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Master thesis: Public participation in the energy transition

The Graduate School EnergieSystemWende, funded by the Reiner Lemoine Foundation, conducts research for a renewable, integrated and socially just energy system. It is located at the Reiner Lemoine Institute, an independent, non-profit institute aiming at a future with 100 % renewable energy sources. One of the Graduate School’s research projects investigates public participation, which is affiliated with the Workgroup “Economics of Sustainable Energy System Transition” and CoalExit at the Europa-Universität Flensburg.

We are offering the following topic for a master’s thesis:

Public participation in the energy transition

at RLS Graduate School EnergieSystemWende

Reference Number: Kolleg_49_241121



The needed decarbonisation and, thus, phase-out of fossil fuels and deployment of renewable energies affects people and communities in fossil fuel regions in different ways and results in structural change processes. For example, there are direct job losses in the fossil fuel sector while new jobs could arise in the renewable energy sector. A crucial part to ensure a just transition for all and a tenet of energy justice (procedural justice) is the participation of actors in decision-making processes. Even though there is a call for more participation, if and how the participation should take place remains uncertain. Overall, especially citizens are not often involved in strategic decision-making processes even though transition processes go beyond solely affecting workers and businesses.

Research can contribute to the understanding the challenges by asking the following questions: How can partici-pation in decision-making look like to ensure a just transition? What are the actors involved in the process? In order to address the questions, the thesis deals with the following points: (i) the definition of the steps of public participation processes in the energy transition, including the involved actors, and (ii) the analysis of an example of public participation in the decision-making (strategy and/or planning) process. The methodology should be oriented towards methods of the social sciences (e.g., interviews, document analysis).

The thesis will be embedded in the RLS PhD group “energy system transition” and supervised by PhD student Alexandra Krumm. Her doctoral thesis deals with the topic of participation and justice in the transformation process.


Your profile:

  • Master’s student in a degree programme related to the energy transition
  • Interest in the social dimension of the energy transition and the issue of participation
  • Knowledge or willingness to work with social science methods (e.g., conducting interviews)
  • Independent, systematic and careful way of working
  • Clearly structured documentation and communication of results


What we offer:

  • A friendly and open work environment with a young team (RLI currently has about 100 employees, with 40 students)
  • A transparent and participatory corporate culture
  • Participation in an interdisciplinary, international research project
  • Academic support and supervision
  • Optional in-house trainings
  • Potential career opportunities
  • Flexible working hours and places according to your needs
  • Office on the Science Campus Adlershof, excellent public transport access



  • Position to be filled flexible between January and March 2022
  • Fixed-term contract for 6 months (extension possible)
  • Remuneration of 350 Euro per month



Kindly upload your application (cover letter, CV, transcript of records) in one single PDF file with the file name YourFirstname.YourLastname here:

Apply now

We regret that we cannot consider applications that do not meet these criteria or are sent to us in other ways.

Questions regarding tasks and scope of the work are answered by Alexandra Krumm.
Your contact person for the application process is Marlene Buthenhoff.


RLI has signed the German Diversity Charter (Charta der Vielfalt). We welcome and value diversity in our institute and, in addition to our commitment to the energy transition, we actively advocate for the equality of all people. You and your application are welcome with us! Sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, world view within the Liberal Democratic Basic Order, disability, or age do not play a role.