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POLISES retreat at Großbothen

by Kaja Alina Jurak

The Wilhelm Ostwald Conference Center in Großbothen

In May 2023 Birgit, Gunnar, Julia and Kaja went to the Wilhelm Ostwald Park in Großbothen for the yearly POLISES retreat. Surrounded by idyllic nature close to the river Mulde, we had the best conditions for an enriching yet refreshing exchange on the work within our group.

We started the retreat with a feedback round on the past year and were able to look back onto a broad variety of events and achievements; First papers within the topic of agriculture in the global north were published, the InsuranceGrass project started where Julia contributes to, Kaja began her project on nitrogen management and Birgit and Gunnar started teaching at the BTU Cottbus, to name just a few.

After two presentations about the ongoing PhD-projects of Julia and Kaja, we also spend one time slot on discussing time management. The goal was to learn from each other’s experience and find ideas to tackle the challenges that come hand in hand with organizing one’s own work in science. In the afternoon we finished the day off with a bike tour along the river to Grimma and back, following the themed trail “path of stones”.

The first slot of the second day was dedicated to the real-life impact of models and how to stay motivated while doing research. One key message was that we wish to have a more intensive exchange with stakeholders in order to address problems that are relevant for the real world. Additionally, we reflected on the impact of past and ongoing projects and Gunnar gave an input about how to make socio-ecological modelling more useful to support policy and management (Will et al. 2021).

Last, but not least, the organization of work in POLISES was addressed such as the on-boarding process or future joint projects. Two results coming out of this were to revive formats to share methodological knowledge and to establish a more frequent exchange with other working groups at the UFZ.

Overall, the retreat was a great possibility to talk about the long-term direction of the group, upcoming tasks and challenges. We were able to share ideas on how to improve our work while still having the opportunity to enjoy the sunny weather with great food provided by the conference center.  


Will, M., Dressler, G., Kreuer, D., Thulke, H.‐H., Grêt‐Regamey, A., Müller, B. (2021). How to make socio‐environmental modelling more useful to support policy and management? People and Nature, 3: 560-572. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10207

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