.

Interdisciplinary research in the bioeconomy at Hohenheim involves collaboration across the biobased value chain, including agricultural science, natural science, economics, and social science. This systemic approach allows for a comprehensive assessment of complex challenges from environmental, social, and economic perspectives. Transdisciplinary approaches further support the bioeconomy’s goal of transitioning from an economy based on fossil fuels to a sustainable economy based on biogenic resources.

Recognizing the growing need for professionals with expertise in the bioeconomy, the University of Hohenheim established the first international Bioeconomy Master program in 2014. This program aims to train experts essential for a successful transition to a bioeconomy.

In celebration of the university’s 200th anniversary, this textbook was created as a collaborative effort by Hohenheim’s educators and students. It explores important aspects of the bioeconomy, offering specialized knowledge in relevant disciplines and the systematic approaches needed to shape bioeconomic projects and activities. The textbook is made available globally to students and professionals dedicated to advancing the bioeconomy for a more sustainable future.



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