How I became what I am

Vienna, October 2019 (hier geht’s zur Deutschen Version)

Born as a baby boomer 60 years ago in the province of Upper Austria, my „politicisation“ towards sustainability began in the 1970s through reading books such as „Limits to Growth“ and „Global 2000“ and active participation in the resistance against the start-up of the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant.

Already as a student at the University of Linz in the early 1980s, as Austria’s first ÖH (student representation) „alternative speaker“, I organised, together with colleagues and professors from the entire faculty, the first interdisciplinary seminars in regular teaching, for example also on the topic of „growth“. In my diploma thesis I dealt with the question of work in times of digitalisation (at that time: „microelectronics revolution“).

After studying social and economic statistics and economics with Kurt Rothschild and Kazimierz Laski, where, in addition to traditional neoclassical synthesis, (post-)Keynesian, but also alternative views ranging from Marxist economics and planning theory to input-output accounting and development economics were taught, I completed my doctorate „summa cum laude“ with Hans-Georg Petersen at the Justus Liebig University of Gießen on monetary distribution policy (published by Duncker&Humblot in 1991).

After my doctorate I immersed myself in the then newly emerging „evolutionary economics“, with a scholarship from the German Research Foundation and research stays in Rome, Florence, New York and Berkeley. This on the one hand meant a focus on the ecology-economy nexus and on the other a pluralistic view of institutional and Austrian economics – and always with the question: what role do society, state and politics play in an evolutionary world?

My desire to work in a more application-oriented (and political) way led me to the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy in 1993, where I was head of department for „Ecological Economics and Ecological Economic Policy“ and finally also interim head of department for „Material flows and Structural change“.

In 1999, I finally founded the Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) in Vienna, where communication plays a central role alongside practical (consulting) work and research.