Researchers and Institutions affiliated with the Institute
Kari Polanyi Levitt is Emerita Professor of Economics at McGill University. Born in Vienna, educated in England, she obtained a BSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics with First Class Honours and the Farr Medal in Statistics in 1947. Following ten years of engagement in trade union research and publication in Toronto, she returned to university and obtained an MA from the University of Toronto in 1959 and an appointment in the Department of Economics at McGill University in 1961. She taught a variety of courses, but her special interests were Techniques of Development Planning and Development Economics.
Her major research was in the construction of input-output tables of the Atlantic provinces of Canada published by Statistics Canada in 1975. Concurrently she studied the effects of Foreign Direct Investment on host countries published as Silent Surrender: The Multinational Corporation in Canada; Macmillan of Canada, 1970, many times reprinted, most recently in 2002 by McGill-Queen’s Press; also translated to French, La Capitulation Tranquille, 1972.
Since her first contact with the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 1961 and as a founding member of McGill’s Centre for Developing-Area Studies in 1963, she maintained a continuous relationship with graduate students and faculty of UWI, including collaboration with Alister McIntyre in Canada-West Indies Economic Relations (1967) and with Lloyd Best in developing the Plantation Economy paradigm at McGill from 1966 to 1968 published as Essays on the Theory of Plantation Economy: A Historical and Institutional Approach to Caribbean Economic Development; UWI Press, Jamaica, 2009.
On the basis of her experience in multi-sectoral economic accounting, and her familiarity with Caribbean economies, she was appointed as national income advisor on the construction of a system of National Accounts for Trinidad and Tobago (1969 to 1973). She undertook a study for the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America on bargaining with transnational bauxite/aluminium companies (1976); a review of Haiti’s National Accounts for the World Bank (1986); and a review of Canada-Caribbean relations for the Canadian Parliamentary Sub Committee on Foreign Affairs (Hansard, July 1982).
In 1974 she served as Visiting Professor at the Institute of International Relations at UWI- St Augustine; Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, UWI- Mona 1978-1980; taught Theories of Economic Development at the Consortium Graduate School of Social Sciences at UWI- Mona from 1989-1995; appointed the first George Beckford Professor of Caribbean Economy, 1995-1997, where she compiled The George Beckford Papers, Canoe Press, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, 2000. Public lectures and research papers published were published as Reclaiming Development: Independent Thought and Caribbean Community, Ian Randle, Jamaica, 2005.
Professor Levitt is a founding member of the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID), recipient of the J. K. Galbraith Prize from the Progressive Economics Forum of Canada (2008), and an honourary doctorate from The University of the West Indies. Professor Levitt is Honourary President of the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy at Concordia University, established in 1987; she edited The Life and Work of Karl Polanyi: A Celebration, Black Rose Books, Montreal, 1988; co-edited with Kenneth McRobbie, Karl Polanyi in Vienna; Black Rose Books, Montreal, 2000; and manages the literary legacy of her father, Karl Polanyi. She was inducted into the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2004.
Her early interest in Development Economics has extended to the History of Development Thought in the context of the evolution of capitalism and its impact on the non-European world from the era of Mercantilism to the present. From the Great Transformation to the Great Financialization: on Karl Polanyi and other essays, Zed Books, 2013, includes a tribute essay to the economist Surendra Patel in the form of a trajectory of capitalism from its origins in mercantilist trade and conquest to neoliberal globalization and the financial crises of 2008.
In 2014, she received the Order of Canada for her work on Caribbean and other issues of economic development. In recent years, she has participated in conferences on the life and work of Karl Polanyi. Her latest contribution addresses Karl Polanyi’s vision of a socialist Transformation, in a collection of essays on Karl Polanyi under the same title, published by Black Roses Book, 2018
Technical University (TU) of Darmstadt, Research Associate
Lisa Deutsch is a PhD candidate and research associate at the Technical University (TU) of Darmstadt. Born in Vienna, she obtained two Bachelor degrees (Sociology and Political Science) from the University of Vienna. During her Bachelor’s she spent two semesters at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City, where she focused on (neo-)extractivism and natural resource use in Latin America. Subsequently, she studied Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy (MSc) at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), completing the programme with a thesis on the gender-environment interface from a critical realist perspective by conducting a case study in Austria. Her current research at TU Darmstadt focuses upon the interaction of technical infrastructure systems, urban ecosystems and the urban environment in developing countries. Lisa Deutsch is part of the interdisciplinary junior research group SEE-URBAN-WATER, conducting a case study in León, the second largest city of Nicaragua. Her research interest is directed towards social-ecological transformation, political ecology, the gender-environment interface, as well as philosophy of science and Latin America.
Master 2017; Supervisor: Prof. Clive L. Spash
Research Assistant (pre doc) at Boku, Institute for Sustainable Economic Development
Heidi Leonhardt holds a BSc in Environmental Management from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Boku) Vienna and a MSc in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy. She wrote her Master Thesis with Prof. Clive Spash on Degrowth and Non-Growing firms in Austria. After finishing her Master's degree in 2015 she returned to Boku's Institute for Sustainable Economic Development for her PhD studies and as a research assistant (pre doc). At Boku, Heidi researches the behaviour of Austrian farmers; more specifically the influence of institutions on farmers' soil use. She focuses on interdisciplinary and mixed method research, ranging from econometric analysis to qualitative interviews and Q methodology. Moreover, she is involved in the society for pluralist economics education in Vienna and teaches economics and history of economic thought in Vienna and Graz, respectively. Her research interests beyond farming include topics on Degrowth and Social Ecological Economics.
Master 2015; Supervisor: Prof. Clive L. Spash
Independent researcher & Rethinking Economics Norway
Tone Smith is a researcher in the fields of ecological economics, social-ecological transformation, institutional change and degrowth. She defended her doctoral thesis on The Role of Numbers in Environmental Politics in 2017, a topic chosen after working many years at Statistics Norway and with the OECD in the field of sustainability indicators, environmental performance assessment, environmental-economic accounting and environmental statistics. Her research addresses questions at the interface of the natural and social sciences, and also issues related to scientific knowledge and philosophy of science. The latter has led to the setting up of the the Vienna Critical Realist Workshop series, of which she is a co-organiser.
After finishing her doctoral studies, Smith worked for the Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism during the Austrian Presidency of the EU Council. She worked on policy issues related to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), preparing position papers and acting as a negotiator on behalf of the European Union Member States during the Austrian Presidency period in 2018. She has also been teaching economics at various Austrian universities (FH Krems, FH Bfi Wien) besides the WU.
Since 2019, she is an independent researcher and freelance writer, active in the Rethinking Economics network, and still associated with the WU and the Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development (MLGD). In 2020, she was part of the organisation team & advisory board of Degrowth Vienna 2020 - online conference co-hosted by the MLGD, and part-time post-doc preparing a research project on Post-Covid Economics.
PhD. 2017; Supervisor: Dr. Andreas Novy
Trainee at the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC)
Paola Laini holds a BSc in Sustainability and Environmental Management from the University of Leeds (UK), School of Earth and Environment. During a Summer Research Internship, she supported the university Sustainability Research Institute and the Climate Change Adaptation Group in conducting a study on climate change adaptation by UK organisations commissioned by the UK government. In Vienna, she conducted her MSc in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy (SEEP) at WU and graduated in October 2019. She wrote her master thesis with prof. Viviana Asara on socio-ecological movements and their role in the transformation of development discourses. After finishing her Master’s degree, she turned her thesis into a paper in view of a possible publication. Since March 2020, Paola has started her internship with the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) in Brussels. ECVC represents the voice of peasants and agricultural workers at the EU level and tries to influence policymaking towards a socially and ecologically just agriculture in Europe and outside.
Paola has a strong interest in grassroots agriculture and Agroecology, and she is active member of a Community Supported Agriculture project in Vienna. She is also interested in social movement research and she has collaborated with NGOs which support socio-environmental justice movements in both Italy and Austria.
Master 2019; Supervisor: Dr. Viviana Asara
Eurac Research in Bolzano (Italy)
Felix Windegger studied Philosophy (BA) and Economics and Social Sciences (BSc) in Vienna and Edinburgh. He then obtained a MSc in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy. In his master thesis, he analysed the hegemonic neoliberal interpretation of freedom and its crucial role as an ethical justification for a socially and environmentally unsustainable and unjust political-economic system—and, as such, also as a barrier to a social-ecological transformation of society. Moreover, he offered a re-conceptualisation of the notion of freedom consistent with the vision of a future degrowth society. After finishing his thesis, Felix spent seven months in various agricultural communes and eco-villages in the south of Italy, exploring alternative forms of social and economic organisation and possibilities for frugal, self-sufficient and solidary lifestyles. Currently, Felix is working at Eurac Research in Bolzano (Italy), where his primary research focus lies on processes of societal change and their analysis from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Master 2019; Supervisor: Prof. Clive L. Spash