Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Strategies for Social-Ecological Transformation


Contemporary societies face unprecedented ecological, social and economic crises that call for an immediate and radical transformation of the dominant, growth-dependent mode of production and living. Degrowth, as a social movement and a burgeoning academic field of research, has focused on conceptual discussions, concrete utopias and case studies for a social-ecological transformation. What is missing, however, is an in-depth discussion on the strategies to achieve such a transformation.


“Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Strategies for social-ecological transformation” is a four-day conference taking place in Vienna from May 29th until June 1st 2020. The conference will consider the role of strategy for a degrowth transformation and give room for exchanging, reflecting and developing strategies with scholars, practitioners, artists and activists. The conference will complement the International Degrowth Conference in Manchester in September 2020. 

The conference will have a participatory design, including a thorough documentation process to generate tangible outcomes for the degrowth movement and research community.

  • Hosting institutes and organisations (as of September 2019)
  • Degrowth Vienna - Verein zur Förderung der Degrowth-Bewegung
  • Department of Political Science of the University of Vienna
  • Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development of WU Vienna
  • Department for Social Design - Arts as Urban Innovation at the University of Applied Arts Vienna
  • Institute of Social Ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Call for Contributions

The conference consists of two main parts, firstly understanding past and future transformations and the role of strategies and secondly, strategies in practice.

Part I: Transformations and the Role of Strategy

The first main part of the conference seeks to explore transformation processes, theories of change and approaches to strategies (for degrowth). Contributions are welcome that focus on theories or concepts of (social-ecological) transformation, historical analyses of social change, or the role of strategy in transformation processes. The aim is to examine pathways, potentials, obstacles and leverage points for social change, and how strategies are developed to affect these transformations. Questions include, but are not limited to: What are key insights from recent transformation research? How to account for uncertainty and complexity when formulating and evaluating strategies? What are the strategies of the ‘political opponent’, e.g. multinational corporations? What can be learned from successful or unsuccessful actors or ‘change agents’, e.g. social movements?

Part II: Strategies in Practice

The second part of the conference will build on the theoretical and conceptual insights of the previous day, and bring together scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists of various thematic fields to collaboratively discuss and work on strategies towards degrowth in a more concrete manner. Contributions that present concrete strategies in a thematic fields (e.g. mobility, food, energy, etc.) are desired to showcase the diversity of existing strategies for social ecological transformation. The aim is to also critically reflect on these strategies, to better understand obstacles and leverage points in different contexts, and, where possible, to further advance or develop existing strategies.

  • We aim to cover the following sectors and thematic fields in Part II
  • mobility
  • food
  • energy
  • built environment & housing
  • work & production
  • health & care
  • technology & digitalisation
  • finance & money systems
  • diversity & social justice
  • global justice/North-South relations
  • Please indicate your thematic focus in the submission.

Forms of Contributions

We would like to invite scholars, practitioners, activists and artists to submit proposals for one or more of the three different session types (each session lasts 90 minutes): standard sessions, workshop sessions and consecutive sessionsWithin these types, different formats are welcome, and we would like to encourage you to develop the format which fits your purpose best.

Contributing to a Standard Session

Presentations have a frontal design and are limited to 10-15 minutes for each single contribution plus discussion on the topic. In order to advance dialogue, we will structure these sessions according to the received contributions. Each session will contain 3-4 contributions. Possible Formats: Individual paper sessions, poster presentations, short movies, debate with contentious positions, performances, etc.

Requirements for submission: (a) abstract (600-1200 words) and (b) a short description of the contribution (max. 150 words).


Facilitating a Workshop Session

Workshops should have a participative design and last 90 minutes. 

Possible formats: panel discussion, fishbowl, World Café, living libraries, theatrical performances, walking tours, manifestations and flash mobs, collective (mind)-mapping, Pro Action Café (encouraging activities and actions related to a concrete question), appreciative inquiry, etc. 

Requirements for submission: (a) Detailed description of the format and content (600-1200 words) including a short description of materials, space requirements, and max. size of audience; (b) short description of the workshop format and content (150 words).

Hosting Consecutive Sessions

On Sunday, day three of the conference, it is possible to host up-to three consecutive sessions (each session lasts 90 minutes) within a specific thematic field of your choice. Your group or organisation can decide how to use the time and space to bring together various scholars and practitioners of the thematic field, to exchange, discuss and further develop strategies. Your role, as a group or organization, is both  concept development in advance and facilitation of these sessions , with support from the organising team of the conference.

Requirements for submission: (a) Detailed description of the format and purpose of the consecutive session (600-1200 words) including a short presentation of your civil society or scientific organisation, a description of possible formats, indication of possible financial or personnel support for session development, possible contacts and networks, clear objective of strategy development, and a short description of materials, space requirements, and max. size and composition of audience; (b) short description for the audience, format, and purpose of sessions (200 words).

Application Procedure

We look forward to receiving your submission and would be happy if you spread this call widely. You can find the Call for Contributions submission form below, which will be online by November 1st. If you have any questions about this process then please write us directly at 

Please make your submissions before December 1st, 2019. Keep in mind, this conference has a thematic focus on strategies for degrowth, which requires that only submissions closely related to this theme can be accepted. You can find out more details about the conference concerning location, registration, and more at this website.

Submissions will be only possible from 1st of November on