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Research Area 1

Conceptual Foundations of Sustainability Economics

As a newly emerging field sustainability economics needs a conceptual and methodological basis that is suitable for the particular challenges of economic research that is inter- and transdisciplinary and oriented towards the imperative of sustainability. In this research area, we focus on three central challenges in the establishment of this basis:

 

(1) Methodological reflection of inter- and transdisciplinary environmental and sustainability research. Environmental and sustainability problems are complex problems at the intersection of human and natural systems. An encompassing analysis of such problems, and their solution, requires the interdisciplinary integration of the natural and social sciences and the humanities. It also requires the transdisciplinary relation with stakeholders, their knowledge and values. Our research in this area focuses on the rationale, character, operationalization, potential and limits of inter- and transdisciplinary environmental and sustainability research. 

 

(2) Clarification of the normative content of sustainability economics. As sustainability is normatively founded in the objective of encompassing justice, sustainability economics has an essential normative foundation. We clarify the normative foundation of sustainability economics, e.g. how economic can be related to justice and what potential trade-offs in the governance of human-environment systems might exist between efficiency and different conceptions of justice. 

 

(3) Development of appropriate concepts and methods. Starting from established concepts and methods of economics and of relevant natural and social sciences we clarify their preconditions, meaning and implications, and enhance them into concepts suitable for sustainability economics. For example, we operationalize the concept of economic efficiency (understood as non-wastefulness in the use of scarce resources) in regard to the normative objective of sustainability, and we conceptualize sustainability as justice under conditions of uncertainty.

 

Publications

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Baumgärtner, S. (2011), Normative Begründung der Nachhaltigkeitsökonomie, in: StudierendenInitiative Greening the University e.V. (Hrsg.), Wissenschaft für nachhaltige Entwicklung! Multiperspektivische Beiträge zu einer verantwortungsbewussten Wissenschaft, Metropolis-Verlag, Marburg, pp. 273–298.

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Baumgärtner, S. und C. Becker (Hrsg.) (2005), Wissenschaftsphilosophie interdisziplinärer Umweltforschung, Metropolis-Verlag, Marburg.

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Baumgärtner, S., C. Becker, M. Faber and R. Manstetten (2006), Relative and absolute scarcity of nature. Assessing the roles of economics and ecology for biodiversity conservation, Ecological Economics 59(4), 487-498.

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Baumgärtner, S., C. Becker, K. Frank, B. Müller and M.F. Quaas (2008), Relating the philosophy and practice of ecological economics. The role of concepts, models and case studies in inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research, Ecological Economics 67(3), 384-393.

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Baumgärtner, S., M.A. Drupp and M.F. Quaas (2017), Subsistence, substitutability and sustainability in consumption, Environmental and Resource Economics 67(1): 47-66. 

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Baumgärtner, S., M.A. Drupp, J.N. Meya, J.M. Munz and M.F. Quaas (2017), Income inequality and willingness to pay for environmental public goods, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 85: 35-61.

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Baumgärtner, S., S. Glotzbach, N. Hoberg, M.F. Quaas and K.H. Stumpf (2012), Economic analysis of trade-offs between justices, Intergenerational Justice Review 1/2012, 4–9.

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Baumgärtner, S. and M.F. Quaas (2009), Ecological-economic viability as a criterion of strong sustainability under uncertainty, Ecological Economics 68(7), 2008-2020.

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Baumgärtner, S. and M.F. Quaas (2010), Sustainability economics — General versus specific, and conceptual versus practical. Ecological Economics 69, 2056-2059.

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Baumgärtner, S. and M.F. Quaas (2010), What is sustainability economics? Ecological Economics 69(3), 445-450.

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Derissen, S., M.F. Quaas and S. Baumgärtner (2011), The relationship between resilience and sustainability of ecological-economic systems, Ecological Economics 70(6), 1121–1128.

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Doyen, L., C. Armstrong, S. Baumgärtner, C. Béné, F. Blanchard, A.A. Cissé, R. Cooper, L.X.C. Dutra, A. Eide, D. Freitas, S. Gourguet, F. Gusmao, P.-Y. Hardy, A. Jarre, L.R. Little, C. Macher, M.F. Quaas, E. Regnier, N. Sanz, O. Thébaud (2019), From no whinge scenarios to viability tree, Ecological Economics 163, 183–188.

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Drupp, M.A., S. Baumgärtner, M. Meyer, M.F. Quaas and H. von Wehrden (2020), Between Ostrom and Nordhaus: The research landscape of sustainability economics, Ecological Economics 172, 106620

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Drupp, M.A., Meya, J.N., Baumgärtner, S. and Quaas, M.F. (2018), Economic inequality and the value of nature, Ecological Economics 150:340-345.

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Hoberg, N. and S. Baumgärtner (2017), Irreversibility and uncertainty cause an intergenerational equity-efficiency trade-off, Ecological Economics 131, 75–86.

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Hoberg, N. and S. Strunz (2018), When individual preferences defy sustainability – can merit good arguments close the gap?, Ecological Economics 143, 286-293.

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Quaas, M.F., S. Baumgärtner, M.A. Drupp and J.N. Meya (2020), Intertemporal utility with heterogeneous goods and constant elasticity of substitution, Economics Letters 191, 109092.

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Strunz, S. (2012), Is conceptual vagueness an asset? Arguments from philosophy of science applied to the concept of resilience, Ecological Economics 76, 112–118.

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Wätzold, F., M. Drechsler, C.W. Armstrong, S. Baumgärtner, V. Grimm, A. Huth, C. Perrings, H.P. Possingham, J.F. Shogren, A. Skonhoft, J. Verboom-Vasiljev and C. Wissel (2006), Ecological-economic modeling for biodiversity management: Potential, pitfalls, and prospects, Conservation Biology 20(4), 1034-1041.  Link
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