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Rubrik: News

A new institute at ETH
Science helps in making environmental decisions

Published: 13.07.2006 06:00
Modified: 12.07.2006 21:17

(per / pd) There has been a new institute at ETH Zurich since 1.7.2006: the Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED) (1) . Its aim is to carry out research on individual and collective decisions taken in relation to the utilisation of natural resources and the environment. Not least, the new institute’s researchers want to support private and public decision-makers when making decisions with a lasting effect, for example in the climate field, in spite of considerable uncertainties. Renate Schubert, ETH Professor for National Economics, has been appointed head of the Institute.

Formally the IED belongs to the Department of Environmental Sciences. Its members are various professors from the Departments of Humanities, Social and Poltical Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Agriculture & Food Sciences. Its core group comprises three economists, one political scientist and one psychologist. The plan is to augment the Institute in the coming months with additional researchers interested in decision interrelations. The Institute for Human-Environment Systems (HES) together with the Institute of Agricultural Economics (IAW) will be transferred into the IED in early 2007. The IED will also be engaged in teaching and advanced training.

The idea of founding an Institute for Environmental Decisions at ETH Zurich was inspired by the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University (2) as well as by the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at the Carnegie Mellon University (3) . For example the Institute’s initial concrete projects relate to environmental refugees and an appropriate migration policy, to payments for environmental achievements in industrialised and developing countries, to decision-making processes in agricultural utilisation, to the relationship between climate variability and/or climate change and the willingness to enter into violent conflicts, or to the significance of fuel consumption in automobile purchase. A series of events on the topic of environmental decisions is planned to begin in the Winter semester of 2006/2007.

(1 Web site of the Institute: (
(2 Web site of the CRED: (
(3 Web site of the Center: (

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