karen kastenhofer

Dr. Karen Kastenhofer (b. 1974) is currently working as a lecturer at the Institute of Anthropology, the Institute of Ecology and Conservation Biology at the University of Vienna, Austria, and holds a research position at the Wissenschaftszentrum Umwelt, University of Augsburg. She is trained in biology, human ecology and social studies of science. Her diploma thesis discusses the scientific status of (bio)ecology. Her PhD thesis concentrates on the scientific culture of biology as compared to other disciplinary cultures. Her practical skills cover vegetation ecology, interdisciplinary studies in human ecology and social and cultural studies of science. During her academic career, she attended the Human Ecology Programme at the Free University of Brussels (Belgium). Between 2000 and 2001, she participated in an interdisciplinary research project on “Science as Culture” as a research assistant at the IFF. She has participated in the design and implementation of an interdisciplinary curriculum for graduate students (Studium Integrale) funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture and the City of Vienna from 2002 to 2004.

Research projects within the field of Human Ecology focus on sustainability conflicts and the implementation of sustainable development in areas such as science-society-interfaces and sustainable technology transfers. Karen Kastenhofer participated in a national research project dealing with the conflicts and opportunities related to the implementation of energy efficiency in Austria, on behalf of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, between 2001 and 2002.

Both, the social and cultural studies of science, as well as sustainability research are now being integrated within the project “Cultures of Non-Knowledge”, examining precautionary politics under conditions of restricted knowledge.

areas of interest

Sustainable development, bioecology, cultural studies, cultural studies of science and society

selected references

Kastenhofer, K., Diploma thesis, 1999: Ecology as a science: A multidisciplinary approach to compare actual practice and theoretical definition / Ökologie als Wissenschaft: eine multidisziplinäre Spurensuche am Biozentrum Wien; Diplomarbeiten von Studierenden der Ökologie als praktische Umsetzung ökologischen Wissenschaftsverständnisses im Vergleich mit theoretischen Definitionen ökologischer Wissenschaft in der Literatur, Univ. of Vienna, 210pp.

Kastenhofer, K., Wilfing, H., 2000: Biology as a science facing new technological possibilities / Die Lebenswissenschaft Biologie im Spannungsfeld neuer Machbarkeiten, in: Arnold, M. / Fischer, R. (eds.): Studium Integrale, Vienna, p.83-88.

Albert, R., Weish, P., Aiginger, E., Egger-Steiner, M., Hahn, Ch., Kastenhofer, K., Kuffner, A., Rammel, Ch., Staudinger, M., 2001: Science and sustainability / Wissenschaft und Nachhaltigkeit, publication series of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management (BMLFUW), Vol. 24/2001, Vienna, 149pp.

Kastenhofer, K. 2002: Science, scientific education and sustainable development / Wissenschaft, wie hältst du’s mit Nachhaltiger Entwicklung? Eine Gretchenfrage, in: Kurswechsel 4/2002, Vienna, p.63-74.

Kastenhofer, K., Omann, I., Stagl, S., Steininger, K., 2003: Science Policy for Transdisciplinary Research, in: Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), developed under the auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK, 23pp.

Kastenhofer, K. 2004: Reflexivity, culture and biology / Reflexivität in der Biologie, in: Markus Arnold / Gert Dressel (eds.): Learned cultures - experimental cultures – scientific cultures / Gelehrtenkulturen - Experimentalkulturen – Wissenschaftskulturen, p.137-149, Wien, Turia + Kant Verlag

Kastenhofer, K. 2004: Learning how to see and how to make visible. University education and scientific practice in biology / Sehen lernen und sichtbar machen. Lehrkultur und Wissenschaftspraxis der Biologie, in: Markus Arnold / Roland Fischer (eds.): Disciplines and discipline: a comparison of scientific cultures / Disziplinierungen: Kulturen der Wissenschaft im Vergleich, p. 91-126, Wien, Turia + Kant Verlag

Kastenhofer, K. 2005: Biologie im Kontext: Sozialisation Biologiestudierender in Hinblick auf Wissenschaftsverständnis, Praktiken und Normen in der Biologie, PhD-thesis, Univ. Wien

Kastenhofer, K., Rammel, Ch. 2005: Obstacles to and potentials of the societal implementation of sustainable development: a comparative analysis of two case studies, in: Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, 1(2):5-13. (Published online June 15, 2005, link:

Ina Rust, I., Kastenhofer, K. 2005: Orientierung im Nebel. Kulturen des Nichtwissens, in: politische Ökologie 95(2005):50-52 (link: Nichtwissenskultur_Artikel_Orientierung_im_Nebel.pdf)


Institute for Anthropology

Last modified 12 Dezember, 2005 -