Writing Workshop on Socio-Ecological Economics

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 exploring-economics.org 
  • 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 Wien with support of the "Center for Students of Economics " WU Wien and Exploring Economics
  • Aim to publish a peer-reviewed essay on exploring-economics.org
  • About 15 participants gathering from Friday afternoon until Sunday to go through a guided essay-writing process 



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 March Saturday, 3rd March Sunday, 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. 


The registration is closed.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us via email: writing-workshop@plurale-oekonomik.at


Organised by:

Gesellschaft für Plurale Ökonomik Wien


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


With support of Exploring Economics:

Exploring Economics is an open-source online learning platform that provides students of economics and other disciplines the opportunity to explore and study perspectives, topics and methods of pluralist economics. 


This project is brought to you by the Network for Pluralist Economics (Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V.).  It is committed to diversity and independence and is dependent on donations from people like you. Regular or one-off donations would be greatly appreciated.