University of Basel
Vesalgasse 1
CH-4051 Basel




Ute-Simone Spitzer
Phone:   +41 61 207 04 00
Fax:      +41 61 207 04 09

The Man-Society-Environment Programme

encompasses various aspects of the sustainable management of resources. One facet includes projects on the protection and the sustainable use of water and aquatic ecosystems. Additionally, considerable research is being undertaken in the field of fish and other aquatic organisms. Another facet of the programme focuses on the topics of consumption and energy. Interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary approaches characterise our research and teaching.

The Man-Society-Environment programme heads the transfaculty “Sustainable Development” programme and is in charge of the natural sciences courses for the Master's degree in Sustainable Development at the University of Basel.


"Microplastics" - small plastic particles (< 5 mm) - can be found nowadays in almost all rivers, lakes and oceans. They are either an intermediate product of plastic manufacturing, are used as granulates in cleaning and personal care products, or they arise from the decomposition of larger plastic particles in the environment. We are examining the origin and spreading of microplastics in domestic rivers as well as studying the effects on local fauna.

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The Goby Project

Invasive Ponto-Caspian gobies are spreading in the Rhine.

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Discovering the cold

Discovering the cold: Are Antarctic fish capable of coping with anthropogenic chemicals?

The Antarctic Ocean is thermally isolated from the world’s other oceans by the Antarctic Polar Front, which has allowed the formation of a very stable ecosystem over several millions of years. Antarctic fish are highly adapted to this extremely cold environment of the Antarctic Ocean. It is known that chemical contamination of the Antarctic environment, in particular contamination by persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is increasing, and that Antarctic fish are accumulating xenobiotics in their tissues. It is unknown so far whether Antarctic fish are able to metabolize the xenobiotics or if the accumulation of these chemicals potentially induces toxic processes.  Gaining a deeper insight into this is of high scientific and societal relevance, especially under the circumstances of globalisation and climate change.

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Towards a sustainable use of hydropower

Integrating an interdisciplinary approach, FoNEW and MGU investigate the water levels of artificial reservoirs used for hydropower.

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Inter- and transdisciplinary processes in research and teaching

To embark in collaboration across academic fields and sometimes beyond the academic system is quite often rewarding in dealing with complex questions. In our research we inquire how this collaboration can be facilitated and assessed, which challenges have to be faced and how the development of the necessary competencies can be supported. Most of our research projects devoted to the issues of sustainable consumption and education for sustainable development are themselves inter- or transdisciplinary and thus provide our own background of experience in inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research.