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Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Master in

Eco-Social Design

The 2-year practice-oriented and transdisciplinary study course is an educational framework for designers that aim to contribute to more sustainable, resilient, solidary and just futures — both locally and trans-locally.

Course description

From the project "Pioniere" by Giulia Bencini & Insa Keilbach

Eco-Social Design is not only about more eco-efficient products and services but is striving for future-viable modes of production, consumption and life – for sustainable economies and cultures. Based on these general aims and values the design of products, spaces, processes, interactive applications and transmedia communication is understood as an integrated task. Design as a catalyst of desirable and necessary change.

With your projects, you try to approach today's issues effectively by (co-)designing concrete future-viable practices today and visions for tomorrow. You are encouraged to experiment with existing and emerging practices of collaboration and co-creation. The overarching goal is to encourage a good life for all! – humans, other living beings all over the planet now and in the future. Additionally, to this web page, you can get more insights by this presentation (PDF) and on our blog.

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Early bird application until 28 April

Study courses in Italy, including this Masters, start in October, so do not be deterred from applying because of the current coronavirus prevention measures. Please don’t hesitate to apply, and please help spread this message. We believe the coronavirus crisis makes it clear that design for social-ecological transformation is needed more than ever. Persons with all kinds of backgrounds can apply. A Bachelor degree in design is not required (only 10 ECTS in related fields). The diversity of students is enriching. Note: persons from non-EU countries can only apply in the early bird period. While in the later application period, ending 9 July 2020, only EU citizens can apply (for more information on the application procedure please scroll down).

By Design or by Disaster Conference

We have postponed our annual By Design or by Disaster Conference to 1–4 October 2020. Additionally, we are organising the Beyond Crisis Conference, 17-18 April 2020, tackling the question: How to use the virus-induced situation to build up momentum for social-ecological transformation? Registration is open until 5 April.

Holistic thinking as a basis for effective design

From the project "Malszeit" by Johanna Perret & Lena Rieger

You will learn how to use instruments of diverse design practices and research combined with perspectives and competencies derived from social sciences and economics, and from sectors such as business, activism, technology and craft. This equips you to develop your ways to approach complex issues with reflection, creativity and pragmatism.

You have the possibility to set your personal focus, by choosing what to deepen within the rich set of design disciplines and sciences offered in the study program.


From the project "Hemphasis" by Stefania Zanetti & Andreas Sebastianelli

At a glance

Degree class: LM-12
ECTS credits: 120
Duration of the course: 2 years
Courses will be taught in: English
Places available: 31 EU + 8 non-EU
Campus: Bozen-Bolzano
Tuition fees: €1,348.50 per year

The Study Offer as an Arena

During the first semester, you do a project starting off from a given local and provincial context.  The aim is to create a shared basis for team/group work preparing you for more complex projects, to stimulate inspiration, and to facilitate your landing in unibz and the environs of Bozen-Bolzano. It is also an opportunity to meet the diverse network of students, teachers and external partners.

In the second semester, you develop an autonomous project, in teams or individually, together with external partners you choose. Throughout the course of studies, you will select courses from the areas 'Observe, Analyse & Apply' and 'Make & Intervene'. The former provide you with theoretical foundations, critical thinking and methods from the social and economic sciences. Through the latter, you will learn how to use tools and techniques for your creative work as a designer. Experienced designers, with various specializations, will support you with the development of your project along two lines: object-space-services and communication-interaction-services. The course in Design Research supports your project development and teaches basic approaches and methods of the field. All other courses you choose can contribute to the development of your project, too. If you want to extend your study plan further, you can choose courses from other faculties.

Das dritte Semester

In the third semester, you carry out research through design and creative experimentation on a topic of your choice that acts as a foundation for your final thesis project. The integrated course in Design Research will be particularly helpful in this semester. This development process is accompanied by the 'Master Colloquia', during which you discuss your work-in-progress with teachers and with experts from outside the university.

In the fourth and last semester, you will focus on your final project including a comprehensive written thesis.


In the fourth and last semester, you will focus on your thesis project and the written thesis that goes along with it.

Laura Heym

Freelance designer, researcher and blogger, Vienna/Berlin

“Studying at unibz in the Master Eco-Social Design with its rich facilities helped me find my personal way of working as a non-conventional designer while giving me two great years. I enjoyed spending time in the marvellous mountains around Bozen-Bolzano with my co-students and friends and loved the intimate atmosphere in this small university and city. I really appreciated the diversity of languages and the wide range of learning opportunities in and out of university. After completing my master studies in Eco-Social Design I moved to Vienna where I now work as a freelancer for several projects in the field of eco-social design, among them neuland21, a Berlin-based association for which I remotely work as a graphic designer, researcher and blogger. I enjoy my work there since through design I can help finding new ways to enhance quality of life and societal participation in the countryside. At the same time I am putting forth an effort to develop a little business out of my master thesis project "Zukunft Hinterland", a participatory and interactive audio-guide that promotes future-oriented initiatives in rural areas and therefore a positive image of the countryside.”

Facilities and study environment

The spacious and sunny ateliers are open spaces for creative development and collaboration. Here you work in teams on your projects, in constant exchange with other students and the teachers. Supervision and constant consultation with experts and stakeholders is a crucial part of this study programme.

The Workshops

Our superbly equipped workshops offer a wide range of technologies for your design work, such as workshops for wood, metal, plastic, materials, digital modelling, plaster and mold making, surface treatment, printing (screen, tampon and high pressure), paper and bookbinding, photography, video and access to the Fab Lab BITZ.

Exchange & networking

Katherina Longariva & Alastair Fuad-Luke at one of the By Design By Disaster conferences

Supervision and constant consultation with experts and stakeholders is a crucial part of this study programme.


You can get an impression of our topics and the atmosphere by visiting our blog and the blog post of our upcoming conference By Design or by Disaster 2020. This year we are founding the alumni and students network of study courses for social-ecological transformation. Transformative study programs unite!


Degree course director: Prof. Kris Krois (photo)
Student Representative in the Course Council: Janine Vorfeld

Team of Teachers: Lisa Borgenheimer, Nitzan Cohen, Sabina Frei, Alastair Fuad-Luke, Andrea Fumagalli, Kris Krois, Alvise Mattozzi, Matteo Moretti, Andreas Metzner-Szigeth, Karl Emilio Pircher (walking chair), Günther Reifer (terra institute), Elisabeth Tauber, Corinna Sy (cuccula), Secil Ugur Yavuz, Jan-Christoph Zoels (experientia)

Career opportunities

The MA Eco-Social Design supports students to invent and co-develop the professional practice that fits with them and with today's realities, challenges and potentials.

The variety of jobs in the traditional domain of design is already very broad and continues to expand. Eco-Social Design offers the possibility to set up your own design agency, work for interdisciplinary design agencies and/or collaborate with partners who are committed to environmental, social and political progress, such as NGOs, foundations, and public institutions, citizen groups, cooperatives and social enterprises. The expanding market of organic, eco-friendly and ethical products and services, the sharing economy and other innovative “alternative economies” create emergent fields for work opportunities to our graduates. For example, Community Economies and Commoning provide exciting contexts to contribute to, and to benefit from, new modes of work, production and consumption.


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Studying at unibz

Living in South Tyrol, Housing, Scholarships, Single Subject Courses and more

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Coming to unibz from Abroad

Everything you need to know as a degree-seeking applicant or as an incoming exchange student

Application and Admission

You can find all you need to know in order to apply and gain admission to this study programme by browsing through the information below.

Early Bird Application

Application: 02/03 - 28/04/2020 (by noon local time)
Language exams: 16 - 17/04/2020, if necessary, also on 18/04 (registration 22/03 - 07/04/2020)
Admission procedure and publication of ranking lists: by 18/05/2020
Payment of the 1st instalment of the tuition fees: by 28/05/2020 (by noon local time)
Enrolment: 15/07 - 16/10/2020 (by noon local time)

Late Application

Application: 20/05 - 09/07/2020 (by noon local time)
Language exams: 29/06 - 03/07/2020, if necessary, also on 04/07 or 06/07 (registration 25/05 - 19/06/2020)
Admission procedure and publication of ranking lists: by 29/07/2020
Payment of the 1st instalment of the tuition fees: by 06/08/2020 (by noon local time)
Enrolment: 29/07 - 16/10/2020 (by noon local time)

Preparatory courses and Freshers Days

Freshers Days: 28 - 29/09/2020

1st semester

Classes: 28/09 - 23/12/2020
Holidays: 24/12/2020 - 06/01/2021
Classes: 07/01 - 16/01/2021
Exams: 18/01 - 13/02/2021

2nd semester

Classes: 22/02 - 01/04/2021
Holidays: 02/04 - 05/04/2021
Classes: 06/04 - 12/06/2021
Exams: 14/06 - 10/07/2021

Autumn session

Exams: 23/08 - 25/09/2021

The Advisory Service provides support regarding your choice of study. In many cases a simple call or a short request is enough to get the relevant information (Tel. +39 0471 012100).

Study Course Page - Common Links - Design and Art


Photography: Stefania Zanetti, Andrea Dieck | Illustration: Insa Keilbach, Giulia Bencini | Infographics: Lisa Borgenheimer ('Arena' based on an idea of Alvise Mattozzi)