Birthe Frenzel

Doktorandin im Rahmen des Promotionsschwerpunkts "Dimensionen der Sorge"

Arbeitsbereich Praktische Philosophie

Baderstr. 6-7 - 1. Etage - Zimmer-Nr.: 1.08
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 3834 420 3468
Fax: +49 3834 420 3451



I finished my bachelor’s degree (B.Sc.) with the main subjects: German language and literature studies and geography at the University of Vechta in 2010. My bachelor theses deals with the Federal (Länder-)programme "Social Integrative City" and combines aspects of urban development and aspects of social affirmative action.

In 2014, I finished my master’s studies (M.Sc.) of Sustainability Geography and Regional Development at the University of Greifswald. My master thesis deals with a new relation to nutrition by implementing sufficiency ("Ein neues Verhältnis zur Ernährung durch die Umsetzung von Suffizienz"). In my thesis I analyse the function and the potential of food cooperatives (FoodCoops) in their role as a social space in which the idea of sufficiency and an economy without growth can evolve. 

During and after my studies, I worked for the environmental and human rights organisation urgewald. I was focusing on divestment-campaigns dealing with the issue of coal mining and the related effects on human beings and the natural environment.

Between 2014 and 2016, I worked as a research assistant (supporting the project "Schatz an der Küste") and as a research fellow (working in the project COMTESS) at the Chair of Sustainability Science and Applied Geography. 

PhD Project

Nudging in the name of environmental care? 
An ethical reflection on the gentle push to bridge the gap between knowledge and action

Nudging im Namen der Umweltsorge?
Eine ethische Reflexion auf den Schubs über die Kluft zwischen Wissen und Handeln

In the light of the current debate about climate change and the planetary boundaries, the concern for the environment has become more present in the general public. Nevertheless, even for people with a high level of environmental knowledge it does not seem to be easy to bridge the gap between environmental awareness and action. 

In 2008 Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein proposed the nudge theory, an approach based on insights from behavioral economics. The idea of a nudge is to encourage the people to make the “right” choices without limiting their decision-making independence, using the knowledge of human behavior. With regard to the gap between environmental awareness and action, the question arises whether the nudging strategy could provide a solution to bridge this gap. Does it even promote the integrity of the individual, living with values and convictions that are consistent with their personal lifestyle? How free are we really, when we are being nudged towards our personal welfare with strategies from behavioral science? 

The main research question of my dissertation is therefore: Is “Nudging” in the context of environmental care, concern and precaution an ethical legitimate strategy to bridge the gap between knowledge/ awareness and action?