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Leibniz Professorship

Photo: Karoline Darmüntzel

Since 1994, the Leibniz-Professorship has been awarded biannually to renowned international scholars (mainly from abroad) and is one of the highest honours conferred by Leipzig University.

Leibniz-Professors provide impetus for research, teaching, and the development of the next generation of scholars and serve to enhance university life.

Proposals for the Leibniz Professorship should be made in the medium to long term (about one to three years before the scheduled occupation) and can be submitted by all professors of Leipzig University. The speakers of the main research areas and of the major research networks are particularly invited to submit their applications. The rector’s office selects the recipient of the professorship based on the recommendation of the Research Commission.


Information on the Leibniz Professorship

The Leibniz-Professor is a W3-guest professor, who provides interdisciplinary instruction for graduates and students as well as conducts research. The goal is to stimulate cooperation, to create the foundation for scientific innovations, and to advance the training of junior scientists.

Prerequisites for candidates

Prerequisites for candidates

Internationally renowned scientists, mainly from abroad, should be recipients of the award. A candidate, with interdisciplinary qualifications is especially desirable. Preference will be given to scientists, who contribute to research areas, methodological approaches, or scientific discourses that are not represented at Leipzig. In addition to the candidate’s mother tongue, it is expected that the candidate will be conversant in one of the most widely used academic languages (English, French, German). In order to accommodate Leipzig’s diverse programme offerings, it is anticipated that the incoming professor will be from a different discipline than that of the outgoing recipient of the professorship.



The Leibniz-Professor is offered a temporary employment contract (W3) that covers the semester for which a leave of absence from the primary place of employment is taken. The Leibniz-Professor will be provided with an office at the Research Academy. If desired, the Research Academy can provide assistance with planning and organizing the stay. In preparing seminars, the Leibniz-Professor has access to an assistant of the Leibniz-Programme.



The teaching requirement is limited to four semester periods per week ("Semesterwochenstunden"). A contribution to graduate education at the guest institution or at the Research Academy Leipzig, e.g. in the form of lectures, workshops, excursions, or participation in summer or winter schools, is expected. In addition, participation in less conventional formats, such as the Science Café is expressly welcome.

At the beginning of the semester, the Leibniz-Professor gives an inaugural lecture that is open to the public. The text of the lecture is published in the series "Leibniz-Lectures-Leipzig".



Proposals for the Leibniz Professorship should be made in the medium to long term (about one to three years before the scheduled occupation) and can be submitted by all professors of Leipzig University. The speakers of the main research areas and of the major research networks are particularly invited to submit their applications. In demand for the Leibniz Professorship are outstanding colleagues at foreign universities and research institutes, who stand for access and expertise that is not yet available at Leipzig University. We are particularly pleased about nominations from outstanding women and persons outside of Europe and the USA, as these are so far little represented under the Leibniz Professorships. Proposals are to be addressed to the leadership of the Leibniz program, currently Prof. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, Wächterstr. 30, 04107 Leipzig.

Proposals should include the following information about the candidates:

  • Reasons for selecting the candidate and expectations for the stay
  • Academic background
  • Current research focus and how it relates to research at Leipzig University
  • Contribution to graduate education
  • Outstanding scientific achievements
  • Information on current cooperation/collaboration
  • Publications
  • Preferred semester for the visit


The selection criteria include the following:

  • A compelling research or teaching concept, a research profile that is in keeping with that of Leipzig University or reflective of current major events
  • Ability to make a positive contribution to the doctoral qualification programme of the Research Academy
  • Sustainability of the stay


Leibniz Professor in Winter Semester 2018/2019 : Prof. Dr. Sjak Smulders

Photo of Prof. Dr. Sjak Smulders taken by Maurice van den Bosch)

Inauguration Lecture: 17 October 2018, 6 PM - Old Stock Market Building  (Naschmarkt 2, 04109 Leipzig)

Areas of Expertise: Economics

Title of Inaugural Lecture:  "Economic Growth: Recent Insights on its Roots, Rhythm and Future"

Abstract: Over the past 200 years or so, each next generation in Europe/Germany is substantially richer than the previous one - with higher income, more to spend, more leisure time and holidays, better health. We might forget about this amazing and robust phenomenon of economic growth when it is hidden by the irregular rhythm of big events, like war, the German post-war divide and subsequent unification, or the global big recession of 2008. To better appreciate what kind of progress economic growth has brought us, we need to see the pattern over many generations and we should go back in time - maybe as far as Luther, Leibniz, and Bach's time.
This lecture first aims to discuss the roots of economic growth. Are we really richer than the wealthy merchant in 17th century Leipzig? Why was the peasant that fought in the Peasant War (1525) as poor as his descendant who defeated Napoleon at the Völkerschlacht (1813) three centuries later, but why did economic growth start to benefit peasant and merchant alike after Napoleon, Marx, and Bismarck? We show how recent advances in economics and economic history have increased - and sometimes changed - our understanding of economic growth in the past and presence.
The lecture also looks ahead. If global climate problems continue to be unsolvable in international agreements and population aging further puts more pressure on welfare systems, our future economy might be significantly poorer. Moreover, consumerism and overexploitation of the world's natural resources in the pursuit of economic growth have evoked criticism of the capitalist model of growth and its moral grounds. We discuss how environmental economics and climate science has recently provided new answers to these challenges.
The lecture consists of a number of blocks on different but related aspects of economic growth. The blocks are separated by Baroque music, performed by Maartje van den Boom-Coppes (recorder) and Ramon van den Boom (harpsichord). As complement to understanding economic history through scientific theories and empirical facts, music can make us relive and experience the emotions and sounds of the past.

Planned Commitment as Leibniz Professor (Appointments will be announced elsewhere):

  • Course for doctoral researchers at the Central-German Doctoral Program Economics
  • Master's Course Economics
  • Lecture in an interdisciplinary series
  • Participation in a Science Café
  • Consultation talks for doctoral candidates

To Person:

Professor Smulders teaches economics at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands. He is a proven expert on sustainable development, resource and environmental economics. His research interests lie in the areas of growth theory, economic history and international trade. Prof. Smulder's work provides theoretical foundations for model-based policy evaluation studies.
The economist from the North Brabant of the North of the Netherlands has emerged as the author of highly acclaimed publications and co-editor of prestigious journals. He advises i. a. the World Bank and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Prof. Smulders has already been a guest at numerous research universities, i. a. at the University of Heidelberg, the ETH Zurich and at the Universities of Toulouse, Calgary and Oxford.


Future Leibniz Professors – We look forward to joining us:

Summer semester 2019: Prof. Yuval Gefen

Summer semester 2019: Prof. Yuval Gefen

Prof. Yuval Gefen
(Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel)

Area of expertise: Theoretical Physics

Further information