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Writing Workshop on Socio-Ecological Economics

Call for Participation: Writing Workshop Socio-Ecological Economics

2-4 March 2018 Vienna and online 


About the writing workshop

  • Second writing workshop with Exploring Economics
  • First writing workshop at Vienna University of Business and Economics, supported by scholars of the Institute for Ecological Economics and the Department of Socioeconomics 
  • On Ecological Economics (focus on resources and sinks, (care) work, society, and technology)
  • Aim to publish a peer-reviewed essay on 
  • About 15 participants gathering from Friday afternoon until Sunday to go through a guided essay-writing process 
  • The workshop is organized by the Gesellschaft für Plurale Ökonomik Vienna with support of the "Center for Students of Economics " WU Wien and




Application process

The writing workshop addresses students who are currently enrolled in Bachelor or Master programmes with an interest in Ecological Economics. Prior knowledge is not required but helps in the application process. For application, please submit a CV and a short motivation letter (max. 600 words). The writing workshop is designed for 15-20 participants. Aside from a high motivation, the selection is based on gender parity, with a preference for students from Southern/Eastern Europe as well as non-European countries. Applicants should indicate two preferences for their focus topic and justify the motivation of their choice. The assignment to a certain topic will take place before the writing workshop. In case you have prior knowledge on literature for the respective topic, please let us know (see application form) so that we can take it into consideration for the further planning of the writing workshop. 

List of requirements

  • CV
  • Application form (includes motivation, 2 preferences of focus topics and optional literature suggestions)

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us: All applicants will be informed by 21 January about admission. 

Accommodation and travel

This writing workshop is devoted to sustainability also in terms of accommodation and travel. Travel costs will only be refunded for train or bus travels. Flights are explicitly not desired. All participants will be hosted via couchsurfing by students and Pluralism in Vienna. This should enhance social exchange with locals, is low-budget and also ecologically sustainable. Lunch and coffee breaks are provided and will be largely vegan, seasonal and regional. For dinner, we will reserve a table in a socio-ecological, affordable restaurant. However, dinner has to be paid by the participants. 


Ecological Economics has been one of the fastest growing schools of economic thought in the last 25 years. Founded as truly plural, it gains traction from a variety of economic perspectives, and deals with numerous of the most pressing contemporary policy issues. The themes discussed in the journal Ecological Economics (its main scientific outlet) range from more individualistic approaches such as valuation of ecosystem services and practice-theoretical approaches to structural critiques of capital accumulation and social metabolism. The integration of numerous perspectives allows the school to address controversially discussed topics such as climate change and biodiversity loss with their partly radical social and economic implications. Hence, this writing workshop not only provides a forum to discuss the specific areas of the economic school of Ecological Economics, but allows participants to address contemporary topics, with the help of concepts developed in the school. In this context, the writing school will gravitate around four core topics.

Resources and sinks in Ecological Economics

Neoclassical theory either neglects key notions about sources and sinks, or treats ecological concerns as “externalities”, which has been criticised as an inadequate representation of reality since the early days of Ecological Economics. The publication of “The Limits to Growth” by Maedows et al. in 1972 was a first cornerstone of criticising neoclassical economics’ conceptualisations of resources and sinks. These discussions have led to a critical evaluation of the role economics plays in climate change, transport of resources, mining and distribution of footprints. In this writing workshop, the following topics can be addressed:  How to understand environmental constraints in our economic system? Which relevance can be attributed to resource flows on a regional level in a global economy? What kind of models help to deal with environmental limits in a complex system?

(Care-)Work in Ecological Economics

Already Marx has defined labor as a metabolic process between men and nature, thus capturing both the social and the ecological character of work. Although work can be seen as the main mechanism through which humans appropriate nature to satisfy their needs, this issue has so far rather been neglected in Ecological Economics. The debate has mostly revolved around the issue of paid work, and the interrelation between unemployment and pressures for economic growth. In this context, several researchers have called for a reduction and a more equal distribution of working time. However, the issue of care and reproductive work is also crucial. Essays of this writing workshop could deal with the following questions: How could sustainable work be conceptualised in the field of Ecological Economics? How should labor market policies be designed to enhance a social-ecological transformation? How can unpaid work be (re-)valued and organised differently?

Society in Ecological Economics

The role of society within Ecological Economics has been a key concern since the beginning of the scientific movement and has recently seen a revival. Debates concern the question of how to bring the issue of social inequality to the centre of Ecological Economics thinking, which has resulted in a number of publications over the last years. Scholars within Ecological Economics also engage more actively in the conceptualisation of the “Environmental Welfare State” where linkages between ecological indicators such as resource use or CO2 emissions, and welfare state concepts are explored. On an even broader level, capital dynamics and their role for the biosphere are scrutinised more deeply. Examples include discussions on unequal ecological exchange, ecofeminism and ecological Marxism. The essay of the writing workshop could pick up one of these topics to critically elaborate on the role of society in Ecological Economics.

Technologies in Ecological Economics

Technology has been widely accepted as a driving and directional force in the economy; mirrored in the current public debate on automatisation and digitalisation.  In Ecological Economics, and particularly in the degrowth debate, technology nevertheless remains widely under-investigated and divides the field. The presence of techno enthusiasts, determinists, romanticists and sceptics indicates contradictory attitudes towards the role technology should and can play. Depending on their theoretical stance, scholars take more or less critical perspectives on entrepreneurial, corporate, state or community driven technological change. On the macro-level, technology is discussed with regard to the feasibility of “Green Growth” and questions concerning the decoupling of economic growth from e.g. resource use and carbon dioxide emission. An essay in this core subject could generally give an overview on how Ecological Economics addresses technological change or critically discuss and evaluate a specific technology (e.g. smart phones, information infrastructure, nuclear power, smart grids, digitalisation) from the perspective of Ecological Economics.

Procedure of the writing workshop 

The core topics will be assigned to the participants (according to their preferences) when being accepted for admission. Each participant will be greatly invited to delve into the topic and get familiar with the literature of the assigned topic. A research question or at least a depth understanding of the research field should be developed in advance of the workshop. 

Both general inputs on Ecological Economics as well as social interaction take place after arrival on Friday: On Sunday morning, a team of junior researchers from WU Vienna will support the participants to further strengthen their research question and develop a proposal. At the end of the day, participants will meet experts in their assigned field to exchange thoughts and ask questions about their topic. This provides a possibility to gain some hints on further literature or blind spots regarding their research question.

The intense supervision on Saturday shall enable the participants to finalise a draft on Sunday. The draft is supposed to serve as basic framework for the essay and should ideally only lack complete formulation. Hence, participants can easily build on this draft in the aftermath of the workshop to finalise the essay until the end of March. There will be a review by two scholars returned to the authors by the end of April. By 30 May, the final essay should be submitted. 



Friday, 2nd MarchSaturday, 3rd MarchSunday, 4th March

14:45 Arrival

15:00 Welcome 

15:30 Introduction to essay writing

17:00 Coffee break

18:00 Keynote: Introduction to Ecological Economics

20:00 Dinner at Magdas, getting to know each other

09:30 Reflection on previous day

10:00 Finding topic focus

11:00 Coffee break

11:30 Development of research question

12:30 Lunch 

14:00 Writing phase 1: Developing an outline

15:30 Coffee break

16:00 Writing phase 2: Meeting with experts (tba)

18:00 Dinner at Magdas

09:30 Reflection on previous day

10:00 Writing phase 3: Writing a draft

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Planning further procedure (in groups)

14:00 Presentation of essays (current state, further procedure)

15:30 Summary, feedback and outlook

16:00 Departure



The workshop is open to students and young scholars of economics and other social sciences, as well as other related disciplines with different levels of experience and knowledge. You do not need to have any previous knowledge on the topic. 



Please submit your registration by 20 January 2018 via the online form. Please select your two preferred topics, tell us whether you want to participate online or offline (in Berlin) and submit a short motivation of max. 400 words. The participation for both offline and online is free of charge. Participants are admitted considering  their motivation, time of registration and their selected topics.


The registration is closed. 


You will receive a confirmation of your admission by 1 February 2018.


If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us via email:



Organised by:

Gesellschaft für Plurale Ökonomik Wien


With support of the "Center for Students of Economics " WU Wien


With support of Exploring Economics: