Research Areas - Clusters and selected projects

While the Department maintains an overall interdisciplinary focus on environmental sustainability, it has articulated five areas of academic strength, which help to organize its teaching and strengthen research visibility. Each area includes several closely collaborating faculty members and involves PhD students united by a common problem focus, epistemology, and methods.  

The five areas include: 

  • Environmental and Resource Governance - ERG
    (leader: Alexios Antypas) 
    Despite a high level of awareness, current trends in environmental and resource governance continue to lead to environmentally unsustainable and socially inequitable outcomes in which the global and local environments and the prospects for human flourishing continue to deteriorate. The study of environmental and resource governance includes the study of environmental regimes, environmental law, the integration of environmental policy into other policy sectors, the science/policy interface and the processes of integrating environmental information into policy, comparative environmental policy, and the politics of the environment. Furthermore, many environmental problems are inherited from the past, therefore studying the environmental history of contemporary debates brings a better understanding of the current state of events and provides more balanced recommendations for the future. 
  • Environmental Justice, Politics and Humanities - JPH
    (leader: Alan Watt)
    JPH is a platform for critical inquiry and deliberative analysis that addresses environmental challenges through collaborative research, politically engaged approaches, and commitment to fostering a world that is socially just and sustainable. We take a critical and complex stand on the conceptualizations of nature and culture, and how they structure social wellbeing, scientific inquiry, and environmental problem-solving, particularly in light of diverse environmental values and ethics, power dynamics, and conceptions of environmental justice. Toward these ends, we engage a diversity of research methods across socio-ecological and political scales ranging from participatory action research and ethnographic field work to textual and content analyses that respect and reflect different ways of knowing. Thematic foci include environmental and social justice issues surrounding extractive industries; the political ecology of food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture; and environmental philosophy. 
  • Energy Transitions and Climate Change - ETC
    (leader: Aleh Cherp)
    The Energy Transitions and Climate Change area focuses on the changes in energy production, transformation and use which are needed to avoid dangerous climate change while meeting other sustainability and development challenges. We are researching the change in energy systems at the corporate, sectoral, urban, national and global scales. Our scholarship is connected to such disciplines as energy economics, engineering economics, energy systems analysis, urban studies, innovation and organizational studies, socio-technical transition studies and political science. We use a variety of methods ranging from quantitative modeling to qualitative comparative analysis of cases and discourse analysis. Our specific topics and themes include energy security, national energy transitions, urban systems, energy systems innovations, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and multiple impacts of climate change mitigation.  
  • Sustainable Management of Socio-Ecological Systems - SES
    (leader: László Pintér)
    For the purposes of this collaborative area, socio-ecological systems (SES) are defined as spatial and/or functional units with closely integrated ecological, economic, socio-cultural, and governance components. The area covers and studies systemic properties and management of SES in diverse place-based contexts to understand their complex structures and functions, non-linear and emergent behavior and ability to maintain resilience and integrity while delivering goods and services necessary to meet both human and non-human needs. SES are studied on multiple scales in diverse geographic, political, and ecosystem contexts using quantitative and qualitative, including participatory, methods and with an emphasis on using multiple lines of evidence to support decision-making. Thematic foci include biodiversity conservation, environmental monitoring, SDG implementation, adaptive management and resilience, and agroecology. 
  • Resource and Disaster Management and Pollution Control - RMP
    (leader: Zoltán Illés)
    Extraction and use of mineral and organic resources have always been essential for human survival, but increased scale and speed of resource extraction today has made human intervention a major force, comparable to major geological transformations. Human activity not only interferes with biogeochemical cycles of many elements and compounds, it also creates huge amounts of pollution and waste which transform natural habitats and living conditions for all living creatures including humans around the world, endangering food and water security. In order to get a clear picture of resource use, pollution control and effects, we need proper and adequate methods of monitoring the present state of the environment, which can also lead to proper predictions of future developments.  In this modern and changing environment, and in the face of global climate change, the probability of extreme events and disasters is also growing, and various innovative tools and applications relevant to disaster risk reduction and the enhancement of community resilience become ever more important.  Researchers associated with RMP study these issues using methods such as environmental modeling, spatial analysis, and information and communication technologies (ICTs). Thematic foci include river basins and water security, watershed management, flood resilience, disaster risk reduction, and food security.

These areas are not isolated, as interaction among the areas is an essential feature of the departmental structure and our common understanding of environment and society as a co-evolving, integrated whole, as shown in the figure below. Many faculty members contribute to more than one area.

Ongoing projects and research highlights:

Environmental and Resource Governance (ERG)

The ERG area has launched an expanded study of far-right environmentalism in Eastern Europe and the development of Rio Principle 10. ERG researchers are also currently engaged in studies of the policy implications of the growing role of the vegan movement within environmentalism and the effects of Trump Administration policies on the energy transition of the U.S. Department of Defense that had begun under previous administrations. 

Research highlights:  

  1. Antypas, Alexios. 2019 (forthcoming). “COP24, the Paris Rulebook and Diminished Expectations for COP25,” Environmental Liability
  2. Antypas, Alexios. 2019 (forthcoming). “A Global Pact for the Environment and the Effort to Secure Global Environmental Norms,” Environmental Law and Management.  
  3. Duprey, Brendan and Alexios Antypas. 2018. “Natura 2000: Bulgaria’s Park “On Paper,” Employment and Economy in Central and Eastern Europe. 7 (1). 
  4. Lubarda, Balsa. 2019 (forthcoming). “Beyond Eco-fascism? Far Right Ecologism as a Framework for Future Inquiries,” Environmental Values
  5. Antypas, Alexios. 2017. "Putting Meat on the Agenda: The Kornoivia Joint Work on Agriculture and the Effort to Link Animal Agriculture and Climate Change at the UNFCCC." Environmental Liability. 35 (3). 
  6. Josephson, P., Dronin, N., Mnatsakanian, R., Cherp, A., Efremenko, D. and Larin, V., 2013. An environmental history of Russia. Cambridge University Press. 

Energy Transitions and Climate Change (ETC)

Exploring National and Global Actions to reduce Greenhouse gas Emissions (ENGAGE) H2020, lead of work package on multidimensional feasibility of climate mitigation pathways; Sustainable Energy Transitions Laboratory (SENTINEL) H2020, Lead of work package on energy demand modeling; ENEFIRST project in H2020: Making energy efficiency first principle operational; and the Otto-Wagner-Areal Plus project, funded by the Austrian Research Agency, to plan the renovation of the OWA into an energy plus district, the first such historic district in the world.  

Research highlights:  

  1. Jewell, J., Vinichenko, V., Nacke, L., Cherp, A. 2019. Prospects for powering past coal Nature Climate Change https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0509-6  
  2. Cherp, A., Vinichenko, V., Jewell, J., Brutschin, E., Sovacool, B. 2018. Integrating techno-economic, socio-technical and political perspectives on national energy transitions: A meta-theoretical framework.  Energy Research and Social Sciences  37, 175-190. 
  3. LaBelle, M.,2017. In Pursuit of Energy Justice.  Energy Policy, Vol. 107: 615-620. 
  4. LaBelle, M., 2017. A state of fracking: Building Poland’s national innovation capacity for shale gas.  Energy Research and Social Sciences, Vol. 23: 26-35 
  5. Ürge-Vorsatz, D., Rosenzweig, C., Dawson, R. J., Rodriguez, R. S., Bai, X., Barau, A. S., ... & Dhakal, S. 2018. Locking in positive climate responses in cities. Nature Climate Change, 8(3), 174.  
  6. Güneralp, B., Zhou, Y., Ürge-Vorsatz, D., Gupta, M., Yu, S., Patel, P. L., ... & Seto, K. C. 2017. Global scenarios of urban density and its impacts on building energy use through 2050. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 114(34), 8945-8950. 

Environmental and Resource Governance (ERG) 

The ERG area has launched an expanded study of far-right environmentalism in Eastern Europe and the development of Rio Principle 10. ERG researchers are also currently engaged in studies of the policy implications of the growing role of the vegan movement within environmentalism and the effects of Trump Administration policies on the energy transition of the U.S. Department of Defense that had begun under previous administrations. 

Research highlights:  

  1. Antypas, Alexios. 2019 (forthcoming). “COP24, the Paris Rulebook and Diminished Expectations for COP25,” Environmental Liability
  2. Antypas, Alexios. 2019 (forthcoming). “A Global Pact for the Environment and the Effort to Secure Global Environmental Norms,” Environmental Law and Management.  
  3. Duprey, Brendan and Alexios Antypas. 2018. “Natura 2000: Bulgaria’s Park “On Paper,” Employment and Economy in Central and Eastern Europe. 7 (1). 
  4. Lubarda, Balsa. 2019 (forthcoming). “Beyond Eco-fascism? Far Right Ecologism as a Framework for Future Inquiries,” Environmental Values
  5. Antypas, Alexios. 2017. "Putting Meat on the Agenda: The Kornoivia Joint Work on Agriculture and the Effort to Link Animal Agriculture and Climate Change at the UNFCCC." Environmental Liability. 35 (3). 
  6. Josephson, P., Dronin, N., Mnatsakanian, R., Cherp, A., Efremenko, D. and Larin, V., 2013. An environmental history of Russia. Cambridge University Press. 

Environmental Justice, Politics and Humanities (JPH) 

Ongoing projects include the Horizon 2020 Project (2019-2021): Urban Arena for Sustainable and Equitable Solutions (URBANA), and a recently submitted H2020 proposal, “Transitioning Coal Cultures -- TRACC 5: Pathways to a just transition in five European regions.”   

Research highlights:  

  1. Aistara, G.A., 2018. Organic Sovereignties: Struggles over Farming in an Age of Free Trade. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 
  2. Aistara, G.A., 2014. Actually existing tomatoes: politics of memory, variety, and empire in Latvian struggles over seeds. Focaal, 2014(69): 12-27. 
  3. Steger, T. 2019. Inequalities in Inability to Keep the Home Adequately Warm. WHO Environmental Health Inequalities in Europe. Second Assessment Report. 
  4. Steger, T., R. Filcak, & K. Harper. 2018. Environmental Justice in Central and Eastern Europe: Mobilization, Stagnation, and Detraction. In Holifield, R., Chakraborty, J., Walker, G (Eds). The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice. London: Routledge. 
  5. Steger, T. and M. Milicevic. 2014. One Global Movement, Many Local Voices: Discourse(s) of the Global Anti-Fracking Movement. In Liam Leonard, Sya Buryn Kedzior (ed.) Occupy the Earth: Global Environmental Movements (Advances in Sustainability and Environmental Justice, Volume 15) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, p. 1 - 35.  
  6. Watt, A.  Forthcoming. Nietzsche, Rancière, and the disputation of politics. In Nietzsche and the politics of difference, ed. Woodward, A. and Rehberg, A. Berlin: de Gruyter. 

Sustainable Management of Socio-ecological Systems (SES)  

Ongoing projects include a management effectiveness evaluation in the Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere Reserve and a study of predation induced livestock loss adjacent to the Kruger National Park – monitoring the scale, scope and the impact of compensation; documenting and analyzing the intellectual history of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook system; the Horizon-2020 NATURVATION project on urban nature-based solutions; and the European University of Social Sciences (CIVICA). 

Research highlights: 

  1. Matar, Diane & Anthony, Brandon P. 2019. Sense and Sustainability: The Story of Biosphere Reserves in Lebanon. In UNESCO Biosphere Reserves: Supporting Biocultural Diversity, Sustainability and Society. Reed, M. & Price, M. (eds). pp. 135-148. London, UK: Earthscan. 
  2. Milatovic, Luna, Anthony, Brandon P., & Swemmer, Tony. 2019. Estimating conservation effectiveness across protected areas in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Koedoe 61(1): a1530. 
  3. Sukanan, Darunee & Anthony, Brandon P. 2019. Community attitudes towards bears, bear bile use and bear conservation in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 15: 15 pp.  
  4. Frantzeskaki, N., T. McPhearson, M.J. Collier, D. Kendal, H. Bulkeley, A. Dumitru, C. Walsh, K. Noble, E. van Wyk, C. Ordonez, C. Oke and L. Pintér. 2019. Nature-based solutions for urban climate change adaptation: Linking science, policy, and practice communities for evidence-based decision-making. BioScience 69 (6) 455–466. 
  5. Pintér, L., M. Kok and D. Almassy. 2017. Implementing sustainable development goals and measuring progress: A governance perspective. In F. Biermann and N. Kanie, editors. Governing through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 

Resource and Disaster Management and Pollution Control (RMP) 

Ongoing projects include assessing climate change impact on food and water security in Kyrgyzstan using GoogleEarth Engine and other space-related technologies (in cooperation with FAO and American University of Kyrgyzstan), and the evaluation of the impact of climate and land cover changes within watersheds on the Don and Kura river hydrology. 

Research highlights: 

  1. Lagutov, V. (ed). 2011. Environmental Security in Watersheds (NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security) Springer. 
  2. Lagutov, V. (ed). 2008. Rescue of Sturgeon Species in the Ural River Basin (NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security) Springer. 
  3. Lagutov, V. 2008. Sustainable Development of Watersheds: Using Sturgeon Species as an Indicator in Integrated Trans-Boundary Water Management. In: I.E. Gonenc (ed). Sustainable Use and Development of Watersheds. Springer  
  4. Novikov, V., Lagutov V., Sazykina, T., Gorlinskii, Y., Nikol'skii, O. and Pavlenko, V. 2005. Assessment of the Effect of Temporary Storage Sites for Radioactive Wastes on the Territory of the Russian Science Center Kurchatov Institute on the Population and the Environment. Atomic Energy 99. (2): 588. Springer 
  5. Mnatsakanian RA, Cherp A. 2008. Environmental degradation in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia: past roots, present transition and future hopes. In: Heaney D, editor. Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. London: Routledge.. p. 38-42. 
  6. United Nations Environment Programme. 2007. Global environment outlook 4: Environment for development. Mnatsakanian RA, Bellinger EG, Ürge-Vorsatz D, editors. Nairobi, Kenya London: United Nations Environment Programme.   

Departmental Systems Laboratory

Departmental students and faculty are supported by the Departmental Systems Laboratory (Syslab) on the Budapest campus, aiming at use of latest Information and Communication Technologies in various environmental domains (http://syslab.ceu.edu ). Special attention is paid to Geographic Information Systems, remote sensing using satellite imagery and modeling of environmental and social systems. Syslab possesses licenses for ArcGIS package and other commercial geospatial products. Through its capacity building project (http://isepei.org), the laboratory conducts regular in-service trainings for practitioners and professionals on using ICTs in various domains, such as disaster management, water security, biodiversity conservation, among others. The laboratory cooperates with global leaders in geospatial technologies, such as UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, UN Development Program, UN FAO, European Commission's Joint Research Center, Esri, Google, MAXAR, Planet, among others, which allows students and researchers to utilize the resources of these organizations   

Embeddedness of Department in Broader Academic Community 

Given the broad scope and policy relevance of its research activities, departmental faculty is represented in many prominent professional associations and have a regular presence in high-level scientific conferences. Faculty members have also played and continue to play a lead role in well-known science-policy fora and assessments such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Global Environment Outlook (GEO), the Global Energy Assessment (GAE) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).        

Our faculty are actively engaged in a very wide variety of projects and activities on many levels and of various scales: research ranges from individual projects funded by CEU to EU international collaborations and EU framework projects, as well as projects supported by various UN agencies (UNDP, UNEP, FAO). We are also securing governmental or institutional grants from various countries, including the US, Hungary, Russia, Sweden, the UK, and France. The Department has a solid track record of attracting external research grants, and during 2018 departmental faculty was involved in four new major EU grant applications. Faculty also publish in a wide range of journals, books, and policy fora. 

Departmental Research Projects  (selected)

Completed: 

  • 2007 – 2010 Marie Curie RTN – AQUATRAIN: Geogenic chemicals in groundwaters and soils 
  • 2007-2015 FP6 IP – STACCATO: Sustainable Technologies and Combined Community Approaches Take Off 
  • 2009 – 2012 Erasmus Joint Project - Improvement of education on environmental management 
  • 2011-2015 UNEP GEO5 - Support to Prof. Pinter serving as Coordinating Lead Author of the Scenario chapter of GEO-5 and the European GEO-6 report; 
  • 2011-2012 ZOI/UNEP - Environmental scenario for Belarusian energy security 
  • 2011-2014 FP7 Collaborative – CRISP: Creating Innovative Sustainability Pathways 
  • 2011-2013 FP7 - ENVIROGRIDS: Building Capacity for a Black Sea Catchment Observation and Assessment System supporting Sustainable Development 
  • 2011-2014 FP7 Collaborative – LIMITS: Low Climate Impact Scenarios and the Implications of required tight emission control strategies 
  • 2012-2015 Resilience in the Limpopo Basin Program (RESILIM) - Olifants (O) Programme, South Africa, funded by AWARD (Association for Water and Rural Development / USAID) 
  • 2016 FP7 Collaborative – ARTS: Accelerating and Rescaling Transitions to Sustainability 
  • 2013-2015 Application of Information and Communication Technologies in Water Management (ISEPEI) funded by UNEP 
  • 2016-2018 Evaluating impact of climate change on Reindeer habitats, funded by University of Oslo 
  • 2011-2018 FP7 IMPRESSIONS: Impacts and Risks from High-end scenarios: Strategies for Innovative Solutions 
  • 2017 Mapping of human-wildlife interaction of the Mauritius Fruit Bat (Pteropus niger) in Mauritius, funded by CEU and Mauritius Wildlife Foundation  

Current: 

  • ENGAGE (Exploring National and Global Actions to reduce Greenhouse gas Emissions) - H2020 grant  
  • URBANA (Urban Arena for Sustainable and Equitable Solutions) Horizon 2020 Project (2019-2021)
  • NATURVATION )- NATure-based URban innoVATION  H2020 Collaborative - (SCC-03-2016) 
  • 2017 Erasmus+: Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree: Masters in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management  MESPOM 586567-EPP-1-2017-1-HU-EPPKA1-JMD-MOB, coordinated by CEU (3rd Erasmus + grant managed for MESPOM) 
  • Jean Monnet Chair in Energy and Innovation Strategies, The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Union, Erasmus+ Programme, Michael LaBelle, 2017 – 2020. 

For details and more projects please visit our  projects page.