Note from the ESEE Board: Quo Vadis ESEE?
years of existence of the ESEE community provide an important moment
for reflection. In no way, I plan to compete with our president and
his outstanding opening speech at ESEE 2007 in Leipzig. The same topic
has also been discussed in previous issues of the newsletter. Here,
I would like to concentrate on the future course of the ESEE community.
is no doubt that the ESEE community became a self-confident member
of research arena concentrating on interdisciplinary and novel approaches
to sustainability. Evidence of this are bi-annual conferences, numerous
interesting publications, ESEE members contribution to various policy
processes such as the Kyoto protocol, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
and international projects built on ESEE research networks, for example
FRAPP, PATH, THEMES, GOVERNAT and others.
me, two challenging issues are of major concern and those are (i)
interdisciplinary cooperation across natural and social sciences and
(ii) integration of researchers from Central and Eastern Europe into
the life of the ESEE community.
interactions of natural and social sciences have been among a major
research agenda for the last 4 years. ESEE 2005 and 2007 have made
a considerable effort to pick up this challenge. Also the summer school
series THEMES integrated this mission. All these events have greatly
contributed to the interdisciplinary orientation of EE research community
but mainly within and built on social science perspective. The history
of the relationship between ecological and social sciences goes back
to the 17th century when the separation of nature and society became
a founding principle of Western academic organisations. Dualism between
social and natural sciences has been highlighted by several authors
Fischer -Kowalski, Weisz, (1999), Folke (2003, 2006), Norgaard (2007)
and others. It is generally accepted that natural and social systems
are highly complex. Either is explained purely by internal disciplinary
mechanisms. Social systems are studied in isolation from the surrounding
environment, whereas for natural systems a large number of interconnections
and variables is analysed but the role of humans is often described
by a single actor model where humans are causing disturbances. Thus
reality shows that the mainstream approaches to social and natural
sciences are disconnected and often reductionistic. To bridge this
gap and overcome theoretical and methodological barriers, one must
understand the complexity, interdependence and co-evolutionary dynamics
of socio-ecological systems (SES). It is essential that we adopt new
theories and methodologies addressing urgent policy issues from complex
second issue is "a re-introduction of the Central Eastern European
(CEE) research community back into its original European biotope".
In CEE countries, rapid institutional changes took place since the
fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. However, built on the ruins of communism
(Stark, 1996), on eroded social capital and institutions there was
not enough time for societal adaptation or for institutional evolution.
has heavily affected the academic community, in particular social
scientists, who have previously been controlled by socialist ideologies.
Today, they face language, financial and organisational difficulties
but mainly institutional failure of post socialistic administration
still struggling with basic transition processes. Thus, researchers
expected to contribute to the EU research agenda are confronted with
unequal opportunities because their research infrastructure compared
to old EU member states (journal databases, technical and administrative
support for international cooperation etc.) make them less competitive
in international research community. A practical example can be provided
from our recent experience in organising the second THEMES summer
school. We have spent 2 years of difficult but exciting work on the
preparation of the 10-day programme (curriculum) during which 16 international
speakers, including Elinor Ostrom, Dan Bromley, Oran Young, Peter
Soderbaum, Arild Vatn and other took part. The THEMES team have undertake
dramatic selection process when receiving 181 eligible applications
for only 40 position and spent 8 months of competent administrative
work to prepare the venue, program and about 55 individual travel
arrangements. We still have plenty of work ahead to evaluate the event,
edit and publish papers and proceedings. Nevertheless, we are daily
confronted with an inefficient central administration for which time
runs "much slower" and open science is fantasy. Thus we are bombarded
with tasks such as translation of travel documents from original languages
or questions why we are reimbursing the travel costs to other than
permanent address of participants.
successfully address both issues it is required that they are integrated
under the same research umbrella. Transition to sustainability could
be appropriate topic to address both issues. Capturing of socio-ecological
dynamics and building on adaptive capacity towards sustainability
can cover material, economic, ecological and institutional transformation.
Navigating the transition to sustainability would thus address
research interests of ESEE community, including the perspective of
CEE transformation processes as well as contribute to the science-policy
interface. I would like to bring this idea to the community discussion
for the next research agenda.
2007 in Leipzig, Germany - the series of successful ESEE conferences
continues & first ESEE Award for Doctoral Students
Natural and Social Sciences for Sustainability was the theme of the
7th biennial conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics.
From 5 - 8 June more than 370 participants from 60 countries attended
the conference that was organised by an interdisciplinary team at
the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research UFZ in Leipzig. When
evaluating the conference respondents said that they liked that there
were "lots of junior people", "presence of people from
so many different disciplines", "excellent plenary talks",
"good to invite 'big' names who are not EE researchers",
"interesting topics", "mix of theoretical / conceptual
talks and talks on practical tools and applications", "young,
humorous session chairs", "good contributions from discussants",
"high quality of presentations", "distinction between
core and short paper sessions", "relatively few papers per
session", "high scientific quality throughout the conference",
"perfect organisation", "friendly team of organisers",
"nice venue", "good catering", "nicely designed
conference book", "effort to minimise waste", "student
camp which was very good to get to know people". Others found
the "diversity of topics too wide", were disappointed about
the quality of (some) presentations / sessions, found the registration
process via the web complicated, wanted more macro-level work and
saw a need for improvements with the poster session. Overall more
than 80% of the respondents agreed that they were happy having come
to this conference. We are happy about the many positive comments
and thankful for the helpful suggestions for improvements, which we
will take on board for the next conference.
major reason for success was the high quality of the plenaries, which
stimulated participants. Malte Faber talked in his opening speech
about the challenges of being an Ecological Economist, Dick Norgaard
gave a presentation on his experience in interdisciplinary work during
the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and Carl Folke, about interdisciplinarity
in and around the Resilience Alliance work; Clive Spash, our previous
President, made us aware of past revolutions in the economic discipline,
and the need for a new one; Inge Røpke argued for more research
combining the institutional analysis within EE and work on consumer
behaviour in order to alleviate the impacts of consumption; Elinor
Ostrom gave a stimulating presentation detailling her new framework
to assess and analyse multi-level social-ecological systems, and Christian
Hey closed the conference with insights from the German scientific
advisory body for environmental issues.
of the title and the predominance of natural scientists within the
organising institution, it was noted that the presence of natural
scientists was rather low. Or, to put it the other way round, many
EE scholars gathered who work on institutional questions, which has
now become a typical trait of ESEE conferences.
2007 also saw the first ESEE Award for Doctoral Students offered.
24 student papers were considered, many of which were of excellent
quality. The award went to Claudio Cattaneo from UAB, Barcelona, for
an integrated assessment of a local squatting community. The jury
was intrigued by the innovative nature of the analysis as well as
the good use of quantitative and qualitative methods. Congratulations
to Claudio! The Award has now become an institution and will be granted
at future ESEE conferences.
8th biennial ESEE conference is planned for June / July 2009 and will
take place in Ljubljana (Slovenia). The ESEE board are happy that
this will take us for the first time in a New EU member state. We
hope to see many of you in Ljubljana!
Rauschmayer and Sigrid Stagl
ESEE student members:
The term of office of Vincent Moreau as ESEE student representative,
comes to an end this year. We would like to thank him for all is efforts,
and hope he will continue to support the society in future.
would now like to hold an election for a new student representative.
According to the constitution, this takes place in 2 parts. First,
a call for nominations and second a ballot of student members to vote
for nominated candidates. This newsletter is part of the election
process and I would therefore like to ask for nominations for the
position of student representative.
should include a few paragraphs about the nominee, giving background
information and something on interests, views on ecological economics
and so on. The name of five ESEE members who support the nominee must
also be provided. All nominations should be sent to me, via email,
by 23rd October 2007.
role of the student representative is to represent students on the
ESEE board; communicate with students about ESEE matters; attend ESEE
board meetings and be involved in student meetings related to ESEE.
you have any questions, please get in touch with Wendy Kenyon (firstname.lastname@example.org).