International Political Ecology

The research group on international political ecology was founded in 2011 in order to bring together and advance the manifold research and teaching activities on the (international) dimensions of the ecological crisis at the Department of Political Science, Vienna University. In theoretical terms, the work of the research group focuses on political ecology and global environmental governance with a special emphasis on the role of the state and the intergovernmental system (what we call the internationalised state). Empirically, we conduct studies on biodiversity, climate change, agriculture, and agrofuels as well as on energy politics in the context of both the Global North and the Global South. Apart from the analysis of international structures and processes, there is a regional focus on Europe, Latin America, and South East Asia.


The ecological crisis, with its different dimensions and inter-linkages with other societal crises, is one of the major challenges facing societies and humankind. Social and political ecology have gained recognition for broadening our understanding of the socio-economic, cultural, and politico-institutional dimensions of the ecological crisis, of the socially and spatially uneven distribution of its consequences, and of the problems in implementing measures of mitigation and adaptation.

Our aim is to contribute to these debates by considering the role of the state and the intergovernmental system from a critical perspective and put them into the context of socio-economic dynamics, bio-physical processes, and forms of production and living as well as subjectivities. This means that the (internationalised) state is not assumed as a problem-solver but, firstly, as a central driving force of the ecological crisis. In an ambiguous way, the state is able to maintain the existing industrialist, fossilist, and capitalist way of living.

Our perspective is multi-scalar. We attempt to analyse the production and reproduction of various spatial scales – from the local to the global – in conflicts embedded in societal relationships with nature. In doing so, we link everyday practices to the global political economy and analyse how international resource conflicts are rooted in dominant modes of production and consumption.


Prof. Ulrich Brand (coordinator)

Prof. Markus Wissen

Dieter Behr

Alina Brad

Franziskus Forster

Andreas Grünewald

Bettina Köhler

Adam Pawloff

Melanie Pichler

Christina Plank

Isabella Radhuber

Istvan Rado

Alice Vadrot

Cooperation and Research Projects

Trafo Labour

Transformation Research ReviewContrarians – their role in the debate on climate change (global warming) and their influence on the Austrian policymaking process

Latin America Research Group on ExtractivismEnquete Commission “Growth, Wealth, Quality of Life – Towards Sustainable Economic Activities and Social Progress in the Social Market Economy”Dissertations


Since 2007 a permanent and structured programme in political ecology has been offered at the Institute of Political Science, especially in the area of International Politics. Courses have been taught on theories of environmental politics and political ecology, global environmental politics, the food and energy crisis, and geopolitics in the context of environmental crisis.

Contact: Melanie Pichler

Die ökologische Krise aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive

The lecture series is organized annually in the winter term and deals with different phenomenon of the ecological crisis (climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity) from various disciplines (sociology, economics, social ecology, political science).

Contact: Bettina Köhler

INEX Sustainability Challenge

The inter- and transdisciplinary course INEX Sustainability Challenge on “Sustainable Development” is organized annually in the summer term and is a cooperation between the University of Vienna, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, the Vienna University of Technology and the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Contact: Alice Vadrot

Other activities

Environmental Colloquium

Monthly colloquium on political and social ecology.

Dates and topics can be found here

Contact: Melanie Pichler & Christina Plank

Summer School Global Political Ecology

Summer school in cooperation between University of Vienna, University of Kassel, Freie Universität Berlin and Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig; taking place every two years.