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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 and fair 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 is understood as a catalyst of change.

With your projects, you try to approach today's issues effectively by (co-)designing concrete practices 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.

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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: 26 EU + 8 non-EU
Campus: Bozen-Bolzano
Tuition fees: €1.347,50 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 web site of our conference By Design or by Disaster 2019


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

Team of Teachers: Nitzan Cohen, Adelheid Biesecker, Lisa Borgenheimer, Secil Ugur Yavuz, Sabina Frei, Alastair Fuad-Luke, Günther Innerebner (, Kris Krois, Matteo Moretti,  Alvise Mattozzi, Karl Emilio Pircher (walking chair), Andreas Metzner-Szigeth, Elisabeth Tauber

Career opportunities

The 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.


studying at unibz

Studying at unibz

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

International applicants 3

Coming to unibz from Abroad

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


In order be admitted to the course, you will be required to prove that you have a B2 in English.
If you don't have an official language certification, you can take a language exam at our university.

Selection Criteria
Portfolio, the outline of a project proposal* and an interview.

Online Application
Early Bird - for EU and non-EU citizens: 1 March - 26 April 2019, noon
Late Application - for EU citizens only: 20 May - 11 July 2019, noon

Publication Ranking Lists
Early Bird: by 17 May 2019
Late Application: by 30 July 2019

In order to get admission you need a degree in design, architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism or a degree of an academy of arts. Candidates with other degrees need at least to have acquired 10 ECTS credits in the following fields: Design, Architecture and Spatial Planning, Landscape architecture or Interior Design.

More details can be found in the Study Manifesto.

Contact us by phone at +390471012100 or fill in the request form.

* outline of a hypothetical project proposal on which you could imagine to work on for a semester. The format is a maximum of two A4 pages, submitted as a pdf.  The main points of your project proposal must be explained concisely, clearly and appealingly. You can freely choose the style and the way of presenting this outline (text, images, graphics, etc.)

Ranking list

Study Manifesto

Regulations (only in Italian and German)

Apply here



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