1375 Research Seminar Ecological Economics
Univ.Prof. Mag.Dr. Sigrid Stagl, M.S.
Contact details
Weekly hours
Language of instruction
09/06/23 to 09/27/23
Registration via LPIS
Notes to the course
Day Date Time Room
Tuesday 10/03/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 10/10/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 10/24/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 10/31/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 11/07/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 11/14/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 11/21/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 11/28/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 12/05/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 12/19/23 12:00 PM - 02:00 PM Online-Einheit
Tuesday 01/09/24 12:00 PM - 02:30 PM Online-Einheit

The main areas covered in this course are: The basic assumptions of ecological economic analysis; analytical frameworks applied by ecological economists; and institutional arrangements suggested for sustainable development. The course draws on contemporary economic thought as well as material from such fields as evolutionary biology, ecology, non-equilibrium systems theory, social psychology and environmental ethics.

Learning outcomes
  • To understand the relationship between economic, social and biophysical systems;
  • To appreciate the interdisciplinary approach for the analysis of environmental issues;
  • To become familiar with the analysis of energy and material flows in the economy;
  • To understand the ethical, social and behavioural foundations of human well-being;
  • To have a critical awareness of the issues relating to environmental valuation (incl. role of discounting and incommensurability of values).
Attendance requirements

Please attend all sessions as sessions the units build on each other. In case you are ill, please let Prof. Stagl know by email.

Teaching/learning method(s)

The course emphasizes discussion as a mode of learning. Each class consists of discussions of one to three assigned academic article / book chapters and occasional lecture style input by the professor.

The course readings are adapted to some extent in line with the interests and research areas of participants.


- Preparation for class (reading).

- Active participation.

- Presentation in one session that is dedicated to the student's research topic.

Prerequisites for participation and waiting lists

This course is open to all students of the PhD or doctoral program at WU. Students from other universities are welcome, but need the consent of the course instructor.


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Recommended previous knowledge and skills

Basic understanding of key environmental problems.

Availability of lecturer(s)

It is easiest to get in contact with me via email ( or WU mobil 0676-82135790. Personal or online appointments can be booked with Ms Barbara Gaal (

Unit details
Unit Date Contents
1 Sessions 1 – 11 October 2022


  • Chapter 1 Introduction to Ecological Economics (what ecol econ aims to achieve)
  • Chapter 2 The Environment (the ways in which the natural environment functions and sustains life; first and second laws of thermodynamics; energy and nutrient flows in ecosystems; how did fossil fuels came into existence; population dynamics; ecosystem resilience; global nutrient cycles; evolutionary processes)

Classic reading

Martinez-Alier, J. (1987). "Ecological economics: Energy, Environment and Society." Blackwell

Røpke, I. (2004). "The early history of modern ecological economics." Ecological Economics 50(3): 293-314.

Recent contributions

Spash, C. L. (2017). Social ecological economics. Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics, Routledge: 3-16.


2 Sessions 2 – 18 October 2022

The Economy in the Environment - Conceptual Framework

  • Chapter 3 Broad outlines of human history; growth of the size of the human population and per capita energy use during that history; major historical changes in the way humans feed themselves; ways how the human species now dominates ecosystems
  • Chapter 4 Ways in which the economy and the environment are interdependent; classification of natural resources; waste flows and pollution; relationship of the use of natural resources and waste generation; amenities and life support services that the environment provides; functions that the environment performs for the economy interact with one another, and may be competitive;  threats to sustainability that originate in economy-environment interdependence

Classic reading

John Gowdy, Jon D. Erickson, The approach of ecological economics, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Volume 29, Issue 2, March 2005, Pages 207–222,

Power, M. (2004). "Social provisioning as a starting point for feminist economics." Feminist Economics 10(3): 3-19.

Recent contributions

Plank, C., et al. (2021). "Doing more with less: Provisioning systems and the transformation of the stock-flow-service nexus." Ecological Economics 187: 107093.


3 Session 3 – 25 October 2022

Economic Accounting

  • Chapter 5: input-output accounting and national income accounting, and how they are related; production uses natural resources indirectly as well as directly; extent to which Gross Domestic Product differences truly reflect differences in economic performance; proposals for modifying national income accounting to reflect environmental costs

Classic reading

Daly, H. E. (1997). "Georgescu-Roegen versus Solow/Stiglitz." Ecological Economics 22(3): 261-266.

Maneschi, A. and S. Zamagni (2012). "Nicholas Georgescu‐Roegen, 1906–1994." The Economic Journal 107(442): 695-707.

Recent contributions

Joan Martinez-Alier (2021) Circularity, entropy, ecological conflicts and LFFU, Local Environment, DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2021.1983795

4 Sessions 4 – 8 November 2022

Economic growth

  • Chapter 6: how GDP per capita differs across countries; extent of poverty in the world; why are some countries are rich and others are poor; standard theories of economic growth; why is economic growth a major objective of economic policy; relationship between economic growth and the satisfaction of needs and desires
  • Chapter 7: construction of scenarios for the environmental impact of economic and population growth; effect of the composition of GDP on the environmental impact of economic growth; models of economic growth and resource availability; importance of substitution possibilities in production and technological change for growth prospects when there are natural resource constraints; The Limits to Growth controversy; ways in which economic growth can be good for the environment; what sustainable development would involve

Classic reading

Daly, HE 1974: The Economics of the Steady State. The American Economic Review , May, 1974, Vol. 64, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Eighty-sixth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, pp. 15-21

Daly H.E. (2005) - Economics in a full world, Scientific American, Vol. 293, No. 3, Sep 2005, pp. 100-107

Recent contributions

Victor, P. A. (2010). "Ecological economics and economic growth." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1185(1): 237-245.


5 Sessions 5 – 22 November 2022

Exchange and markets & Limits to Markets

  • Chapter 8: benefits of exchange based on the specialisation of production; how the use of money facilitates exchange and specialisation; how markets work in terms of demand and supply functions; introduction to elasticities of demand and supply; distinction between short and long run market adjustments; what determines who - buyers or sellers - pays most of the tax on a commodity; financial markets and how the rate of interest is determined
  • Chapter 9: what would the 'invisible hand' of market forces do in an 'ideal' world; how and why the 'invisible hand' does not work in fact; distinction between efficiency and equity; the role of property rights in the functioning of markets; how well markets look after the environment; efficiency is not the same as sustainability

Classic reading

Hodgson, Geoffrey: Markets. In: Davis, J. B., et al. (2015). The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition, Edward Elgar Publishing.

Recent contributions

Bliss, S. and M. Egler (2020). "Ecological Economics Beyond Markets." Ecological Economics 178: 106806.

Brockway, P. E., et al. (2021). "Energy efficiency and economy-wide rebound effects: A review of the evidence and its implications." Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 141: 110781.

6 Session 6 – 29 November 2022

Sustainability appraisal and Valuation

  • Environmental Valuation; incommensurability of values, recent advances in sustainability appraisal and valuation; hybrid methods (participation and environmental valuation)

Classic reading

Martinez-Alier, J., et al. (1998). "Weak comparability of values as a foundation for ecological economics." Ecological Economics 26(3): 277-286.

Vatn, A. (2005). "Rationality, institutions and environmental policy." Ecological Economics 55(2): 203-217.

Recent contributions

Meraj, G., et al. (2022). "Modeling on comparison of ecosystem services concepts, tools, methods and their ecological-economic implications: a review." Modeling Earth Systems and Environment 8(1): 15-34.

Muradian, R. and E. Gómez-Baggethun (2021). "Beyond ecosystem services and nature's contributions: Is it time to leave utilitarian environmentalism behind?" Ecological Economics 185: 107038.

Pirgmaier, E. (2021). "The value of value theory for ecological economics." Ecological Economics 179: 106790.

7 Session 7 – 6 December 2022

Sustainable Development & Environmental Policy Instruments

  • Chapter 10: how the principle of sustainable development was put on the policy agenda; how researchers from different academic fields have suggested operationalizing the principle of sustainable development; why imperfect knowledge makes scientific analysis and decision making much more difficult; Precautionary Principle; how policy objectives are set in democratic societies.
  • Chapter 11: what needs to be considered for implementing environmental policy; instruments available to attain environmental goals; their respective merits and limitations; why uncertainty complicates the implementation of environmental policy immensely?

Classic reading

Costanza, R. (1992). Ecological economics: the science and management of sustainability, Columbia University Press.

Rees, W. E. (2002). "An Ecological Economics Perspective on Sustainability and Prospects for Ending Poverty." Population and Environment 24(1): 15-46.

Recent contributions

D'Amato, D. and J. Korhonen (2021). "Integrating the green economy, circular economy and bioeconomy in a strategic sustainability framework." Ecological Economics 188: 107143.


8 Session 8 – 13 December 2022

Climate Change

  • Chapter 13: how the greenhouse effect works, what future climate change is expected by the vast majority of competent scientists due to the enhanced greenhouse effect, effects future climate change is expected to have, why the enhanced greenhouse effect is so difficult to deal with, ways in which it could be responded to, and what is actually being done in response to the problem, and what effect it is expected to have.

Classic reading

Ackerman, F., et al. (2009). "Limitations of integrated assessment models of climate change." Climatic Change 95(3): 297-315.

Recent contributions

Battiston, S., et al. (2021). "Accounting for finance is key for climate mitigation pathways." Science 372(6545): 918-920.

Dietz, S., et al. (2021). "Economic impacts of tipping points in the climate system." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118(34): e2103081118.

Semieniuk, G., et al. (2021). "Plausible energy demand patterns in a growing global economy with climate policy." Nature Climate Change 11(4): 313-318.

Winkelmann, R., et al. (2022). "Social tipping processes towards climate action: A conceptual framework." Ecological Economics 192: 107242.

9 Session 9-11 – 20 Dec, 10 & 17 Jan
Student Presentations
Each participant presents their research and gets feedback from colleagues. The presenter chooses which element of their work would benefit most from getting feedback. The goal is not primarily to impress the professor or colleagues, but to elicit comments from them and to organize a productive discussion.

10 Jan 10-11:30 - Diana Muslimova

17 Jan 10-11:30 - Régis Gourdel

17 Jan 11:30-13:00 - Sarah Ware

Last edited: 2023-05-03