About Iris Kunze

Dr. Iris Kunze, born in 1976, is a researcher and project manager in the field of sustainable lifestyles, community, social innovations and civil society movements since 2001.

My moving path

Iris during research in Findhorn Ecovillage, GB, 2013.

Moved by the trust that we can live more sustainably and vividly with nature and in our communities, I made a “Voluntary Ecological Year” after graduation in 1995. Anti-nuclear power, anti-car and my first demonstration against climate change in 1995, have caused the more or less real shock, in which many now come into, already 25 years ago. I managed – e.g. through meditation – to expand my sophisticated world view across anti-attitudes and diverse social, economic, and environmental issues to holistic alternatives. In order to learn how to make a difference, I then studied geography, sociology and politics in Münster, was active in many environmental groups, coordinated the nationwide, student ecology work (BSÖ), became a vegetarian, have never owned a car and became aware of so called ecovillages and ‘intentional communities’. I also experimented with integral approaches to the world, research and science – together we founded the Institute for Integral Studies (IFIS) in 2008.

Since 2001, I have been researching eco-communities and social innovation initiatives as experiments for a more sustainable way of life. I am grateful to have repeatedly found opportunities in university research for this unusual topic, and that I was able to pass on my findings in teaching. During this time, I lived not only for several weeks for research, but three times for several years in ecological communities, as co-organizer, co-owner and co-liver (in Soest, the connection media center and Ecovillage Sieben Linden). These experiences have deepened my research findings, which I now again carry into the wider society: 2019 I moved back to Vienna and work mainly at the Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development (ÖIN) through practical research with partners from corporate and municipal sectors. Furthermore, I am actively consulting in the field of sustainability and community life for projects of all kinds.

Stations of my life journey

  • 1995-96 Voluntary Ecological Year at the Jugendumweltbüro Oldenburg
  • 1996-2003 study of geography, sociology, political science, active in university environmental policy, i.a. Managing Director of the Federal Coordination of Student Ecological Work (BSÖ)
  • 1999-2001 life and participation in the ,Live differently Project’ in Soest.
  • 2001 to 2011: Development and establishment of joint research at the University of Münster at the chair Prof. Matthias Grundmann (including diploma and doctorate)
  • since 2008 co-founder of the Institute for Integral Studies (IFIS), Freiburg
  • 2011 to 2013: Post-doc at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) at the Doctoral School Sustainable Development (dokne)
  • 2014 to 2019: Research Project Manager at the Center for Global Change and Sustainability (GWN) of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU). Projects: TRANSIT, LiFT, COSIMA.
  • 2016 to 2019 live in the ecovillage Sieben Linden, Saxony-Anhalt, e.g. Member of the Board of the cooperative
  • since 2019 research manager at the Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development (ÖIN), St.Pölten, AT

Certificates, trainings (selection)

  • “Pioneers of change” Further Education year 2018-19
  • Collaboratory process facilitator for multistakeholder processes (leadership for transition) (since 2015)
  • International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) board member since 2013
  • Research coordination Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) (2014-1018).
  • Dr. phil. (Geography and Sociology) (since 2009) on “Social Innovations for Sustainable Living. Communities and ecovillages as experimental learning fields for social-ecological sustainability. “
  • Geography diploma (since 2003)

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