Modul University Vienna invites international scholars to share their expertise and present latest research. On 20 March, IIASA Principal Research Scholar, Brian Fath will present on "Human carrying capacity constraints and lessons from systems ecology". 


Decades of research and discussion have shown that an increase in human population and our consumption of natural resources cannot continue – there are limits to growth. Developments in systems ecology have discovered basic ecological principles that demonstrate how living systems are able to continue to increase in complexity, diversity, and information, in light of their given biophysical constraints. One goal is to learn from these insights to modify and revise our economic systems using nature as a model – a form of holistic ecomimcry. This presentation draws on systems ecology, network analysis, and recent projections of human world population to give hope about changes that may lead to win–win situations. In other words, we can learn from nature how to develop a society that can flourish within the limits to growth with better conditions for prosperity and well-being.


Brian D. Fath is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Towson University (Maryland, USA) teaching courses on Ecosystem Ecology, Environmental Science, and Human Ecology.  He is also a Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Laxenburg, Austria) and since 2011, the Scientific Coordinator of IIASA’ s Young Scientists Summer Program.  He has published over 200 research papers, reports, and book chapters on environmental systems modeling, specifically in the areas of network analysis, urban metabolism, and sustainability. He co-authored, among others, the books A New Ecology: Systems Perspective (2020), Foundations for Sustainability: A Coherent Framework of Life–Environment Relations (2019), and Flourishing within Limits to Growth: Following Nature’s Way (2015).  He served as Editor for 6-volume Environmental Management Handbook (2020) and 4-volume Encyclopedia of Ecology (2019).

Dr. Fath is also Editor-in-Chief for the journals Current Research in Environmental Sustainability and Frontiers in Sustainable Resource Management.  He was the 2016 recipient of the Prigogine Medal for outstanding work in systems ecology; twice a Fulbright Distinguished Chair (Parthenope University, Naples, Italy, in 2012 and Masaryk University, Czech Republic, in 2019) and twice University System of Maryland Regents awardee for outstanding scholarship.

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