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Environmental Social Science

Social Complexity and System Transformation

Lead : Ilona M. Otto

Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Ilona Otto, the newly appointed Professor in Societal Impacts of Climate Change at the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz a new research group focusing on Social Complexity and System Transformation was established. The group’s ambition is to use complex science theory and novel research methods to analyse social dynamic processes and interventions that are likely to spark rapid social changes necessary to radically transform the interactions of human societies with nature and ecosystem services in the next 30 years.The research group uses various research methods including social surveys, case studies, behavioral experiments, and simulations in analyzing problems related to global environment changes, development, adaptation and sustainability.

On-going Projects

Completed Projects

Human geography

Health and Everyday Activities take Place (urban HEAP)

Lead: Anke Strüver

The research group urban HEAP (Health and Everyday Activities take Place) focuses on the interactions between everyday social life and the sociospatial and ecological environment. It conducts interdisciplinary critical urban research and is currently working on the following research projects and topics:

  •    Critical perspectives on digitisation in cities
  •     Sustainable urban development
  •     Urban environmental justice: socio-cultural-innovative and ecologically sound aspects of urban development (housing, nutrition, health)
  •     Gender Studies and feminist geography
  •     Posthuman Geographies and Ontologies

The research group cooperates with the RCE Graz-Styria as well as various institutions at the KFU, the TUG and beyond.

On-going Projects

  • City of Collaboration
  • Relational geographies of nutrition in the field of tension between private affairs and politics: spatial and social localization of responsibility in discourses and practices of "sustainable" nutrition ( Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung )
  • Smart Sharing Graz ( FFG - Austrian Research Promotion Agency)

RCE Graz-Styria – Centre for Sustainable Social Transformation

The Regional Centre of Expertise Graz-Styria is a centre at the Faculty of Environmental, Regional and Educational Sciences at the University of Graz. It was founded within the framework of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) and certified by the United Nations University in 2007. Thus, RCE Graz-Styria is part of the international RCE network with currently more than 150 RCEs worldwide - the map below shows the regional distribution.

> more about the RCE Graz-Styria
> more about the initiative of the Regional Centres of Expertise


Environmental Sociology

Lead: Markus Hadler

With its focuses on environmental behaviors and attitudes using survey research environmental sociology  is an excellent addition to the current research topics in Climate Change Graz. Research in this area is undertaken on the effects of global and national forces on environmental behaviors, the societal effects of replacing coal in a steel mill and the polarization of attitudes towards climate change in public opinion and social media. Markus Hadler is also the Austrian representative of the International Social Survey Programme (www.issp.org), a  group of researchers from 48 countries with a current focus on environmental attitudes and behaviors.

On-going Projects

  • The measurement C02 of relevant environmental behaviour and other environmental attitudes by surveys (OeNB - Jubiläumsfonds der Österreichischen Nationalbank)
  • Torero - Fueling a sustainable future (EU H2020)
  • LEXAT - Legitimate Expectations and Austria’s Transformation to a Low-Carbon Society and Economy 

Concluted Projects

  • Environmental Behavior: Global and national influences (Austrian Science Fund - FWF)


MMag. Dr.phil.

Harald Stelzer

Research Manager

Research Management & -services
Elisabethstraße 27/II
A- 8010 Graz

Phone:+43 316 380 - 1295

Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr.rer.nat.

Gottfried Kirchengast


Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change
Brandhofgasse 5/I
A-8010 Graz

Phone:+43 316 380 - 8431

Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil.

Lukas Meyer


Institute of Philosophy
Attemsgasse 25/II
A-8010 Graz

Phone:+43 316 380 - 2300

Assoz. Prof. Mag. Dr.rer.soc.oec.

Birgit Bednar-Friedl


Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre

Phone:+43 316 380 - 7107, 8446

Univ.-Prof. Dr.

Bettina Weber


Institut für Biologie

Phone:+43 316 380 - 5694

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