If this message is not displayed properly, please click here.
Logo der Universität Wien

echo #1-2024: Special Edition

Dear readers,

This first edition of the ECH Newsletter in 2024 is a special one. It revisits a starting point, a special event for the ECH which we would like to celebrate with you: 

On the 8th of March, the University of Vienna’s ECH had its kick-off event: Renowned climate researcher Stefan Rahmstorf gave the keynote speech, the University’s Rector Sebastian Schütze, the Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler, and the CEO of the WWTF, Michael Stampfer, all sent their greetings, followed by a panel discussion on today’s relevance of interdisciplinary research. And for the first time, the ECH handed out its Environment and Climate Award to three outstanding winners. You were not among the 200 guests? Click here for the detailed report.

Group photo: University-Rector Sebastian Schütze, ECH Co-Director Sabine Pahl, Keynote Speaker Stefan Rahmstorf, Vice-Rector Manuela Baccarini, Katharina Rogenhofer (Kontext Institut), and ECH Co-Director Thilo Hofmann
© Markus Korenjak; Group photo of University of Vienna-Rector Sebastian Schütze, ECH Co-Director Sabine Pahl, Keynote Speaker Stefan Rahmstorf, Vice-Rector Manuela Baccarini, Katharina Rogenhofer (Kontext Institut), and ECH Co-Director Thilo Hofmann

But the ECH existed before, you say? You're not wrong, of course. But as it is with any big projects, the official launch is often preceded by considerable planning and development. Intensive work has been put into the Hub to make it what it is today. 

From three calls, covering early career to full professors, members have been selected. Today, the Hub is proud to have 65 members from 32 departments at the University of Vienna (more on this in the Fast Fact below). The Hub has defined 4 interdisciplinary focus areas to categorise its research: Clean Environment, Climate Resilience, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, and Changing Society. By the way, the interdisciplinary nature of the ECH is also reflected in its co-leadership: Thilo Hofmann is an environmental scientist and Sabine Pahl is an environmental psychologist. Check out our brand-new website to read more.

In this newsletter, we provide you with insights into the latest activities of the Hub and share some further information: We present our interdisciplinary research projects and introduce you to the three outstanding women who have won the first ECH Environment and Climate Research Award. We share an exclusive interview with Stefan Rahmstorf on the climate debate between science and lobbying and sit down with ECH member Kimberly Doell to talk about her current mega-study, in which she investigates the extent to which people around the world are open to climate reform. Further, we give an insight into the successful media presence of our members, as well as a preview of our upcoming event "Environmental Dialogue" held at the Natural History Museum in May. 

We all know:
We can only tackle the challenges posed by environment and climate crisis if we join forces: We need science to inform solutions, for political decisions and actions to be based on scientific knowledge, as well as societal engagement and participation. With this in mind, we would be delighted if you would continue to accompany us in our activities.

With best regards,

The ECH Editorial Team

Fast Fact
  • 65 members: 45 senior members and 20 early career scientists
  • 32 departments from 14 faculties and centres at the University of Vienna
  • Since the Hub’s formation: 4 ECH-members acquired ERC proof of concept, starting-, advanced- or consolidator grants
  • Awards: Wittgenstein award (Christa Schleper), Philipp Duchafour Medal by the EGU (Andreas Richter), Falling Walls Global Call Winner (Ulrike Felt)
  • Franz Essl, Andreas Richter and Mathew White all have been honoured as “highly cited researchers

ECH Environment and Climate Research Award

Taking place during the celebration of the Hub’s kick-off event, the Environment and Climate Research Hub awarded its first Environment and Climate Award in two categories:
Two outstanding young scientists from the University of Vienna, Tatiana Konrad and Lucia Fuchslueger, were honoured with the “Environment and Climate Research Award”.
Katharina Rogenhofer, alumna of the University of Vienna, former leader of the climate referendum in Austria and committed advocate of evidence-based climate policy, received the "Society Award for Environment and Climate" for her continuous and outstanding commitment to civil society. Read more on our website.
Sabine Pahl, Manuela Baccarini, award winners Katharina Rogenhofer, Lucia Fuchslueger, and Tatiana Konrad, and Thilo Hofmann
© Markus Korenjak; Group photo of Sabine Pahl, Manuela Baccarini, award winners Katharina Rogenhofer, Lucia Fuchslueger, and Tatiana Konrad, and Thilo Hofmann
The future is in our hands ECH billboard
Seedcorn Projects

Over the past year and a half, the ECH has been working on formulating core research areas to foster a vision for its future research ambitions. One key stepping stone here is the ECH's seedcorn funding: The Hub supports four distinct, interdisciplinary research projects of early career researchers. Read more about them on our website.
A Visit by Stefan Rahmstorf
Climate and marine researcher Stefan Rahmstorf was our keynote speaker at the ECH kick-off event. In his speech, "The Climate Debate - Between Science, Conspiracy Theorists and Populists", he focused on current issues such as the growing scepticism towards science in society and targeted media disinformation in the climate debate.
In our interview, he talks about possible tipping points in our climate, the critical role of the media, and the role of scientists in the climate debate. Learn more about his keynote speech and our interview.
Stefan Rahmstorf and Sabine Pahl
© Markus Korenjak; Stefan Rahmstorf and Sabine Pahl

ECH in Media

Press conference by Thilo Hofmann, Stefan Rahmstorf, and Sabine Pahl
© Nora Gau; Press conference by Thilo Hofmann, Stefan Rahmstorf, and Sabine Pahl

Our ECH researchers constantly engage with media to share their research and to inform on pressing climate and environmental issues.

After the ECH launch event, Co-directors Thilo Hofmann and Sabine Pahl represented the Hub in various interviews. Ulrike Felt, member of the ECH Management Board, was interviewed for Pragmaticus by ServusTV on the topic of "Science under pressure".

We are particularly pleased that one of our early career researchers at the Institute of German Studies, Sebastian Klinger, gave an  interview for DIE ZEIT Austria about his research area on the occasion of the ECH launch. In his interview Klinger gives an insight into the many facets of environmental scholarship from the perspective of literary studies.

We asked Sebastian Klinger why he decided to join the interdisciplinary ECH as a scholar in literature:

ECH Editorial Team:
In your experience, how does your field of research enrich the collective effort to solve today's complex societal challenges?

Sebastian Klinger
© private

Sebastian Klinger:

Literary and Cultural Studies strengthen the joint endeavour to tackle the intricate societal problems we face today in ways that differ from the natural sciences and engineering. Literary and cultural scholars are experts in nuanced historical and societal contextualization, analysis, and critique, and thus help us to develop a deeper understanding of how we ended up in the “Anthropocene.”

Moreover, pollution, biodiversity loss, global warming, and changes to the habitability profile of the earth pose more than just technical problems—they are also challenges to the cultural and political imagination.
Literary and cultural scholars enhance the collaborative endeavour aimed at addressing the complex societal issues of today when they reflect on the situatedness of our knowledge, unravel Anthropocentric and homogenizing grand narratives, give a voice to marginalized communities, and distil positive future-making imaginaries.

Hot Topic: The Public is Ready for Climate Reform 

Climate change sceptics and deniers have reached a level of public awareness that causes many people to develop an increasingly misanthropic and fatalistic view of what may or may not be possible in the fight to save our planet.
But the loud are not always the many, as a new mega-study on the psychology of climate change, led by ECH member Kimberly Doell, shows. The "Many Labs Study" offers a more optimistic look at how people view climate change and how they want to get involved.
In our interview, Kimberly Doell tells us more about the results of her study.

Upcoming Event: Environmental Dialogue

Cities are getting bigger and the weather more extreme. How can we continue to live in the world's metropolises during extreme weather events such as heat waves or heavy rainfall?
In other words, how can we redesign our cities to make them more resilient to heat? What are the solutions from the perspective of urban and environmental research, environmental law, public health, and urban planning?
These questions will be discussed at the next “Environmental dialogue” (DE: Umwelt im Gespräch) on 28th May 2024 at the Natural History Museum. More information on our website.
Environmental Dialogue
© Unsplash