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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-04-01 - 2024-02-29

Economics deals with the question of how resources are used in production and distribution to provide people with what need. According to the prevailing paradigm, people's preferences and initial endowment are taken as given, so that the discipline can concentrate entirely on questions of efficiency in resource allocation. Scarcities are signaled by – if given – prices, so that the use of resources allocation as well as technology development reacts accordingly. This approach is met with great scepticism by many students and teachers in other disciplines. Objections to this arise partly because of misunderstandings, often stubbornly upheld, but also because of implicitly different, while mostly unexplained, epistemological foundations. Questions must be asked about what economics may reasonably claim as its specific contribution to an interdisciplinary context, in particular within the scope of BOKU's mandate in teaching and research. This is to be seen as prerequisites for appropriate discourse within BOKU and towards society in general.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-07-01 - 2024-06-30

Given the magnitude of food systems’ challenges, scholars highlight the need for collective responsibility to engage in food-related behaviours that support the development of sustainable food systems. The concept of democratic food citizenship responds shifts the focus from the individual (i.e., consumption) to the collective responsibility to act on food systems’ implications. Democratic engagement is suggested to give individuals a sense of belonging, responsibility, and empowerment that may encourage them to commit to the environmental and social sustainability of food systems. However, individuals’ social and physical environments may affect their capacity of interaction with democratic food citizenship. This points to the need to explore how food environments (dis)enable people’s engagement with democratic food citizenship. To this end, this project proposal goes beyond individual behaviour (existing literature on food consumption and diets) towards collective action by integrating two key food studies concepts: food environment and food citizenship. This research aims to study the interactions between citizens and their community food environments and how the second may hinder or foster democratic food citizenship. Using two neighbours of the city of Bristol (UK) as case studies, an ethnographic study will be conducted that combines different qualitative methods (i.e., participatory observation, qualitative interviews, and visual data) to explore how different groups of urban dwellers interact with their community food environments. Empirical research will be guided by an analytical framework that identifies three dimensions for community food environments and relates them to four propositions for democratic food citizenship. This research will contribute to the emerging research and policy agenda around the concepts of food environments and food citizenship through new theoretical conceptualizations and empirical insights. It also offers a revised analytical framework to guide empirical research that is of relevance beyond the single case of Bristol.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-04-01 - 2026-03-31

Grasslands are valued not only for the provision of fodder but also as habitat for a wide array of plant and animal species and for their aesthetic and cultural value. Nevertheless, ecologically favourable grasslands are threatened in many parts of Europe. It calls for conservation measures and corresponding land use triggers to halt such degradation. These actions need to take the landscape level into account in order to be effective. The major objective is to identify best-practice and cost-effective conservation measures and their spatial arrangement, that enhance and protect the landscape and ensure long-term resilience of European grasslands against bio-physical degradation and adverse socio-economic developments. GreeNet brings together agronomists, agricultural economists, biologists, and landscape ecologists to analyse the interaction of conservation measures between fields, farms and the landscape in several European case studies. Results shall inform the scientific debate on resilient landscapes and shall support policy planners in designing effective strategies to safeguard biodiversity in European landscapes while maintaining the supply of multiple ecosystem services to local communities and the overall society. GreeNet develops, modifies, and applies a set of ecological tools (e.g. models, indicator assessments) to identify biodiversity and ecosystem service targets, analyse related conservation measures with respect to their effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services at both the field and landscape levels. The integration with results from bio-economic farm models, the application of a landscape level policy planning model, and the application of future global change scenarios allows to derive optimal strategies for maintaining or improving landscape resilience. GreeNet analyses the farming perspective by including surveys on farm level conservation decisions. Finally, GreeNet will develop best-practice conservation incentive schemes and governance strategies. This and the upscaling of results to comparable grasslands in Europe allow to inform administration and policy makers about the need for protected landscapes and incentive options across Europe. Hence, participation of stakeholders is crucial at several project steps.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations