Workshop 1. Towards a Theoretical Framework for the Industrial Ecology of Socioecological Systems


  • Stefan Pauliuk, University of Freiburg, Germany;
  • Claudia Binder, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland;
  • Helga Weisz, PIK Potsdam, Germany


JST Training Room, 811 W. Maxwell Street, Chicago, IL 60608



An overarching theoretical framework for industrial ecology can help to enhance the predictive capacity of industrial ecology models and to facilitate method and data integration. A closer alignment of industrial ecology research practice with theoretical principles may help to increase the relevance of IE research and reduce redundancy in data gathering and model development at the same time. It could also be a major contribution to the interdisciplinary description of socioecological systems from both a natural science (incl. engineering) and social science (incl. economic) perspective. Several frameworks exist and are being developed further. These include: the concept of socioecological systems (Binder et al. 2013; Hinkel et al. 2014), human-environment systems (Scholz & Binder 2011), the notion of society as hybrid between the social and biophysical realities (Fischer-Kowalski & Weisz 1999), and the notion of socioeconomic, urban, or industrial metabolism (Kennedy et al. 2007; Newell & Cousins 2014; Pauliuk & Hertwich 2015). The aim of the workshop and the underlying debate is how we can develop these concepts further to develop a truly interdisciplinary framework for the study of socioecological systems and industrial ecology in particular. Research methods include theoretical reflections, group discussions, as well as case study analysis and design.


Binder, C.R. et al., 2013. Comparison of Frameworks for Analyzing Social-ecological Systems. Ecology and Society, 18(4), p.26.
Fischer-Kowalski, M. & Weisz, H., 1999. Society as Hybrid between Material and Symbolic Realms: Toward a Theoretical Framework of Society-Nature Interaction. Advances in Human Ecology, 8, pp.215–251.
Hinkel, J., Bots, P.W.G. & Schlüter, M., 2014. Enhancing the Ostrom social-ecological system framework through formalization. Ecology and Society, 19(3), p.51.
Kennedy, C. et al., 2007. The changing metabolism of cities. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 11(2), pp.43–59. Available at: <Go to ISI>://000246782200006.
Newell, J.P. & Cousins, J.J., 2014. The boundaries of urban metabolism: Towards a political-industrial ecology. Progress in Human Geography. Available at: [Accessed December 16, 2014].
Pauliuk, S. & Hertwich, E.G., 2015. Socioeconomic Metabolism as Paradigm for Studying the Biophysical Basis of Human Society. Ecological Economics, 119, pp.83–93.
Scholz, R.W. & Binder, C.R., 2011. Environmental literacy in science and society: from knowledge to decisions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



workshop with introduction, two rounds in changing group constellations (world café), and a concluding panel discussion with 10-12 participants.

Intended participants:

Industrial ecology researchers and practitioners who share an interest in further development of the theoretical foundations of the field.

Number of participants: 15