Research Areas

The department’s key fields, which overlap with and complement one another in terms of their content, are reflected primarily in its research projects but also in its teaching. They pool the department’s expertise and that of the individual working groups. The topics addressed by the key fields cover a wide range of cross-disciplinary research questions that can only be tackled adequately through inter- and transdisciplinary dialogue. For this reason, they focus on building up an academic network within the department and the University and on fostering close collaboration within the ABC/J geoscientific research alliance—the geosciences network in the Aachen-Bonn-Cologne/Jülich research region—and with other stakeholders in Germany and further afield.


The “Risk” research focus at the Department of Geography is situated at the interface between nature and society, enabling it to form a bridge between physical and geographical process research oriented toward the natural sciences on the one hand and human geography oriented toward the social and cultural sciences on the other. Adopting a range of perspectives, issues such as flood risks and gravitational mass movements are studied and practical interdisciplinary work on risk management is carried out.


The “Water” research focus at the Department of Geography concentrates on the most important resource of the 21st century. The natural and social sciences need to adopt interdisciplinary approaches to the burning questions of our time on various spatial and time scales. This is because, as well as being able to view water from a quantitative and qualitative perspective, the demand for it has to be considered both for society and for individual ecosystems. This research focus is closely linked to another, “Risk,” via extreme events (flooding, drought).


The “Geomatics” research focus at the Department of Geography carries out methodology research, developing and analyzing methods for recording, managing, analyzing, modeling and presenting spatial structures and processes. In other words, geomatics combines a number of different geomethodological disciplines: remote sensing, geographical information systems, geostatistics, cartography, and spatially explicit modeling and analysis. This broad methodological range lays the foundations for integrating questions of physical and human geography in the context of social and ecological systems in an interdisciplinary way. Geomatics furnishes a scientifically sound basis for planning and designing coupled human-environment systems. Besides the important basic research that it does, it is primarily applied research—with its many varied applications to current environmental issues and questions of spatial planning and environmental management—that makes geomatics one of the key tools of the 21st century.

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