Dr. Ariane König

Research scientist

Discipline(s) Multidisciplinary, general & others / Education & instruction / Sociology & social sciences
Faculté ou Centre Faculté des Sciences Humaines, des Sciences de l'Éducation et des Sciences Sociales​
Department Département Sciences sociales
Adresse postale Campus Kirchberg, Université du Luxembourg
6, rue Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi
L-1359 Luxembourg
Bureau sur le campus D04
Téléphone (+352) 46 66 44 6233
Langues parlées English, French, German, Italian, Luxembourgish, Spanish
Séjours de recherche en Luxembourg, United Kingdom, United States of America

Ariane König is a Research Scientist at the University of Luxembourg, where she and her team are engaged in research projects to facilitate and learn from social processes with experts and stakeholders to address complex sustainability challenges. The research focus is on food and water and land-use systems as tightly coupled social-ecological-technological systems. The work seeks to better understand and inform how developments and transformations within the spheres of society, technology, ecology and the personal sphere are interdependent to inform policies and action for deliberate transformations for a more sustainable society. Much of the research work is in the form of participatory inquiry and develops and implements methods for systems and scenario approaches and citizen science. König also built and coordinates an innovative study programme in “Sustainability and Social Innovation” that is open to students and professionals.  Apart from her membership of the national government advisory gremium Observatoire de la Politique Climatique, König is a member of the European Statistical Advisory Committee and has completed two terms as a member of the national Conseil Supérieur pour un Développement Durable. 

König obtained her Bachelor and Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, Emmanuel College. She also completed a first trimester on European Law and Competition Law of the Master in European Law, Government and Policy at the London School of Economics. She first worked as Regulatory Affairs Manager compiling and presenting environmental and health impact assessments of genetically modified crops for a leading multinational life science corporation.  Thereafter she joined the universities of Harvard and Oxford, where she conducted research and taught post-graduate and executive training courses on governance of new technologies and risk, with a focus on sustainable agricultural food production. She has also worked as an independent scientific consultant for the OECD, the European Commission, and EU research consortia. She has over 50 publications, her most recent book ‘Sustainability Science: Key Issues’ was published by Routledge in 2018.

Motto: Let’s work together for healthy ecosystems, social systems, and lifestyles! 

Download Ariane König's full CV.

Last updated on: vendredi 23 septembre 2022


Field of knowledge and core concepts: Social and transformative learning for sustainability in complex social-ecological-technological systems; with a current focus on the regeneration of renewable resources such as water and fertile top soil. 

Central research question: how to organize transdisciplinary scientific inquiry for better taking into account complexity, contingency, contradictions, uncertainty, ignorance, and open futures, as we shape our intentions and actions on sustainability challenges.

Research approaches and methods:  collaborative conceptual systems mapping, scenario and visioning methods, and the co-design of sustainability indicators, citizen science projects, and living laboratories. 

Experiences drawn upon: Dr König’s transdisciplinary research and teaching benefits from a unique combination of career experiences including as a researcher in the natural and social sciences in academia, as well as working in the private sector, and for intergovernmental organisations.  Her work in the area of governance and risk regulation, technology impact assessment, Science and Technology Studies (STS), epidemiology and (eco-)toxicology, genetic engineering and biochemistry in diverse organisational settings all prove highly salient in her current transdisciplinary research and teaching on sustainability science for transforming human-environment interactions.






Core questions and methods

Human resources

Funded by…




Can we improve understandings and action repertoires on challenges at the water-soil nexus with collaborative conceptual systems mapping, and scenarios approaches?

1 Ph.D.

(4 years),

1 Post doc (5 years)

Ministry for Sustainable Development and the University of Luxembourg




Can citizen science play a role in improving water governance in Luxembourg?

1 Ph.D. (3+1 years)

An Internal Research Project (IRP) grant of the University of Luxembourg set up to foster interdisciplinary and cross-faculty research.




Can scenario and systems approaches be designed in order to foster ‘transdisciplinary’ learning at schools?

1 Ph.D.

(4 years)

Ministry for Education, and the Service for Coordination of Research and Innovation and Technologies (SCRIPT))





Innovative future financial instruments to fund the regeneration of resilient ecosystems that provide fundamental ecosystems services with associated impact assessment schemes (first focus on forests).

1 Research Associate

(1 year)

The European Investment Bank

(STAREBEI scheme)



2020-2021: Project BiosphereInvest, PI: Ariane König. Budget: 54 k Euro.

2017-2022: Project ‘NEXUS FUTURES’, PI: Ariane König.  Budget: 943 k Euro

2017-2021: Project ‘WATGOV’ PI: Ariane König.  Budget: 187 k Euro

2017-2021: Project ‘SCHOOL FUTURES’, PI: Ariane König.  Budget: 200 k Euro

2009-2015: University of Luxembourg: Head of Sustainable development.  Budget: ~75 000 Euro/year.

2012: Fonds National de la Recherche: Public Lecture Series on Sustainable Development’: 3000Euro

2010: Grant by Fonds National de la Recherche for ISCN Symposium in China. Budget: 10 000 Euro.

2005-2007:Part-time independent consultant. Received fees in the order of 15 000 - 20,000 Euro/year.

1998-2000: Monsanto. Head of Scientific Affairs Europe / Africa.  Budget of ~1.4 M USD / year.

1993-1995:  ESRS grant in support of Ph.D.



  • Kristina Hondrila ‘What is actionable knowledge for sustainable water governance?’ started on 15 March 2017 – December 2020. Successful defence on 4.December 2020. Role: Supervisor, PI.
  • Karl Pickar ‘Co-design of a citizen science tool for sustainable water governance and transformative learning‘, started on 1 July 2017- ongoing. Role: Supervisor, PI.
  • Bo Raber ‘Transformative learning from collaborative conceptual systems mapping and futures in schools‘, started on 15 November 2017 – ongoing. Supervisor, PI: Ariane König.
  • Paula Hild ‘Implementation of the circular economy: Challenges for institutions and practices‘, Role: member of the .Committee d’Encadrement de Thèse , Supervisor: Prof. Christian Schulz, Ongoing.
  • Jan Tobias-Doerr .’Learning from 30 years of transition – A reconstruction of the sustainable development of Beckerich and its implication for Luxembourgish rural development’ supervisor Prof. Christian Schulz, My role:  Member of the .Committee d’Encadrement de Thèse and vice president of the jury. Completed in May 2019.
  • Ante Galich ‘The co-production of policy and science in the governance of EU research & innovation policy’’ co-supervisor with Prof. Robert Harmsen- My role: Scientific contact and vice president of the jury.  Completed in February 2015.
  • Franklin Feyeh Bahfon on ‘Greening Local Economies in Luxembourg: Understanding Nature Parks as instruments of Sustainable Regional Development’ co-supervisor with Prof. Christian Schulz. Role : Scientific contact. Completed in May 2015.



  • Tea Sikharulize on ‘Exploring the challenges to participatory water governance: the case of the Upper-Sûre and Syr River Partnerships in Luxembourg’ Masters Thesis prepared as part of the Master in Geography and Spatial Planning at the University of Luxembourg, submitted in July 2018.
  • Simone Kolz on ‘Climate change in the Himalayas: the role of local adaptation plans for action in Nepal’, Masters Thesis prepared as part of the Master in Geography and Spatial Planning at the University of Luxembourg, submitted in September 2016.
  • Samuel Evans on ‘The governance of biotechnology at WTO: a cultural theory framework’, Masters Thesis at the University of Oxford, who was awarded the Dan Gowler Prize for prize for best dissertation in the Management Department of the year at the Saïd Business School.
  • Tutorials for Masters Students at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University accompanying the course on ‘Environmental Science for Policy’. Gave supervisions and tutorials to undergraduates at Cambridge University.

Last updated on: 23 sept 2022

2013-to date: Developed and direct the Certificate in ‘Sustainability and Social Innovation’ at the University of Luxembourg:  An innovative study programme with 2 core courses for 6 ECTS each on ‘Science and Citizens meet Challenges of Sustainability’ and on ‘Social Enterprise and Social Innovation’, 2 auxiliary course, project work, and internship opportunities for transformative learning for sustainability. I developed the course on environmental science for ‘Global Environmental Change in the Anthropocene’ the Master in Geography and Spatial Planning that can also count towards the Certificate.

2014- 2017: Doctoral school seminars: Co-lead and development of the programme for the interdisciplinary strand on sustainability of the IPSE doctoral school. The seminar on ‘The practice of critical interdisciplinarity’ will be offered as transversal skills course at the university cross-faculty level starting in 2020.

2020-todate: Transferable skills doctoral seminar on Science in Society, University of Luxembourg.

2021:  Taught a full course on future-oriented systems thinking at the Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, on invitation by Ass. Prof. Hideki Maruyama.

2018 – to date: Invited teaching at the Université de Namur, Belgium:  Contribution of lectures and workshops to a course on Systems thinking in the Master of Smart Ruralities developed by Prof. Nicolas Dendoncker.

2017 - 2019: Invited teaching at the University of Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan: Invited to co-design and contribute lectures and a workshop to a course in Summer School of Hokkaido University on Sustainable campus development, systems thinking and futures developed by Ass. Prof. Maki Ikegami.

2009-2012: Interdisciplinary cross-faculty courses: Developed and taught the University of Luxembourg’s first interdisciplinary cross-faculty courses (for students and professionals) on ‘Science and citizens meet challenges of sustainability’; and ‘Social enterprise and social innovation’.

2002-2004: Executive training:  Taught in executive training programmes on Competitive Advantage Regulation and the Environment (CARE) offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and on health risk assessment at the Harvard School of Public Health. 

2001-2004: Training at post-graduate-level: Taught in post-graduate courses on environmental science for policy and environmental and health risk assessment at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Oxford University Saïd School of Business, and at Georgetown University.

1992-1995: Training at undergraduate level:  Taught and supervised undergraduate students at the University of Cambridge, Emmanuel College: Taught tutorials and laboratory classes in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Last updated on: 23 sept 2022

July 2021

Invited as external reviewer for the evaluation of the Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie Zentrum Mensch und Technik.

January 2020 & January 2021

Invited expert on the scientific advisory panel of the project ‘Energietransformation im Dialog’ at the Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie, Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse.

June-August 2019

Invited expert committed to review proposals for the FWF Austrian Science Fund for their call “Top Citizen Science 2019”.

January 2018

Appointed Board member of the Société d’Impacte Sociétal (S.I.S.)  ‘Youth and Work’ founded by Mrs Ariane Toepfer for supporting youth who are neither employed nor at school.

January 2017

Appointed Board member of the a.s.b.l. TIIME co-founded by Mrs Hedda Pahlson Moeller for supporting activities to developing social impact investement ecosystem in Luxembourg.

April 2016 &

April 2017

Invited expert to assist in knowledge transfer and evaluation activities for the initiative ‘Real Labore in Baden-Württemberg’

January 2016 to date

Appointed member of the European Statistical Advisory Committee (ESAC) of the European Statistical System to serve as expert on sustainability, environment and agriculture.

January 2013 – to date

Member of the Luxembourg ‘Conseil Supérieur pour un Développement Durable’. Co-lead of the project ‘Scenarios for education in Luxembourg in the face of 21st century sustainability challenges’. Lead of the working groups to evaluate the national action plan on climate change, and development of a knowledge platform for sustainability initiatives for Luxembourg (ongoing)

April 2016

April 2015

April 2014

Invited expert to evaluate and provide feedback on the sustainability report developed in accordance with guidance of the Global Reporting Initiative by the Luxembourg national enterprise POST.  Over three consecutive years.

April 2009 – December 2016

Chair of a Working Group of the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), and lead-author of ISCN Charter committing signatories to regular reporting. Over 50 Universities signed.

April 2012 –December 2015

Appointed Member of the national ‘Groupe de Réflexion : Indicateurs Développement Durable du Ministère pour le Développement Durable et Infrastructures’

September 2012 & September 2013

Jury member of the national competition 123 Go Social awarding business plans for social enterprise.

January 2012 – May 2013

Expert for the OECD-LEED study on Indicators for Local Green Growth Transition in Alzette-Belval – a cross-border study.

March-May 2011

Invited international expert for a campus planning project for the regional government of Canton Zürich, Zentrale Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaft, and Baseler & Partner. 

October 2005

Expert for the evaluation of FP6 SME cooperative research proposals in health and biomedicine.

January 2000-December 2002

Expert on a panel for evaluation of biosafety research for German Federal Ministry for Research and Education.

May 2001- January 2002

As expert consultant to OECD I developed a research report on public participation in activities on biosafety under the auspices of intergovernmental organizations including the OECD selected organisations of the United Nations.

January – September 2000

Expert advisor to the European Commission Forward Studies Unit contributing background paper on democratising expertise and a presentation towards the ‘White Paper on Governance’.


Selected as expert to formally represent the Life Sciences Industry as the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) representative at OECD meetings of the Novel Foods Task Force.

Last updated on: 23 sept 2022

Edited Volumes



König, A. (2018). Ed. Sustainability Science: Key Issues. Earthscan: Routledge. (Promotional flyer –click here).

Sustainability Science: Key Issues is a comprehensive textbook for undergraduates, postgraduates, and participants in executive trainings from any disciplinary background studying the theory and practice of sustainability science. Each chapter takes a critical and reflective stance on a key issue or method of sustainability science. Contributing authors offer perspectives from diverse disciplines, including physics, philosophy of science, agronomy, geography, and the learning sciences. [more]







König, A. (2013). Ed. The Regenerative sustainable development of universities and cities: the role of living laboratories. Edward Elgar. (Promotional flyer – click here)

Now that the Earth has reached the limits of its biophysical carrying capacity, we have to change technologies, social practices and social norms relating to material production and consumption to ensure that we do not further jeopardize the functioning of our planet’s life support systems. Through research, education and civic engagement, universities have a pivotal role to play in this transition. This timely book explores how universities are establishing living laboratories for sustainable development, and examines the communication networks and knowledge infrastructures that underpin impact both on and beyond the campus. [more]


Special Issues

Van Poeck, K., Wals, A. E.J. and König, A. (2018). Guest Editors. Environmental and Sustainability Education in the Benelux Region. Environmental Education Research, Special Issue. In press.

König, A., Budwig, N. (2015). Special issue on ‘Changing requisites to universities in the face of complex challenges of global environmental change’ developed and accepted by the Journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, (IF = 3,1).

Last updated on: 23 sept 2022