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Staff Development

Development before Wolrd War II

The development of geography as an academic discipline was at certain times strongly influenced by geographers from Bonn, which is reflected in the structure and composition of research and teaching in the discipline at the University of Bonn:

The first postdoctoral lecturing qualification (German: Habilitation) of a geographer at the University of Bonn was in 1828 with G. B. Mendelssohn, who was appointed associate professor in 1835 and professor ad personam in 1847. A separate chair of geography with its own staff was established in 1875.

von RichthofenThe first head of the new department was the renowned geologist F. von Richthofen, later a leading geographer. Although Richthofen only remained in Bonn for four years, he is considered the founder of a modern geographical and regional approach and set the course for the future development of geography in Bonn.

Richthofen was succeeded by J.J. Rein in 1883. With his research interest in Japan, Rein established a close connection between the Department of Geography in Bonn and geography departments at Japanese universities, which continues until today.

PhilippsonA. Philippson, who held the chair from 1911 to 1929.
Originally a geomorphologist, Philippson also worked in many areas of geography. His regional interests were in the Mediterranean region and the Rhineland. He promoted the development and expansion of the department, established geography as an independent subject and was responsible for the creation of a second departmental chair for the field of general economic geography.

When O. Quelle was appointed to this chair, a new regional research interest in Latin America was introduced, which is still vivid in the department today.

WaibelFrom 1930 until the forced revocation of his appointment under the Nazi regime in 1937, geography in Bonn experienced a shift in focus towards landscape studies and an economic geography based on bio-geographical concepts under L. Waibel. At the same time, new regional research foci were established: the African and Latin American tropics. This comprehensive approach ultimately led to a reform of geography teaching in Bonn.

TrollC. Troll, who held the chair in Bonn from 1938 to 1966, had probably the longest-lasting influence on the departments.
His research interests in landscape ecology (Troll’s terminology) and the comparative geography of high mountain regions were mainly in the area of physical geography. He set high international standards and gained worldwide recognition for geography in Bonn.
He also equally encouraged the development of cultural and economic geography.

After World War II

In 1949, an associate professorship in economic geography was established, followed in 1950 by a sub-department of historical geography. In 1952, a sub-department of climatology and fluvial studies was created, from which the sub-department of applied physical geography later developed (headed by J. Grunert until 1996). In 1953, a sub-department for the regional geography of the Rhineland was created (W. Matzat, until 1995), followed in 1959 by a separate Department of Economic Geography with its own chair (1965 to 1986: H. Hahn). H. Hahn launched the intensive exchange with Afghanistan ("Ein Stuhl für Kabul" - in German).

Historical geography was awarded the status of a subsidiary department in the Faculty of Arts in 1962 and was headed by K. Fehn from 1972 to 2001.
The Geography Department was expanded in 1963 to include a chair of cultural geography (W. Kuls - in German).

The development of geography as a subject continued unabated under H. Hahn, W. Kuls and W. Lauer (from 1966, successor to C. Troll) in the context "around 1968" (in German). It followed the establishment of a second chair each in physical geography (1967; 1970-1994 P. Höllermann) and economic geography (from 1972 K.A. Boesler), foundation of the sub-department for applied geography in 1970 (until 1993 G. Aymans), establishment of a further chair of geography in 1972 (E. Mayer) and the upgrading of the positions of D. Klaus and H. Toepfer to professors in 1982. In 1980, H. Böhm (in German) was appointed extraordinary professor.

In the years following the mid-1980s, almost all chairs were restaffed due to retirements, bringing major changes in the focus of research and introducing renowned experts in important methodologies: in 1987, E. Ehlers (cultural geography, developing countries) succeeded H. Hahn; in 1985, R. Grotz (urban geography, industrial geography) replaced W. Kuls; in 1988, M. Winiger (climatology, geoecology, high mountain regions) succeeded W. Lauer.

In 1995, H.-D. Laux (population and social geography) was appointed extraordinary professor. In 1996, B. Diekkrüger (hydrology, ecosystem studies) took over W. Flügel's chair, which had been made available to the Department of Geography by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences in 1990 and was rededicated from the history of natural sciences to geo-hydrology. In the same year, R. Dikau (geomorphology, natural hazards) succeeded P.W. Höllermann, while K. Greve (GIS) took over the newly established chair of GIS. J. Pohl (social geography, theory and methodology) succeeded G. Aymans. In 1997, L. Zöller (quaternary morphology, dating methods) succeeded J. Grunert. In 1998, G. Menz (remote sensing) took up his position as successor to W. Matzat, whose chair was rededicated. In the same year, G. Grabher (regional economics and economic geography) succeeded K.-A. Boesler. Also in 1998, D. Müller-Mahn (development geography) succeeded E. Mayer, but left in 2001 for a chair in Bayreuth. He was succeeded in 2001 by the first female professor of geography in Bonn, S. Tröger.

Development since merger into a single Department of Geography

In October 2001, W. Schenk (historical geography) succeeded K. Fehn. At the same time, the sub-department of historical geography was merged with the Department of Geography.

L. Zöller left to take up a chair in Bayreuth in 2002. The chair was briefly filled by B. Schütt, followed by J. Herget. In 2004, Herget was formally appointed to the chair. His main interests are in geomorphology and palaeohydrology.

Changes in the years 2003 and 2004 gave the department a new direction. In 2003, U. Schickhoff (vegetation geography) succeeded D. Klaus, whose chair was rededicated from education to vegetation geography in view of the imminent end of teacher training in 2008. In 2004, H.-G. Bohle (geographical development studies) succeeded E. Ehlers, and C.-C. Wiegandt (urban and regional studies) replaced R. Grotz.

M. Winiger was elected Rector of the University of Bonn in 2004 after holding the office of Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences for a year. His chair was temporarily filled by J. Löffler who received tenure in 2007.

In October 2004, U. Schickhoff was appointed to a chair in Hamburg. The chair of vegetation geography was temporarily filled by J. Böhmer until the appointment of S. Schmidtlein in July 2006.

The chair of cartography in the Faculty of Agriculture was assigned to the Geography Department in July 2005. The offices and staff of the chair remained at Meckenheimer Allee 172. A. Zipf held the chair of cartography from October 2007 until his appointment to a chair at the University of Heidelberg in October 2009. This post was rededicated to the chair of eco-hydrology and water resource management, which was filled by M. Evers in April 2013.

G. Grabher was appointed to a chair at HafenCity University in Hamburg in April 2009. After several temporary substitutes, the chair of economic geography was filled by B. Klagge in 2012. In 2013, D. Müller-Mahn succeeded H.-G. Bohle who retired in the same year.

In September 2013, L. Schrott filled the position as early successor of R. Dikau who retired in February 2016 after 20 years at the department. From October 2013 until September 2015, Ch. Ifejika Speranza worked as professor in the MSc Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security jointly offered with the United Nations University. In November 2015, the Department of Geography welcomed J. Verne as an early successor for S. Tröger who retired in March 2020.

G. Menz passed away unexpectedly in August 2016. His chair was filled with interim professor O. Dubovyk since October 2019. In December 2016, N. Marquardt filled the chair of social geography which had not been occupied since the passing of J. Pohl in June 2014.

B. Diekkrüger retired in September 2019.

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