The daughter of working-class parents had to convince her family that it would pay for her to graduate from a college-track high school and continue her schooling at a university for applied sciences. She managed to do so and eventually became the Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection under Chancellor Schröder.
From her school days on, Renate Künast, currently chairperson of the German parliamentary group, Alliance 90/The Greens, consistently aimed to pursue her career. In her words, "I learned at a very early age that power requires an understanding of law and the legal system." For that reason, after completing a degree in social work, Künast enrolled to study law at Freie Universität. She completed her law degree in 1985.