1. Ecological Macroeconomics & Postgrowth Futures (promotor: Brent Bleys) 

The current macroeconomic frameworks and modelling tools are ill-equipped to face the complex and interconnected problems we are facing today: financial instability, income and wealth inequalities and the growing ecological impacts of our economic activities. Ecological macroeconomics, a field that recently emerged within ecological and degrowth economics, aims to overcome the problems within orthodox macroeconomics by combining three main spheres: the real economy, the financial economy and the environmental impacts and resource requirements of economic activities. Within this literature the combination of environmentally-extended input- output analysis and system dynamic stock-flow consistent modelling stands out as a promising avenue. These kind of models allow researchers to explore the impact of post-growth policy recommendations (e.g. reduced working hours and a "greening" of production) on key economic variables.


2. Pro-environmental Behavior (promotor: Brent Bleys) 

In the past, the literature on pro-environemental behavior has mostly looked at recycling (household waste) and measures that increase energy efficiency (adopting technological advances in household appliances), yet these types of behaviors only have a limited environmental impact compared to other choices (dietary choices, travel behavior, …). More research is needed in these latter areas, but in terms of understanding the main drivers of these choices (e.g. through a behavioral / behavior change model) and their interconnections with other important variables at the individual level, such as subjective well-being. One can also explore the determinants of the ecological footprint (EF) at the individual level, a measure that sums environmental impacts over the different activities that an individual undertakes. The EF literature mostly focuses on the country level, yet data can also be collected through surveys using an EF calculator.


3. Beyond GDP indicators (promotor: Brent Bleys) 

Ecological economists have been questioning the pursuit of economic growth ever since Boulding and Georgescu-Roegen introduced the laws of thermodynamics into economic theory. They argue that continuous economic growth on a finite planet is impossible and that economists should envision a steady-state economy that is in balance with its natural environment. These ideas have led to research into the optimal physical scale for the economy – the scale where the difference between the benefits of economic activities (e.g. consumption) and the costs of these activities (e.g. environmental degradation, natural capital depletion and defensive expenditures) is maximized. Economic growth beyond the optimal physical scale is referred to as “uneconomic” (Herman Daly) in the sense that the social and environmental costs outweigh the benefits derived from the additional production. Alternative measures of economic welfare such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare and the Genuine Progress Indicator have been put forward to inquire into the optimal physical scale of economies. Research adding to this field can either be theoretical, methodological or empirical. Of particular interest is the research question as to what extent different (traditional) pro-economic growth policies are also beneficial for economic welfare.


4. Ecological and Degrowth Economics (promotor: Brent Bleys) 

Other topics within the fields of ecological economics or degrowth economics can also be explored. Examples include: degrowth and businesses, sufficiency or the "economics of enough", ...