The 2021 Potsdam Summer School (PSS) will explore the hydrosphere across land and sea and its crucial role within the Earth system. During the ten-day programme we will learn about the influence of the state of the hydrosphere on humankind and vice versa. We will discuss local, regional and global challenges in order to gain a better understanding of the state of the hydrosphere. Within the programme we will focus on three major aspects:

+ Too much: Heavy precipitation, flooding, sea level rise
+ Too little: Extreme droughts, exploitation of drinking water
+ Too bad: Pollution, accessibility, sanitation

Since the sharing of interdisciplinary knowledge and expertise is highly relevant to find answers to the global grand challenges, the following questions will also guide the ten-day programme:

  • What do we know - and don´t know - about the role of the hydrosphere within the Earth system?
  • Who are stakeholders and actors in terms of hydrosphere services?
  • How can multiple perspectives be merged into integrated strategies?
  • What can be done on a local, regional and global level?
  • How can we prevent political conflicts?
  • How can scientists and other professionals address audiences from all societal areas?

With its overarching theme – “Water: Our Global Common Good - The Hydrosphere across Land and Sea" – the 2021 Potsdam Summer School will continue the transdisciplinary and interactive event series that has been held annually in Potsdam, Germany since 2014. The summer school will provide its participants with a comprehensive perspective and overview of the relevant aspects when dealing with the hydrosphere. They will be engaged in discussions and group works and will be provided with tools to develop effective strategies to deal with the challenges they face in their daily work.

The aim is to bring together talented early-career scientists and young professionals operating in the private sector, governmental agencies and non-governmental organisations from many different parts of the world to discuss frontier (research) questions on future sustainable development. We also aim to enable participants to engage with various sectors of the public in their home countries. Our goal is to improve science awareness and help to develop informed opinions and enhance the transferable skills of current researchers.

In partnership with GeoX and the City of Potsdam, the 2021 Potsdam Summer School will be jointly organised by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS),  the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and the University of Potsdam. Experts, stakeholders, and guest lecturers from high level national and international institutes and organisations will contribute knowledge and insights to the Potsdam Summer School programme.

The entire Summer School will be conducted in English. 

Participants of the Potsdam Summer School can earn a maximum of 4 ECTS-credits within the framework of this programme. They will be comprised as follows:

1 ECTS-credit for the preparation/pre-readings
2 ECTS-credits for participation in the ten-day programme
1 ECTS-credit for follow-up research

The organisers will certify these ECTS-credits at the end of the programme and participants can request that they will be credited in their respective home institutions.

The organisers are looking forward to receiving applications from professionals with various backgrounds to explore with us the relevance of water as a global common good.

Application Requirements:

A complete application will consist of the filled out application form, your CV and a letter of motivation. In this letter you should also describe a case or aspect where water plays a central role in your research or daily life of your community.

All documents should be collated in one PDF-file (max. size 8 MB) and uploaded on our website.

Application Period:

The call for applications has started on November 16, 2020. The last day to submit an application will be on March 31, 2021 at 23:59 CET. Any application received after this date can only be entertained on a space-available basis.

For further information, please contact angela.borowski(at)


Please note:

Photographs and film footage may be taken during this event, which may or may not
include your recognisable image or a video. By submitting your application you consent to being photographed or filmed and authorise the organisers to use the photographs or film in print, digital, video or web-based format for its promotional and archival purposes.


The target audience are early career researchers and young professionals. Applicants from all countries are welcome. Applications are sought not only from advanced graduated students, postdoctoral fellows, junior- and senior faculty members in relevant disciplines but also from representatives of governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as from the private sector. Women, minorities and young professionals or students from developing countries are especially encouraged to apply. The enrolment is limited to 40 participants. The selection will be made by a jury consisting of representatives from all partner organisations. The jury's decision will be final.