The Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainable Futures (CJSF) at Franklin University Switzerland supports research, teaching, and community activities at the intersection of cultural practices and the environment.

Image: © Alison Pouliot


Our focus grows from the conviction that to engage effectively with the environmental and societal challenges facing today's world, researchers and educators need to work together not only across the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities, but also beyond university walls. Finding solutions for a world increasingly shaped by climate change and social injustice requires stakeholders to collaborate with one another across generations, between town and gown, and among disciplines. Our mission is to provide a vibrant platform to bring together interested researchers, artists and authors, students, alumni and community leaders to conduct research, and collaborate on projects, events and educational and outreach initiatives across Switzerland and Europe.


The CJSF acts as an educational hub for Franklin's programs in Social Justice and Sustainability, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, Art History and Visual Culture and the Zurich Program in Sustainable Cities. These programs allow students to explore issues of sustainability and justice through the lenses of literature, art, history, cultural studies, film, creative writing and environmental sciences/studies, encouraging the exchange of ideas across the ever-changing definitions of what it means to be environmentally and socially sustainable in the various domains of human activities.

Franklin is committed to an interpretation of the liberal arts that is both topic-based and hands-on. We encourage our undergraduate and graduate students to go beyond the classroom in a number of programs, including our signature Academic Travel program, our Zurich Program and our internship program In the Environmental Humanities, to understand how to apply different kinds of knowledge and different disciplinary perspectives to the world. This sort of experiential learning helps us conceptualize thoughtful and effective responses to climate change and environmental injustice.

The CJSF supports research projects among undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, professors, and members of different local and national communities, and builds networks among researchers and practitioners at universities across Europe and Switzerland, and North America through research collaborations, conferences, lecture series and the Sustainable Cities Forum, a symposium dedicated to student research that takes place every May at Franklin University Switzerland. The ambition of the CJSF is to educate change agents for a just, climate-friendly and ecological future.


We invite and support research from inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives, including artistic practices, and we encourage our faculty, our postdocs and our students to tackle environmental and social justice problems through the combined lenses of narrative, film, art, history, environmental and justice studies.

Current research projects address topics such as change agents in Swiss biodiversity, urban sustainability, refugee studies, migration and social justice, and soil. Our researchers have received grants from the Bundesamt für Umwelt (The Federal Office for the Environment, FOEN), the SAGUF, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and Franklin University's Faculty Development Fund.

One of the ongoing projects is called "Affective Narratives in the Age of Environmental Degradation," which is led by Pascal Schwaighofer and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The project is centered around the emotional reactions that narratives can elicit regarding climate change.


Education for Sustainable Development

Who owns Sustainable Development Goals? The easy answer up until now has typically been Science and Economics. The former aims to monitor climate change and solutions to sustainability while preserving our lifestyle: the progress in renewable energy is a good example. The latter seeks to finance science and find new business models. But so far they have not been able to halt climate change or bring about lasting sustainability. In brief, both natural science and economics must reinvent themselves to be part of a new way of thinking.


Time for a biodiversity turn in sustainability science

Christoph Kueffer, Manuela Di Giulio, Katrin Hauser, Caroline Wiedmer

For a society to emerge in which people make money through restoration rather than through the destruction of nature, closer dialogue between sustainability science and socially diverse biodiversity conservation is needed.


Maritime Poetics: From Coast to Hinterland

A new publication on contemporary artistic research related to maritime and global transformations.

In the past fifty years, port cities around the world have experienced considerable changes to their morphologies and their identities. The increasing intensification of global networks and logistics, and the resulting pressure on human societies and earthly environments have been characteristic of the rise of a ‘planetary age.’

The volume “Maritime Poetics: from Coast To Hinterland” arose from a scholarly and artistic encounter, organized by TETI Group in 2018 in parallel to the exhibition “Hinterland: the eyes of the lighthouse, blood as a rover”, at Corner College, Zurich, curated by Professors Gabriel N. Gee and Anne-Laure Franchette.


It argues that contemporary artistic practices and critical poetics trace an alternate construction of the imaginaries and aspirations of our present societies at the crossroads of sea and land, considering complex pasts and interconnected histories, transnational flux, as well as material and immaterial borders.

Structured in four parts – Work and Leisure in the Port City; Commerce; Metabolic Pressure; and Dreamscapes – the publication brings together texts by scholars and artists, reflecting on contemporary artistic research and cultural narratives related to maritime and global transformations.

Professors Gabriel N. Gee and Caroline Wiedmer are both faculty members at Franklin University Switzerland. Professor Gee holds a PhD in contemporary art history from the Université Paris-X and teaches contemporary art history and theory, while Professor Wiedmer holds a PhD in comparative literature from Princeton University and teaches comparative literature, film studies, and cultural studies.

The encounter as well as the publication have received the support of the Swiss Research Foundation.

“Maritime Poetics: from Coast To Hinterland” is available in open access on Transcript’s website; it can also be purchased in print through the publishing house.

Prof. Gabriel Gee in Mobile Soils

Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Communications Gabriel Gee has recently coedited a collection of essays reflecting on the mobile ground beneath our feet, questioning the soil as both material and narrative in our interconnected territories: Mobile Soils. Texts by artists, curators, historians, engineers, environmental scientists, architects, gardeners and poets peer into the bright and dark worlds of the underground, look at memories and resilience on the ground, industry, migration and spectral presences on the overground. Throughout, authors revisit their own practice confronted to present earthly attachments and ecological pressure.


This publication is the first one of TETI Press, set up by Professor Gee himself. TETI Press furthers the activity of TETI Group through publications engaging with industrial and cultural transformations of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Mobile Soils also also features an essay of Franklin Co-Chair of the academic division of Arts and Cultures, Professor Caroline Wiedmer, as well as an interview of Franklin Chair of the academic division of Environment, Math, Psychology and Health Professor Brack Hale by Moriah Simonds, class of 21.

Why not promote promotion for green consumption? The controversial role of regulatory focus

The purpose of this paper is to empirically test the effects of regulatory focus (RF) orientation (promotion/prevention) on decisions to purchase green products. The two experimental studies conducted aimed to test whether individuals in a prevention (promotion) state were more (or less) inclined to buy green products.


Time Horizon and Green Consumption

This study investigates the effect of time horizon in patterns of green consumption. Previous studies have shown that consumer behavior is influenced by an individual’s willingness to delay or expedite receiving gains and losses (i.e., take a time horizon orientation). This paper describes the effect of short-term or long-term conditions in complying with green and not-green consumption. The paper also reports the results of an experimental study showing that time horizon plays an important role in driving consumer behavior, especially when green consumption is expected.


Being green: from attitude to actual consumption

Interest in issues associated with environmental sustainability is continuously growing and sustainable consumption is now a mainstream topic at the top of the international public administration agenda. However, the many studies about the general inconsistency between green consumer attitudes and green consumption have not considered two individual differences that seem to be interesting in order to explain the ethical consumer attitude–intention gap: regulatory focus and time horizon.


Regulatory focus, being the strategic orientation individuals use to pursue their goals, might enhance consumers’ sense of duty towards environmental issues. Time horizon represents the consumers’ perceived time lag between their decision and its outcome, and can induce them to immediately engage in a specific behaviour. With this goal in mind, the present work illustrates the results of three experimental studies that focus on individual differences (regulatory focus and time horizon) that might influence consumers to comply with green consumption. Results show that prevention-focused individuals demonstrate a higher compliance with green behaviour, both in the short-term and in the long-term outcome horizons.


The great Millennials’ trouble: leading or confused green generation? An Italian insight

The paper purpose is to investigate the green consumption behaviour of the Millennials generation. The paper aims to understand if all Italian Millennials are similar in terms of green consumption and if there are diferences in adopting and consuming green products. As Millennials are considered the driving generation of the sustainable movement, thanks to their lifestyle and behaviours, our study tries to comprehend whether these consumers can be considered the leading “Green Generation”.


We performed a cluster analysis, using the non-hierarchical method by applying the k-medium algorithm, segmenting Millennials. The segmentation was performed according to the reasons underlying and against green consumption. Then, green values and green consumer behaviour of the segments were analyzed. The results of our research reveal the existence of diferent clusters of Millennial consumers in terms of green attitude. Some confusion about green issues in the Millennials generation emerges, contrasting with the literature. Our results do not necessarily imply a negative attitude towards green values by Millennials, but diferent green attitudes among the clusters.



Retooling Knowledge | September 9 – 12, 2021

Retooling Knowledge: Sustainable Development Goals from the Perspective of the Environmental Humanities
A symposium held at Franklin University Switzerland (FUS), Lugano (Switzerland)



Caroline Wiedmer
Co-Director, Professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Christoph Kueffer
Co-Director, Affiliate Professor of Environmental Humanities

Gabriel Gee
Professor of Art History, Franklin University Switzerland

Johanna Fassl
Professor of Art History, Franklin University Switzerland

Clarice Zdanksi
Instructor of Art History and Studio Art, Franklin University Switzerland

Pascal Schwaighofer
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Franklin University Switzerland Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainable Futures

Ariane Tanner
Post-Doctoral Fellow, History of Science, ETH Zurich


Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainable Futures (CJSF)

Address: Franklin University Switzerland - Via Ponte Tresa 29, 6924 Sorengo, Switzerland