Master’s Theses

Master’s theses by students of the Master’s Program in “Social and Human Ecology” of the Vienna Institute of Social Ecology:

Nina Fuchs (2015) Effects of CAP subsidies on the livestock system of Samothraki – (Download thesis)

Julia Désirée Huber (2016), Food consumption patterns of the local population on the Greek island of Samothraki – (Abstract)

Julia Kolar (2016), The relevance of governance quality for sustainable resource use. Greece as a case study

Nathalie Schwaiger (2016), Potentials for Sustainable Tourism on the Greek Island of Samothraki

Markus Löw (ongoing), Creation of a land use/land cover map for Samothraki, for 4 different points in the last 4 decades

Christopher Baierl (ongoing) land cover/land use change and the role of overgrazing in the Natura 2000 area of Samothraki

Olivia Lange (ongoing), Research on the health system of Samothraki

Stefanie Wagner (ongoing) Research on the education system of Samothraki


Interview with Nathalie Schwaiger and Julia Huber

During their one month stay on the island they found answers to their research questions and got to know the island and the people living there. In the following short interviews you can read more about their theses and their motivations to conduct research on the Island.

1) Can you give a short description about your research on the Island?

Till the 1950s and early 60s food imports from the mainland were rare on Samothraki. The inhabitants lived self-sufficient. Starting in the 70s and even more so with the accession of Greece to the ECC (European Economic Community) in 1981 food imports to Samothraki increased drastically. This development on the one hand brought more variety to people’s daily diet, but also increased the inhabitants’ dependence from the mainland. My research focused on finding out more about the current food consumption practices of the local inhabitants. In order to draw a picture of the whole island I chose my interview partners across different age, gender and income groups. In my interviews I talked with people about the types of food and the quantity they consume as well as the source from where they obtain the food. I also talked with my interview partners about motives for food choices, such as health, price and support for local production.

2) Why did you choose to write your thesis about Samothraki?

I knew quite early in my masters that I wanted to deal with the subject of food in my thesis. I have always been interested in this topic. This might stem from growing up in my dad’s small grocery store. In addition, I also love travelling, discovering new places and cultures and being in nature. When I learnt about the opportunity to conduct a food consumption survey on a small Greek island, I couldn’t resist.

3) What particularly makes Samothraki an interesting place for socio-ecological research?

The fact that Samothraki is an island makes it particularly interesting. Islands face several additional burdens when compared to mainland areas, such as fragile ecosystems, populations, economies as well as strong dependence on imports, ferry lines, etc. Moreover, the definite border makes it easier for researchers to study the specific area and the society-nature interactions that happen within this border.

4) In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for the Island in terms of a sustainable development?

The challenges the island faces are manifold. From an economic point of view the current financial crisis poses a massive threat to people’s survival on the island. From an ecological perspective a big challenge is to overcome the problem of overgrazing which causes soil erosion. Another challenge is due to cultural aspects, such as a lack of trust and effective communication practices between the inhabitants.

5) What do you like most about the Island? Is Samothraki a special place for you and why?

I especially like that both nature and people are quite untouched on Samothraki. A spontaneous invitation for a Greek coffee and a nice chat are as common as meeting some wild pigs or other animals on the street while strolling through the beautiful countryside. Samothraki is a special place for me. It combines a great variety of natural habitats and cultural heritage within only a few kilometers.