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Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences

Department of Geography

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The research profile of the Department of Geography is quite varied thanks to the broad range of professorships it includes.

The work of the various research groups in the Department of Geography combines their shared claim to exploring spatial processes from a social/cultural, scientific, and didactic perspective in order to remain supported and guided by a sense of responsibility and reflection of one's own actions. Our meta-concept "Design - Space - Responsibility" merges into five dimensions of geographical work.

Interculturality & MigrationHide

Migration Processes

investigates the Political Geography working group from both a socio-geographical (networks, migration systems) and a politico-geographical perspective (flight, conflicts, involuntary immobility). A project funded by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research "Climate Change, Environmental Changes and Migration - Social-Ecological Conditions of Population Movements: The Example of the Sahelian Countries Mali and Senegal" was recently completed in cooperation with the  Climatology working group.

Interculturality & Migration

focuses on the Development Studies in Geography working group in the context of Africa based on urban mobility and housing finance in informal settlements in Tanzania as well as in Germany by way of regular study projects (teaching research). Applied research in the context of development emphasizes responsible interaction between people, society, and the environment.

Historical Geography

of German refugees and "expellees" from Eastern Europe after the Second World War represents a new research perspective of the Cultural Geography working group.  Another project investigates the migration experiences of Latin American transgender persons in Europe. Topics of interculturality - "travelling ideas" and transcultural scientific discourses - are also taken into consideration both practically (translations) and theoretically.

Possibilities & Limits

One subject of research in the Social Geography working group involves the possibilities and limits to understanding foreign cultural contexts in Latin America and Africa in a metatheoretical perspective of practical intercultural hermeneutics. The key here is to reconstructively understand and interpret the contextual situation and logic of foreign cultural life worlds: A fundamental act of understanding all geographical development research in the Global South, which requires intensive reflection work.

Transformation & DevelopmentHide

Applied questions regarding development problems

The Development Studies in Geography working group addresses applied questions concerning development problems in sub-Saharan Africa and the associated effects on Europe. The emphasis is on applied urban and urbanization research - in particular in the investigation of living space and housing environment research - and in the areas of rural-city migration, issues of urban and regional governance, and in rural regional development, particularly under the influence of globalization. Current research projects deal with land use changes, conflicts caused by land competition, and land grabbing in East Africa, as well as changing local food culture habits under the influence of globalization in Ethiopia and local economic development strategies in Ghana. Food supply and life security, e.g. through microcredits and strategies in the context of vulnerability, as well as the latest research on the perception and governance of waste, have an impact on human-environment interaction and the spatial order in large cities and mid-sized cities.

The investigation of development problems and potentials

The focus of the Urban and Regional Development working group is on the investigation of development problems and potentials for the transformation to sustainability in cities and regions. In doing so, far-reaching social challenges such as demographic change, structural change towards a service and knowledge economy, or the energy transition are made the starting point of the investigations. The aim of the research is to analyse what enables and inhibits sustainability-oriented transformation processes, how they can be designed and scientifically supported. The implementation of concrete projects is evaluated by accompanying scientific research. Current research projects include The significance of lifelong learning for regional development, the role of universities as regional stakeholders, institutional adaptation strategies to demographic change, the evaluation of measures to protect biodiversity, the spatial planning issue of the equivalence of living conditions, or municipal and intercommunal strategies to increase the resilience of rural areas.

Demographic Change

The Economic Geography working group focuses on demographic change. This includes economic development in stagnation and shrinking regions, adaptation strategies of regionally anchored companies to demographic change, new forms of user-producer relations, and rural enterpreneurship. Other focal points are industrial restructuring at the regional and global level, institutions and their role in business development, and European border region research. In addition, there is interest in new forms of housing in the context of urban development  and regional development with a focus on Northern Europe (Scandinavia) and Central Eastern Europe.

Social and socio-theoretical approaches

The research activities carried out by the Social Geography working group centre on social and socio-theoretical approaches to urban and rural areas in the field of governance research. The European SELFCITY project on self-organisation processes in the context of climate change is currently being coordinated by the Chair. The aim of the transnational cooperation with Great Britain and the Netherlands is to study collectivization processes in urban and rural areas for the sustainable change of consumerist lifestyles, including "low-carbon communities" in Europe.

Natural processes & interactions between society and the environmentHide

The emergence of surface forms

The Geomorphology working group investigates how the earth's surface forms emerged. This is reconstructed on the basis of relic forms, deposits, and findings of modern geology and neighbouring sciences. The temporal dimension of environmental change and its quality are in the foreground. In the Quaternary (ice age) as the most recent period in the history of the earth, human beings enter the stage and increasingly influence their environment, especially in the post-glacial period, an environment which itself is also exposed to strong natural changes. The geoarchaeological reconstruction of early human environments and the interactions with human cultures from the Palaeolithic to the present is one focus of geomorphologists in Bayreuth. Particular emphasis is placed on the use of novel physical methods for age determination such as luminescence  and magnetic dating, but also on high-resolution remote sensing methods. The regional focus is on geo-archives in Europe and young volcanism in Central Europe.

Translation processes of political-technological regulatory approaches

The Political Geography working group focuses on translation processes of political-technological regulatory approaches in the Global South. How do knowledge complexes revolve around political-technological regulation in the relationship between decision-makers from different contexts, how are they translated, and how do these translations materialize? Theoretical considerations of the relationship between relational and territorial geographies are also of importance in this connection. A new research field has also emerged: energy complexes in the Global South.

Climate Ecology

Climate ecology, which illuminates the interface between atmosphere and (anthropogenically influenced) ecosystems on the landscape scale, is the focus of the Climatology working group. Through the combined use of ground and satellite-based remote sensing, in-situ measurements and numerical modelling, the work represents a link between the applications of global climate research and the approaches in functional biodiversity and ecosystem research. Of central importance to the research, which mainly focuses on sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, is the anthropogenic influence on environmental changes. The emphasis here is on the use of resources, for example through grazing and wood extraction, but also on the management of ecosystems by the population.

The investigation of the heterogeneity of natural rock bodies

One research focus of the Geology working group is the investigation of the heterogeneity of natural rock bodies and their effects on natural processes (e.g. groundwater flow) as well as on the stability of historical buildings. Heterogeneity in rock bodies can be caused both by processes during formation (sediment facies, hydrodynamic conditions, sediment supply, etc.) and by post-depositional processes (tectonics, diagenesis, etc.). In both cases, this leads to changes in the lateral continuity of the rock and thus to a heterogeneous distribution of the rock’s physical properties such as hydraulic permeability or rock compressibility. Methods of near-surface geophysics are used to indirectly determine the required information about the heterogeneous structure of the rock body (geo-radar, tomographic geoelectrics, self-potential measurements, refraction seismics, sonar, and magnetometry).

Spatial Patterns

spatial patterns in the spread of species, biotic communities, and ecosystems are one area of emphasis of the Biogeography working group. These are related to social problems and challenges, for example in the fields of healthcare, nature conservation, forestry, and agriculture. Much of the research carried out by Bayreuth's Biogeography working group deals with the ecological effects of climate change. These are investigated with methods of field research, with experiments, with models, and by evaluating large data sets.

Spatial Order & TerritorialityHide

Borders, Territory & Territoriality

Borders, Territory & Territoriality represents an important research focus of the Political Geography working group, because territories are not simply there, not given, but must be produced and maintained: It is "territorialization work" that takes place through social and technical practices and the establishment of discourses; territories are thus also effects and production achievements of state practice.

Border demarcation and borderwork policy

This is the focus of the Cultural Geography working group's research perspective, whether in the context of the sovereignty of European borders in connection with transgender identity or cultural transformations and cooperations at the border regions between Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic. At the same time, the working group is developing an interest in spatial power relations from three new perspectives: First, it involves an investigation of the performance of spatial orders as a political economy of attention as well as in a study on Washington DC as a disenfranchised territorial exception. Secondly, the topic of identity and power also comes to bear on the historical-geographical focus on the relationship between gender roles, public space, and coin-operated machines in the 20th century. Third, it addresses the development of non-liberal forms of power in post-colonial Brazil.

Teaching/learning researchHide

The foundations of geographical teaching and learning

The foundations of geographical teaching and learning and the development of concepts of subject-related teaching and learning in the areas of "spatial orientation", "intercultural learning", and "student ideas" are the main research areas of the Didactics of Geography working group. Various research projects are being investigated with eyetracking methods.


is a teaching project recently developed and launched by the  Social Geography research group. This is a virtual logbook designed for the preparation, implementation, and follow-up of student excursions and includes various multimedia visualizations.

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