Dr. Iris Kunze, researcher on communities and sustainable ways of living.
I am educated as a social geographer and sociologist at the university of Münster, Germany. I had lived in communities for several years, when I started in 2002 with researching and teaching on intentional communities, ecovillages and sustainable life styles expressed in my Diploma and doctoral thesis.
After coordinating the doctoral school of sustainable development at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, I am working as a post-doc researcher at the Center for Global Change and Sustainability, BOKU, since 2013.
My research and teaching expertise is focused on the fields of sociological community research, social movements, transition studies, sustainability research, social ecology, and social innovation. I am working with qualitative methods and transdisciplinary action research.
My activities include:
– Since 2014 co-founder and coordinator of the international GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) research group
– Since 2008 founding board member of the Institute of Integral Studies (IFIS), Freiburg.
– board member of the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA).
Currently I am involved in the following projects:
TRANSIT (TRANsformative Social Innovation Theory) is an ambitious international EU FP7-research project that studies how people are empowered to work towards social innovation and societal transformation. It is co-funded by the EU and runs for four years, from 2014 until 2017. TRANSIT uses a research method which encourages feedback from social entrepreneurs, innovators and policy makers to develop a theory with practical relevance. In this project we study social innovation initiatives that are locally active and globally connected, by carrying out in-depth case study analysis of 20+ transnational networks across Europe and Latin America. One of those case studies will be on the Global Ecovillage Network.
COSIMA (Governing community-based social innovation for climate change mitigation and adaptation). (Zur Projektbeschreibung und Berichten in deutsch) The objective of the research project COSIMA, which is co-supported by the Austrian Climate Research Program, is to analyse how community-based initiatives develop and stabilise climate change mitigation and adaptation practices and to identify policy instru-ments and governance mechanisms to support the development, stabilisation and main-streaming of these practices. The project will link empirical analysis of community-based initiatives (eco-villages and low-carbon municipalities), stakeholder involvement and the development of policy strategies and instruments.
LiFT 2.0 (Leadership for transition), a European collaborative project brings together innovative researchers, practitioners and citizens engaged in the fields of leadership, education and societal transition to promote more integrative, more effective and thus more sustainable ways of living in Europe and beyond. The project rationale holds that in times of multidimensional crisis, leadership increasingly needs to empower individuals and society at large to take over responsibility for working towards the common good.
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