Prof. Dr. Robert Lepenies

Professor of Pluralist & Heterodox Economics

At the university since

  • October 2021



Focus on teaching

  • Heterodox and Pluralist Economics
  • Sustainability Science
  • Environmental Policy
  • Methodology and Empirical Social Science Research
  • Philosophy and Ethics of Economics
  • International Political Economy


  • Pluralist Economics
  • Sustainable Development
  • Introduction to Political Science
  • Introduction to Scientific Methods
  • Globalization Studies
  • Alternative SocioEconomic Organizations
  • Environmental Policy
  • Globalization From Below
  • Behavioral Economics

Research interests and fields

Robert Lepenies is happy to supervise BA, MA and PhD theses in the following areas:

  • Policy & Governance
  • Environmental Policy
  • Philosophy of Economics
  • Political Philosophy
  • Sustainability Studies

Academic training and further education

  • Dr. rer. pol. in Political Science (Governance), Hertie School of Governance Berlin (Thyssen Scholarship)
  • MSc in International Political Economy (Distinction), London School of Economics, Great Britain
  • BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, University of Oxford, The Queen’s College, Great Britain
  • Fulbright-Schuman Scholar, Global Justice Program, Yale University, USA
  • Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellowship, Law Department, European University Institute, Italy (two years)
  • ASK Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Global Constitutionalism, Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Practical Philosophy Department, Freie Universität Berlin (DAAD recovery scholarship)
  • Visiting PhD Fellow, Social and Political Sciences Department, European University Institute, Italy

Practical experience

  • Research Scientist, Department of Environmental Politics, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, Leipzig
  • Lecturer and Guest lecturer positions:
    • Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences (Politics)
    • Hertie School of Governance, Berlin (International Economic Thought; Governance)
    • Free University of Berlin (Practical Philosophy)
    • London School of Economics (Visiting Teaching Certificate)

Current education and research projects

  • Ethics and Expertise in Times of Crisis with Jessica Pykett (Birmingham) & Holger Straßheim (Bielefeld)
  • Water Quality Governance and the politics of chemical pollution with Frank Hüesker (Leipzig)
  • Behavioral Public Policy and Nudging with Magdalena Malecka (Princeton) and others
  • Sustainable Development Goals: The Politics of Indicators with Kurt Jax, Ilona Bärlund (Leipzig), Eeva Furman, Jari Lyytimäki, Eeva Primmer, Jyri Mustajoki (Helsinki), Nicolas Eckert, Raoul Mille (Paris) and others
  • Citizen Science & Air Pollution with Lisa Herzog (Groningen), Ibrahim Sidi Zakari (Niamey)
  • Several ongoing projects with Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) Leipzig and Global Young Academy

Further information

  • Elected from 2016 – 2021 to the Global Young Academy for ‘Scientific Excellence and Service’ as one of 200 young scholars world-wide. Elected to the Executive Committee in 2019 and 2020.
  • Selected to the International Science Council “The public value of science” council
  • Full Member of the International Science for Poverty Eradication Committee of Interacademy Partnership, since 2017
  • Recipient of the 2015 WIWA “Young Talent Award for Plural Economics”
  • Successful H2020 Grant NEXOGENESIS for AI-aided policies for the water-energy-food-ecosystem (WEFE) nexus (Governance Co-lead, declined)

Publications (selection)

Peer-reviewed journal articles (selection)

  • Science under pressure: how research is being challenged by the 2030 Agenda
  • Herzog, L. and Lepenies, R., 2022. Citizen Science in Deliberative Systems: Participation, Epistemic Injustice, and Civic Empowerment. Minerva, pp.1-20.
  • Hüesker, F. and Lepenies, R., 2022. Why does pesticide pollution in water persist? Environmental Science & Policy, 128, pp.185-193.
  • Lehmann, P., de Brito, M.M., Gawel, E., Groß, M., Haase, A., Lepenies, R., Otto, D., Schiller, J., Strunz, S. and Thrän, D., 2021. Making the COVID-19 crisis a real opportunity for environmental sustainability. Sustainability Science, pp.1-9.
  • Lehmann, P., Beck, S., de Brito, M.M., Gawel, E., Groß, M., Haase, A., Lepenies, R., Otto, D., Schiller, J., Strunz, S. and Thrän, D., 2021. Environmental Sustainability Post-COVID-19: Scrutinizing Popular Hypotheses from a Social Science Perspective. Sustainability, 13(16), p.8679.
  • Lepenies, R. and Zakari, I.S., 2021. Citizen Science for Transformative Air Quality Policy in Germany and Niger. Sustainability, 13(7), 3973, 1-21.
  • Lyytimäki, J., Salo, H., Lepenies, R., Büttner, L., and Mustajoki, J., 2020. Risks of producing and using indicators of sustainable development goals. Sustainable Development, 1-11.
  • Zingraff-Hamed, A., Schröter, B., Schaub, S., Lepenies, R., Stein, U., Hüesker, F., Meyer, C., Schleyer, C., Schmeier, S. and Pusch, M.T., 2020. Perception of Bottlenecks in the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive. Water Alternatives, 13, 458-483.
  • Hendlin, Y.H., Arcuri, A., Lepenies, R., and Hüesker, F., 2020. The Politics of (Not) Assessing Glyphosate Concentrations in Aquatic Ecosystems. European Journal of Risk Regulation 11, no. 3: 539-64.
  • Lepenies, R., Hüesker, F., Beck, S. and Brugnach, M., 2018. Discovering the political implications of coproduction in water governance. Water, 10 (10), 1475. 1-16.
  • Lepenies, R., Mackay, K. and Quigley, M., 2018. Three challenges for behavioral science and policy: the empirical, the normative and the political. Behavioral Public Policy, 2(2), pp.174-182.
  • Lepenies, R., and Małecka, M., 2015. The Institutional Consequences of Nudging – Nudges, Politics, and the Law. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6, no. 3: 427-37.

Peer-reviewed book chapters (selection)

  • Hahn, H. and Lepenies, R., 2017. Wissenschaft als politischer Beruf: Die Sustainable Development Goals als realistische Utopie. In Globale politische Ziele, edited by Lepenies P. & Sondermann E., 169–94. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co KG.
  • Lepenies, R., and Małecka, M., 2019. Behavior Change: Extralegal, Apolitical, Scientistic? In Handbook of Behavioral Change and Public Policy, edited by Straßheim, H. & Beck, S., 344-60, Edward Elgar.
  • Malecka, M. and Lepenies, R., 2018 Is the Behavioral Approach a Form of Scientific Imperialism?: An Analysis of Law and Policy. Scientific Imperialism Exploring the Boundaries of Interdisciplinarity, edited by Uskali Mäki, Adrian Walsh, Manuela Fernández Pinto. Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society. pp. 254-273.
  • Kersting, F., Lepenies, R. and Neef, T., 2019. Mehr als nur Werkzeuge. In Perspektiven einer pluralen Ökonomik (pp. 209-229). Springer VS, Wiesbaden.
  • Lepenies, R., and Małecka, M., 2019 “The Ethics of Behavioral Public Policy”. In The Routledge Handbook of Ethics and Public Policy, edited by Lever, A. and Poama,A., 513-25. Routledge.


  • Beck, V., Hahn, H., and Lepenies, R., Eds. 2020. Dimensions of Poverty: Measurement, Epistemic Injustices, Activism. Philosophy and Poverty. Springer International Publishing. 441 pages. (reviewed in Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics; Review of Income & Wealth; Studies of Transition States and Societies)