Prof. Dr. Helga Weisz

FutureLab Leader

I have a background in molecular biology (Mag. rer. nat. from the University of Vienna 1995), cultural studies (Dr. phil. from Humboldt University Berlin, 2002) and social ecology (venia docendi from the University of Klagenfurt, 2006). My research focuses on the socially organized extraction of raw materials and energy, its transformation into goods and services, its use and final disposal to the environment as waste, emissions and heat, which collectively define the social metabolism. Transforming the industrial metabolism to reduce its environmental and resource impacts, while maintaining its function for human well-being, is a crucial challenge for sustainability. Currently demographic, distributional, health and power implications in various socio-metabolic settings are at the center of my research.


Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
P.O. Box 60 12 03
14412 Potsdam


Humboldt University Berlin: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor of Industrial Ecology and Climate Change

Administrative Assistant

Mrs. Manuela Lubinsky
Tel: +49(0)331 288-2602

Acadamic Background

2006 Venia Docendi (Habilitation) in Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria University.
2002  Doctor phil. in Cultural Studies, Kulturwissenschaftliches Seminar, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.
1995 Magister rer. nat. in Microbiology, Institut für physikalische Chemie, Universität Wien.

Past Positions

  • Co-chair of PIK research domain II: Climate impacts & vulnerability (2009-2012)
  • Guest professor School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University (2008)
  • Guest professor University St. Gallen (2007, 2009, 2011)
  • Associate Professor for socio-ecological sustainability science, Institute of Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria University, Vienna (IFF-Vienna). (2006-2009)
  • Assistant Professor, IFF-Vienna (2002-2006)
  • Research fellow and lecturer, IFF-Vienna (1995-2002)
  • Free lance research assistant, IFF-Vienna, (1991 – 1995)


  • Lenton, T. M.; Pichler, P.-P.; Weisz, H. (2016), Revolutions in energy input and material cycling in Earth history and human history, Earth System Dynamics, 7 , 2, pp 353-370.
  • Krausmann, F.; Weisz, H.; Eisenmenger, N. (2016), Transitions in Sociometabolic Regimes Throughout Human History, Social Ecology, pp 63-92, Ed.: Haberl, H.; Fischer-Kowalski, M.; Krausmann, F.; Winiwarter, V., Cham : Springer


  • Agarwala, M.; Binner, A.; Weisz, H.; Schellnhuber, H. J.; Doherty, P.; Moerner, W. E.; Smoot, G. F. (2015), Climate policy: Push to decarbonize cities after Paris talks [Correspondence], Nature, 528 , 7581, pp 193-193.
  • Weisz, H.; Suh, S.; Graedel, T. E. (2015), Industrial Ecology: The role of manufactured capital in sustainability [Introduction], Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 112 , 20, pp. 6260-6264


  • Schaffartzik, A.; Eisenmenger, N.; Krausmann, F.; Weisz, H. (2014), Consumption-based material flow accounting. Austrian trade and consumption in Raw Material Equivalents 1995-2007, Journal of Industrial Ecology, 18, 1, pp.102-112


  • Minx, J.; Baiocchi, G.; Wiedmann, T.; Barrett, J.; Creutzig, F.; Feng, K.; Förster, M.; Pichler, P.-P.; Weisz, H.; Hubacek, K. (2013), Carbon footprints of cities and other human settlements in the UK, Environmental Research Letters, 8 , 035039
  • Weisz, H. (2013), Towards a socio-metabolic history of cities, In: Mieg, H. and Töpfer, K. (eds.): Social Urban Transformations: Social innovations for local and global sustainability change, Earthscan by Routledge, pp. 323-334
  • Steinberger, J.; Weisz, H. (2013), City walls and urban hinterlands. The importance of system boundaries , In: Grubler; A.; Fisk, D. (eds.): Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy, Earthscan by Routledge, pp. 41-56
  • Weisz, H.; Koch, H.; Lasch, P.; Walkenhorst, O.; Peters, V.; Vögele, S.; Hattermann, F. F.; Huang, S.; Aich, V.; Büchner, M.; Gutsch, M.; Pichler, P.-P.; Suckow, F. (2013), Methode einer integrierten und erweiterten Vulnerabilitätsbewertung: Konzeptuell-methodische Grundlagen und exemplarische Umsetzung für Wasserhaushalt, Stromerzeugung und energetische Nutzung von Holz unter Klimawandel, Berlin : Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit, p. 251


  • Bai, X.; Dhakal, S.; Steinberger, J.; Weisz, H. (2012), Drivers of urban energy use and main policy leverages, In: Grubler, A.; Fisk, D. (eds.): Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy, Earthscan by Routledge. pp. 120-134
  • A. Grubler, X. Bai, T. Buettner, S. Dhakal, D. J. Fisk, T. Ichinose, J. Keirstead, G. Sammer, D. Satterthwaite, N. B. Schulz, N. Shah, J. Steinberger, H. Weisz (2012), Urban Energy Systems, In: L. Gomez-Echeverri, T.B. Johansson, N. Nakicenovic, A. Patwardhan, (eds.), Global Energy Assessment: Toward a Sustainable Future, IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria and Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K. and New York, USA. pp. 1307-1400


  • Weisz, H.; Clark, E. (2011), Society-nature coevolution: interdisciplinary concept for sustainability, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 93, pp. 281-287
  • Weisz, H. (2011) , The probability of the improbable. Society-nature coevolution, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 93, pp. 325-336
  • Fischer-Kowalski, M.; Krausmann, F.; Giljum, S.; Lutter, S.; Mayer, A.; Bringezu, S.; Moriguchi, Y.; Schütz, H.; Schandl, H.; Weisz, H. (2011), Methodology and Indicators of Economy-wide Material Flow Accounting, Journal of Industrial Ecology 15, pp. 855-876


  • Weisz, H.; J. K. Steinberger (2010), Reducing energy and material flows in cities, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2, 3, pp. 185–192


  • Weisz, H. (2009), Wenn alles bleiben soll wie es ist, muss sich alles ändern. Kommentar zu R. P. Sieferle (GAIA 17/2, 2008) und M. Fischer-Kowalski (GAIA 18/1, 2009), GAIA 18/2, pp. 104-106
  • Weisz, H.; Tukker, A. (2009), Book review: Sangwon Suh (Ed): Handbook of Input-Output Economics in Industrial Ecology, Journal of Industrial Ecology, 13 , 5, pp. 830-832


  • Weisz, H.; Schandl, H. (2008), Editorial: Material use across world regions. Inevitable pasts and possible futures, Journal of Industrial Ecology, 12, 5-6, pp. 629-636

Winter term 2017/2018

Überfluss und Knappheit: Welternährung aus kultureller und sozial-ökologischer Perspektive

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft

Summer term 2016

Luhmann lesen - Lektürekurs: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft und Institut für Sozialwissenschaften.

Winter term 2015/2016

Biologische und kulturelle Evolution: Von Darwin zu Luhmann, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft und Institut für Sozialwissenschaften.

Summer term 2015

Energie, Gesellschaft, Geschichte, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft und Institut für Sozialwissenschaften.

Beratungskompetenz als Komplementärkompetenz für Nachhaltigkeitswissenschaftler, Alpen-Adria Universität, Institut für Soziale Ökologie, IFF-Wien, 26./27.3. und 19./20.5.2015

Summer term 2013

Sustainable Cities: an Oxymoron? Guest lecture at the Institute for Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria University, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna: 29.4. 2013, 18:00 -20:00.

Sustainable and Low Carbon Urban systems. Sommerakademie der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. 11. – 24. 8. 2013, Leysin, Schweiz (together with Felix Creutzig, MCC).