13 September 2017

2014 YSSPer Lukas Figge

Former YSSPer Lukas Figge will defend his PhD Connectedness in Times of Ecological Overshoot: A quantitative analysis of the sustainability of globalization on 29 September at Maastricht University. Below he describes the importance of this work and the impact IIASA had.

Lukas Figge © Maastricht University

Lukas Figge © Maastricht University

Lukas Figge is a lecturer at the School of Business and Economics of Maastricht University. Prior to that he worked as a PhD researcher at the International Centre for Integrated assessment and Sustainable development (ICIS), where he did his research on the sustainability of globalization. The PhD research was conducted in cooperation with the Global Footprint Network (Oakland, CA) and the Chair of International and Development Politics at Heidelberg University. Lukas attended the YSSP in 2014, and below he shares the importance of his PhD work and the impact of the YSSP.

“I have always been fascinated by the topic of globalization – it is this global mega-trend that in some way or another affects everyone on this planet and most people have a basic understanding and an opinion on it. But it’s so fuzzy and difficult to grasp and remains very contested, which is partially due to the fact that it means many different things to different people. With this thesis, I aim to clearly define what globalization is, make it graspable by measuring it, and thereby make it possible to assess its (statistical) consequences on Ecological Footprints. The work further employs Cultural Theory in order to make sense of the non-sense around the globalization debate by revealing the underlying cultural patterns of relevant policy discourses.

We find 'a world out of balance' based on the emerging qualifications for all four issues of globalization: definition and measurement, recent trends, its consequences and the social robustness of the policy discourse. Hence, we conclude that globalization is not sustainable in its recent form and that it needs to go into new directions if it is to contribute towards all aspects of sustainable development.

Unfortunately, I never managed to complete the YSSP research project as initially planned. However, my time at IIASA in the Advanced Systems Analysis group was still very valuable – just being in this environment was intellectually very stimulating and inspiring. I was able to present and receive feedback on other parts of my thesis. It was also where I got deeper into Cultural Theory and had the privilege to meet Mike Thompson, whose work inspired another chapter of my thesis.

What’s next?

For the moment, I ‘only’ have a teaching position, but in the process of finalizing my thesis, a lot of new research ideas came up on how to advance the measurement of globalization and how to link the work to the SDGs. I am currently looking for new (funding) opportunities and partners to further explore and implement those ideas, so anyone who is interested is welcome to contact me”.

© Lukas Figge

About Lukas Figge

In addition to research, Lukas is passionate about education and (personal) empowerment for sustainable development. He joined rootAbility as a trainer beginning of 2015 to empower students to make universities sustainable with the GreenOffice model. Later that year, rootAbility was awarded the UNESCO-Japan prize on Education for Sustainable Development for its outstanding work. Lukas successfully implemented two editions of the ResponseAbility Training, a 5 day transformative journey for change makers, in 2016 as Erasmus+ projects. In June 2017, he graduated from the Creative Consciousness Academy Master Curriculum and qualified as a Professional Consciousness Coach. As of September 2017, Lukas works as Lecturer at the Department of Organization and Strategy at the Maastricht School of Business and Economics, while further coaching and training PhD candidates and young change makers.

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Last edited: 17 October 2017


Lukas Figge


School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University


Monika Bauer

IIASA Network and Alumni Officer Communications and External Relations Department

Lukas's PhD Thesis

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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