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Luthe T.,University of Applied science Chur | Luthe T.,MonViso Institute
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2017

The complexity of sustainable development and societal transitions require both analytical understandings of how coupled human-environment systems function and transdisciplinary science-to-practice approaches. The academic discourse has advanced in developing a framework for defining success in transdisciplinary research (TDR). Further empirical evidence is needed to validate the proposed concepts with TDR case studies. This paper applies a widely used TDR framework to test and critically evaluate its design principles and criteria of success with five TDR case studies the author is intimately familiar with. Overall, the design principles of the framework are validated for the five cases. Additional design principles are derived from the case analysis and proposed to complement the applied framework: (1) A project origin from society as opposed to with and for society; (2) Quickly available initiation funding; (3) Flexibility in time, objectives and methods throughout the research process; (4) Acceptance of process vs. project results; (5) Inclusion of public science communication; and (6) A demand-driven transition to a prolonged or new project partnership. The complementing principles are proposed for integration in the applied framework and are subject to further empirical testing. The reflexive empirical approach I have taken in this paper offers a key step towards removing institutional barriers for successful TDR, demonstrating how conceptual frameworks can be applied. © 2017 by the authors.


Luthe T.,University of Applied science Chur | Kagi T.,Carbotech AG
Journal of Industrial Ecology | Year: 2013

Many existing methods for sustainable technical product design focus on environmental efficiency while lacking a framework for a holistic, sustainable design approach that includes combined social, technical, economic, and environmental aspects in the whole product life cycle, and that provides guidance on a technical product development level. This research proposes a framework for sustainable technical product design in the case of skis. We developed a ski under the Grown brand, benchmarked according to social, environmental, economic, and technical targets, following an initial sustainability assessment, and delivered the first environmental life cycle assessment (ELCA) and the first social life cycle assessment (SLCA) of skis. The framework applies a virtual development process as a combination of ELCA to calculate the environmental footprint as carbon equivalents of all materials and processes and a technical computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) simulation and virtual optimization using parameter studies for the nearly prototype-free development of the benchmarked skis. The feedback loops between life cycle assessment (LCA) and virtual simulation led to the elimination of highly energy intensive materials, to the pioneering use of basalt fibers in skis, to the optimization of the use of natural materials using protective coatings from natural resins, and to the optimization of the production process. From an environmental perspective, a minimum 32% reduction in carbon equivalent emissions of materials in relation to other comparably performing skis has been achieved, as well as a pioneering step forward toward transparent communication of the environmental performance by the individual, comparable, and first published ski carbon footprint per volume unit. © 2013 by Yale University.


PubMed | University of Oslo, Business School Lausanne, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Vibrant Data Inc. and 3 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

This study integrates quantitative social network analysis (SNA) and qualitative interviews for understanding tourism business links in isolated communities through analysing spatial characteristics. Two case studies are used, the Surselva-Gotthard region in the Swiss Alps and Longyearbyen in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, to test the spatial characteristics of physical proximity, isolation, and smallness for understanding tourism business links. In the larger Surselva-Gotthard region, we found a strong relationship between geographic separation of the three communities on compartmentalization of the collaboration network. A small set of businesses played a central role in steering collaborative decisions for this community, while a group of structurally peripheral actors were less influential. By contrast, the business community in Svalbard showed compartmentalization that was independent of geographic distance between actors. Within towns of similar size and governance scale, Svalbard is more compartmentalized, and those compartments are not driven by geographic separation of the collaboration clusters. This compartmentalization in Svalbard was reflected in a lower density of formal business collaboration ties compared to the communities of the Alps. We infer that the difference is due to Svalbard having higher cultural diversity and population turnover than the Alps communities. We propose that integrating quantitative network analysis from simple surveys with qualitative interviews targeted from the network results is an efficient general approach to identify regionally specific constraints and opportunities for effective governance.


Leutenegger T.,University of Applied science Chur | Studer B.,University of Applied science Chur
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2015

Swissmem, the Swiss association of mechanical and electrical engineering industries, founded a new photonics group in 2013. This reflects the importance of this key technology for Switzerland. Swissmem requested from the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences to introduce a new bachelor program to fulfill the increasing demand of the Swiss industry of young academics in the field of photonics. Optech Consulting is investigating the Swiss photonics market since many years on behalf of Swissphotonics, the Swiss national thematic network for photonics. The study concluded that the total production volume of the Swiss photonics industry in the year 2013 was 3 billion Swiss francs and a slight growth is expected for 2014. The University of Applied Science HTW Chur is located in the Eastern part of Switzerland. This area of the Rhine valley is a technology cluster of innovative companies in the field of optics and electronics. The industry is growing and the R&D departments of the worldwide active companies are lacking well-educated photonics engineers. The HTW Chur is dedicated to establish the first Swiss bachelor in Photonics. Supported by strong industrial players and an excellent network, the HTW Chur developed different job descriptions and a complete curriculum, which reflect the needs of the Swiss photonics industry. Almost 60% of the ECTS of this national degree program are assigned to photonics specific courses and the practical projects are organized in close collaboration with the photonics industry. Curriculum, job descriptions and the industrial needs will be discussed in detail in this paper. © COPYRIGHT SPIE. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.


El Benni N.,University of Applied science Chur | El Benni N.,ETH Zurich | Finger R.,University of Bonn | Meuwissen M.P.M.,Wageningen University
European Review of Agricultural Economics | Year: 2016

We extend the existing literature on the income stabilisation tool (IST) by investigating the influence of farm and farmers' characteristics on potential indemnification applying double-hurdle models on a rich panel data set on Swiss farms. We find more likely and higher indemnifications for part-time and low-income farmers. Thus, the IST might become a new transfer instrument hampering the structural change. Even though the estimated costs of the IST are low compared with the current direct payment level in Switzerland, both policy measures are partly substitutes with respect to income risk reductions implying more frequent and higher indemnification through the IST if direct payments are reduced. © Oxford University Press and Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics 2015.


Becker K.,University of Applied science Chur | Hauser C.,University of Applied science Chur | Kronthaler F.,University of Applied science Chur
Crime, Law and Social Change | Year: 2013

This article analyses the current knowledge about corruption and its legal consequences among university students. Based on data from 1,511 undergraduate and graduate students from all academic disciplines at four major universities in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, it appears that the majority of students have difficulty identifying corrupt behaviour and its legal consequences. Law students achieve slightly better results. However, even law students demonstrate a significant lack of knowledge of corruption issues. In particular, most of the students are unaware that corruption that occurs abroad can also be prosecuted in Switzerland. The limited knowledge among students regarding corruption and its legal consequences as identified in this study suggests that the teaching and study of anti-corruption-related subjects should be better integrated into the curricula of universities and business schools. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Beier M.,University of Applied Science Chur | Wagner K.,University of Applied Science Chur
Proceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences | Year: 2016

Crowdfunding platforms as a new way of financing in the web 2.0 have increased over the last years, but only little is known how users (project initiators and (potential) project backers) behave during a campaign. Using a dataset of 492 projects (including 10'439 donations) published on one of the dominant crowdfunding platforms in Switzerland, we explore the user behavior in crowdfunding. Our results show that the first days of a campaign are crucial. Successful projects generate a significant share of their intended funding goal just in the first days of a campaign. Moreover, the early interaction patterns on the project page initialize social emergent developments like herding effects for the remaining campaign duration. Finally, we show how project initiators can adapt to backer behavior to increase their funding chances. © 2016 IEEE.


Luthe T.,University of Applied science Chur | Wyss R.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich
Sustainability Science | Year: 2015

While ecological resilience is conceptually established, resilience concepts of social–ecological systems (SES) require further development, especially regarding their implementation in society. From the literature, (a) we identify the need for a revised conceptualization of SES resilience to improve its understanding for informing the development of adjusted mental models. (b) We stress the human capacity of social learning, enabling deliberate transformation of SES, for example of SES to higher scales of governance, thereby possibly increasing resilience. (c) We introduce the metaphor of adaptive waves to elucidate the differences between resilience planning and adaptation, by conceptualizing adaptation and transformation as dynamic processes that occur both inadvertently and deliberately in response to both shocks and to gradual changes. In this context, adaptive waves stress the human and social capacity to plan resilience with an intended direction and goal, and to dampen the negative effects of crises while understanding them as opportunities for innovation. (d) We illustrate the adaptive waves’ metaphor with three SES cases from tourism, forestry, and fisheries, where deliberate transformations of the governance structures lead to increased resilience on a higher governance scale. We conclude that conceptual SES resilience communication needs to clarify the role and potential of human and social capital in anticipating change and planning resilience, for example, on different scales of governance. It needs to emphasize the crucial importance of crises for innovation and transformation, relevant for the societal acceptance of crises as drivers of adaptation and transformation. The adaptive waves’ metaphor specifically communicates these aspects and may enhance the societal capacity, understanding, and willingness for planning resilience. © 2015, The Author(s).


Voll F.,University of Applied science Chur | Luthe T.,University of Applied science Chur
Eco.mont | Year: 2014

This paper discusses systemic aspects of protected area research with a particular focus on systemic governance. Protected areas are embedded within a dynamic system of socioeconomic-ecological interactions on various geographical, value-ethical, cultural and political scales. For example, recent energy politics exacerbates existing pressures on land use for renewable energy generation and challenges the goals and objectives of protection categories. The category or classification of a protected area according to the IUCN framework is influenced by the regional political and cultural differentiations, which concern all aspects of protected areas in their social, ecological and economic interactions. The category has an influence on how the local population is affected or benefits from the protection of an area, and what kind of visitors are coming to or engaging with the protected area. The category is also influenced by the acceptance of the local population and visitors or tourists. Protected areas increasingly operate as multifunctionally managed areas where visitors and inhabitants are integrated into the management concept. Category groups have a decisive and inverse influence on visitor management and protected area governance, which itself is steered by political and cultural characteristics. Changing value ethics of visitors affect the governance of protected areas and new partnerships need to be built for their sustainable management. This paper synthesizes such systemic aspects in a mountain context and concludes with an outline for future research.


Luthe T.,University of Applied science Chur | Wyss R.,University of Applied science Chur | Schuckert M.,Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Regional Environmental Change | Year: 2012

Mountain regions and peripheral communities, which often depend on few economic sectors, are among the most exposed and sensitive to climate change. Governance of such socio-economic-ecological networks plays a strong role in determining their resilience. Social processes of governance, such as collaboration between communities, can be systematically assessed through the existence and strength of connections between actors and their embeddedness in the broader socio-economic network by social network analysis (SNA). This paper examines how network governance of the tourism industry-dependent Swiss Gotthard region relates to resilience to climate change by SNA. The paper argues that economic diversification and a network structure supporting stability, flexibility, and innovation increase regional resilience to climate change. The Gotthard network has a high diversification capability due to high cohesion and close collaboration, limited innovative capacity by the existence of only two subgroups, and considerable flexibility through the centralized structure. Main weaknesses are a low density, uneven distribution of power, and a lack of integration of some supply chain sectors into the overall network. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

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