Dr Richard Bärnthaler

Dr Richard Bärnthaler


I am Lecturer in Ecological Economics at the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds and board member at the European Society for Ecological Economics. In my research, I view economics as the science of social provisioning – the spatiotemporal study of how societies organise their livelihoods, especially in the context of reinforcing dynamics of social inequalities and planetary overshoot. This approach not only highlights how societies shape society-nature relations through provisioning systems but also emphasises that the provision of goods and services is a context-specific and collectively organised social and political process, rather than one of isolated rational decision-making and optimisation. Against this pre-analytic background, my research interests focus on 1) sufficiency as a social organising principle, including means to realise it such as consumption and production corridors; 2) eco-social policies and associated potentials for new societal alliances; 3) the political economy of climate change in the current conjuncture, including geopolitical ruptures, the securitisation of energy politics, and power complexes that stabilise the status quo and delay climate action.

Before joining SRI in December 2023, I was University Assistant at the Vienna University of Economics, Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development. I am a member of the Economics and Policy for Sustainability and Social and Political Dimensions of Sustainability interdisciplinary research groups at SRI. Beyond the University of Leeds, I am a member of the Foundational Economy Collective, academic adviser to the Competence Centre for Infrastructural Economics, Public Services and Social Provisioning, and Affiliate at the Vienna University of Economics, Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development. Among others, I also hold memberships at the Society of Ecological Economics, the ECPR Standing Group on Environmental Politics, the Council for European Studies (Political Economy and Welfare; Environmental), the Association for Socio-Economic Education and Research, and the International Karl Polanyi Society. I have also been Lead Author in the APCC Special Report on “Structures for Climate-Friendly Living” as well as in the APCC Assessment Report on “Climate Change in Austria 2.0”.

Research interests

social-ecological economics; political economy; sufficiency; human needs; sustainable wellbeing; social provisioning; inequality & eco-social justice; eco-social policy; post-/degrowth; transformation

Research projects

Current research projects

For completed research projects granted before December 2023, please see:

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Economics and Social Sciences, Social-Ecological Economics
  • MSc, Social-Ecological Economics and Policy
  • MA, History and Philosophy of Science

Student education

I manage and partly deliver the Postgraduate Module SOEE5095 Environmental Economics and Policy (in: Ecological Economics MSc).

Current PhD students

  • Tobias Riepl, Accessibility of foundational infrastructures: probing the conditions for urban social-ecological transformations in Vienna (2023, with Anke Schaffartzik, Felix Butzlaff, Justin Kadi)

Areas for PhD supervision

I welcome queries on doctoral dissertation projects on topics such as:

  • Sufficiency economy
  • Eco-social policies
  • Sustainable wellbeing and human needs
  • Social provisioning, social-ecological infrastructures, foundational economy, universal basic services, social-ecological transformation of housing
  • Political economy of climate change
  • Inequality and eco-social justice

Research groups and institutes

  • Economics and Policy for Sustainability
  • Social and Political Dimensions of Sustainability
  • Sustainability Research Institute
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>