IFF Social Ecology e-Newsletter Nr. 4 – September 2004
+ Upcoming Events:
– Environmental History Mini-Symposium: Wed., Sept. 11
– “World System History and Global Environmental Change”
Conference in Lund, Sweden, Sept. 19-22
– Public lecture by Jonathan Lash (WRI) in Vienna
in early October
+ Fall Semester 03/04:
– Course information online
– Additional course: Transition Studies
(VOSE 2st.; Wilfing & Grünbühel)
+ Austrian research networking news:
– IFF Social Ecology heavily affected by science budget cuts
+ New environmental history networking project at IFF
– Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte (ZUG) / Center for
+ Upcoming projects:
– Regional sustainability indicators for the Alpine Region – MARS
– Changes in social metabolism in Austria due to the 2002
flood: case study of an affected community in Kamptal
– Environmental impact of consumption
+ Project & Conference Reports:
– ISIE: Industrial Ecology for a Sustainable Future
– Participation at the Long Term Ecological Research meeting in Motz
– Research report: Austria / UK
+ Department News:
– Marina Fischer-Kowalski back as Head of Department
– Four new PhDs at IFF Social Ecology
– Student interns at IFF Social Ecology
– New team member for finances
+ IFF Library highlight:
– The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change
Environmental History Mini-Symposium: Wed., Sept. 11
IFF Social Ecology and the Center for Environmental History (ZUG) are pleased to invite you to an
“Environmental History Mini-Symposium” in the series “Lectures on Social Ecology.” Two guests from
the United States will report on their current research:
“Technological Disasters and Cultures of Safety: Policy Lessons from Qualitative Risk Studies”
“Agricultural Land Use and Environment in the U.S. Great Plains, 1870-2000”
Where: IFF Social Ecology, Seminar room 6, 6th floor
When: 11. September 2003, 18.00 – 20.00
Info: gerda.hoschek [at] uni-klu.ac.at
“World System History and Global Environmental Change”
Conference in Lund, Sweden, Sept. 19-22
Some sixty scholars will gather in Lund, Sweden, between the 19th and 22nd of September for an
interdisciplinary conference on “World System History and Global Environmental Change”. Among the
invited participants are Prof. Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Simron Jit Singh and Stefan Giljum (SERI).
More information: http://www.humecol.lu.se/woshglec/
Public lecture by Jonathan Lash (WRI) in Vienna
in early October
SERI and IFF Social Ecology are jointly organizing a lecture by Jonathan Lash, President of the World
Resources Institute (WRI), an independent organization that provides solutions to global problems of
environment and development. Jonathan Lash also co-chaired the President’s Council on Sustainable
Development and the OECD’s High-Level Advisory Group on Environment.
Date: October 8, 9 or 10; the exact date & location will
be announced under http://www.iff.ac.at/socec/.
Fall Semester 03/04
Course information online
Detailed information about Social Ecology courses this fall and links to further resources can be found
on our website:
For further information please contact
Nina Eisenmenger: nina.eisenmenger [at] uni-klu.ac.at
NB: An additional course has just been added to the palette of Social Ecology offerings this fall:
Transition Studies, VOSE 2st. Ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. Harald
Wilfing, Mag. Clemens Grünbühel
Termin: Do 10:00 bis 12:00, Beginn am 9. Oktober 2003
Ort: Anthropologie, Biozentrum (Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Wien)
Info: clemens.grunbuhel [at] uni-klu.ac.at
Austrian research networking news
IFF Social Ecology heavily affected by science budget cuts
The 2003 budget of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) has been cut by almost 20% compared to 2002
while applications increased by about 20%. As a result, the FWF has been forced to suspend any new
grants, regardless of the quality of the proposed projects. All positively evaluated projects have been
listed but can only be commissioned if new money becomes available (see
http://www.fwf.ac.at/de/info-magazin/200302/bewilligungen.html). Currently two applications of the
IFF-Social Ecology are pending; one has been positively evaluated, the other is still being reviewed.
This severely hampers research at the department. The proposal now on the waiting list was a threeyear
project that would have involved significant international cooperation (among others with the
The situation is worsened by the fact that the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (BMBWK)
lacks the money to fund projects submitted to a call for tenders in the so-called CONEX program that
should have financed projects to foster cooperation with Middle and Eastern European countries.
Although the project submitted by the Dept. of Social Ecology was rated as fifth best, and originally 10
projects had been called for, the BMBWK is currently unable to finance the project.
In both cases IFF Social Ecology has invested considerable amounts of its time and its own financial
resources to prepare the proposals, and in both cases the budget cuts jeopardize the Department’s
efforts to strengthen international cooperation.
New environmental history networking project at IFF
Zentrum für Umweltgeschichte (ZUG) / Center for Environmental History
The Center for Environmental History has been established as a joint project of the IFF Department for
the Analysis of Science and Culture (KWA) and and the Department of Social Ecology at IFF. This
project represents a further step in the process of institutionalizing environmental history as a focal
point in Austria’s research landscape.
Directed by Verena Winiwarter (verena.winiwarter [at] univie.ac.at), the Center will concentrate at first on
coordinating the “Wahlfachbündel Umweltgeschichte” (Environmental History elective course
package) and providing an information point for students. Plans for the future include serving as a
virtual platform for networking among Austrian researchers and institutions.
The ZUG website was launched this month: http://www.iff.ac.at/umweltgeschichte/.
Information concerning the environmental history curriculum can be found on the ZUG site at
Regional sustainability indicators for the Alpine Region – MARS
Within the INTERREG III/B project MARS (Monitoring the Alpine Regions’ Sustainability) the
Department of Social Ecology (Heinz Schandl, Christof Amann, Karlheinz Erb) will develop an
environmental indicator set for all regions of the Alpine Space. The overall goal of MARS is to
establish a set of regional indicators for the assessment of sustainable development in the areas of
economy, society and the environment. The project is highly collaborative: Actors from the regions will
closely work together with research institutes. The results that will be presented on the International
Benchmarkforum (IBF) 2004 in Basel will help the regions to implement sustainability policies.
Changes in social metabolism in Austria due to the 2002 flood:
case study of an affected community in Kamptal
This project is part of the Austrian Climate Change Research programme’s first phase. It investigates
the following questions:
To what extent do extreme weather events like the 2002 flood have an impact on social metabolism?
Quantitatively spoken what are the immediate material inputs for clean-up and reconstruction? Are
these material inputs significant compared to the annual flows? Is there in end effect a reestablishment
of the pre-flood situation or does an ecologically more sound renewal occur? Has the
situation led to structural changes? Or an increase in the quality of life? We aim in the end to discover
whether this societal response increases pressure on nature and therefore will accelerate climate
change or whether it reduces pressure by leading to more ecologically innovative and responsible
action. The importance of these questions lies in that climate change makes it likely that extreme
weather events will become a more frequent threat to society. The project began in April 2003 and will
run until the end of November 2003.
Environmental impact of consumption
This project is a joint research effort between IFF Social Ecology, the International Institute for Applied
Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI). The project’s key question is,
what are the impacts of various household consumption patterns on the national economy (e.g.
employment, GDP) and how does it alter the environmental performance of a nation? We focus on two
cases: a car-free housing development in Vienna, and another “normal” building with similar
demographic, socioeconomic and geographical conditions whose residents do own and drive cars.
The collected data from the two groups and samples from the Austrian Consumer Expenditure Survey
will be used within the input-output framework to conduct a comparative static analysis. In order to get
information on environmental impacts we will extend the input-output framework by the key
environmental indicators. Using this newly developed and innovative instrument, our investigation
should generate environmental and socio-economic profiles of different consumption patterns and a
better understanding of the causes and key factors that lead to these differences. The project begins
this month and will continue over the course of 14 months.
Project & Conference Reports
ISIE: Industrial Ecology for a Sustainable Future
Report from the Second International Conference of ISIE
June 29 – July 2, 2003
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Over 300 people from governmental organisations, industries, academia, research institutes and
NGOs were gathered at Ann Arbor, MI, USA for the conference. Around 200 platform and 70 poster
presentations were distributed over 39 technical sessions for a variety of subjects including Material
Flow Analysis (MFA), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), sustainability issues, eco-industrial parks, Input-
Output Analysis (IOA), policy cases and education. Supported by nice weather and ample outside
space for informal gatherings, this conference again conveyed the lively spirit of a research community
that trusts it can promote its agenda – both scientifically and as a broader societal project.
The Vienna school of Social Ecology was highly visible at this conference: four of our members
(Marina Fischer- Kowalski, Nina Eisenmenger, Heinz Schandl and Helga Weisz) had been accepted
Participation at the Long Term Ecological Research meeting in Motz (France)
Together with Michael Mirtl from the Austrian Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Christof Amann
from the Department of Social Ecology participated at the LTER (Long Term Ecological Research)
meeting in Motz (France) on July 1-5, 2003. In their presentation “Designing multifunctional research
platforms – Integration of socio-economic research and LTER in Austria” they introduced the concept
of socio- economic metabolism as a model to integrate socio-economic and ecological research
considering the “Eisenwurzen” region as an LTER site for empirical work. The ideas presented will
also flow into the EU-funded Network of Excellence ALTER (A Long Term Ecological Research
Network) in which IFF Social Ecology takes part as a subcontractor of the UBA that will start this fall or
early next year.
Research report: Austria / UK
The research report “Vergleichende Untersuchung zur langfristigen Entwicklung von
gesellschaftlichem Stoffwechsel und Landnutzung in Österreich und dem Vereinigten Königreich” by
Fridolin Krausmann, Heinz Schandl und Niels B. Schulz will be published in September as Volume 11
of the series “der europäische sonderweg.”
To order a free copy of the German version of this report please visit the Breuninger Foundation
(::projekte::geschichte::projekt “ursachen des europäischen sonderweges”)
An English version will become available as a pdf download on the IFF Social Ecology website –
simply use our publication search at this address:
To order a hardcopy please contact Gerda Hoschek: gerda.hoschek [at] uni-klu.ac.at
Marina Fischer-Kowalski back as Head of Department
Marina Fischer-Kowalski, after her visiting professorships at Yale University and the Federal University
of Rio de Janeiro, is now back at IFF in Vienna as Head of the Dept. of Social Ecology.
Four new PhDs at IFF Social Ecology
Congratulations are in order for the four PhD candidates who have completed their work at IFF Social
Erb, Karl-Heinz (2003): Methods for calculating the ecological footprint of nations in historic time
series: Austria 1926-2000. PhD Thesis at the University of Vienna.
Singh, Simron Jit (2003): In the Sea of Influence: A World System Analysis of the Nicobar Islands.
PhD Thesis at the University of Lund.
Schulz, Niels B. (2003): Die industrielle Transformation des gesellschaftlichen Stoffwechsels:
Materialflüsse, Energieflüsse und Transport im Vereinigten Königreich von Grobritannien und
Nordirland. Dissertation an der Universität Wien.
Giljum, Stefan (2003): Biophysical Dimensions of North-South Trade: Material Flows and Land-Use.
Dissertation an der Universität Wien.
Student interns at IFF Social Ecology
This summer five student interns worked together with the IFF Social Ecology team. During 6 weeks of
practical work, these sociology students were integrated in a number of projects and gained insight
into the everyday life of a research institute. Their tasks included literature and data research, data
organisation and presentation, qualitative interviews, and assistance in the organisation of an
international workshop. Their contribution was a great help in our ongoing project work and we are
looking forward to continuing this fruitful cooperation with the Institute of Sociology and its students in
the coming year.
For information about internships please contact Nina Eisenmenger: nina.eisenmenger [at] uni-klu.ac.at
New team member for finances
Markus Einzmann has been part of our team since the summer and will be in charge of financial
markus.einzmann [at] uni-klu.ac.at
Tel. ++43-1-522 4000-332
IFF Library Highlight
The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change
The IFF library is constantly expanding its resources in the field of Social Ecology. We’ll be highlighting
one of the many new library items in each newsletter!
Smil, Vaclav: The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change – : MIT Press, 2002. – 356 S. –
The library is open during regular office hours Mo-Fr in the IFF building, 5th floor, Schottenfeldgasse
29, 1070 Vienna, Austria. You can reach the library catalog online at
http://www.iff.ac.at/html/framewien.htm with a click on “Bibliothek”, or from any page on the IFF Social
Ecology website with a click on “library online / bibliothek online.”