Since 1994, the Leibniz Professorship has been awarded each semester to renowned international researchers and is one of the highest honors our university bestows.

Leibniz professors bring new innovative ideas for research, teaching and the training of early career researchers, and they enrich university life. Photo: Christian Hüller
Leibniz professors bring new innovative ideas for research, teaching and the training of early career researchers, and they enrich university life. Photo: Christian Hüller

Leibniz Professor in Winter Semester 2021/22: Iain Macdonald

We are very pleased to welcome Professor Iain Macdonald as Leibniz Professor in Leipzig in the winter semester 2021/22. The Canadian philosopher is one of the leading representatives of continental philosophy in North America. Since 2001, Iain Macdonald has been researching and teaching 19th and 20th century European philosophy as a professor at the Département de philosophie of the Université de Montréal.

Research on Continental Philosophy

A particular focus of Prof. Macdonald's research is on critical social theory, phenomenology, French philosophy and aesthetics. In his work, he manages to bring different lines of tradition in European philosophy into an extremely productive exchange with each other, and also repeatedly combines them with considerations of film and literary aesthetics in order to build a bridge to current socio-political issues.

Adorno expert

Due to his research activities, but also as co-founder of the Association for Adorno Studies and as President of the Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy, Iain Macdonald has gained a reputation as an internationally recognised Adorno expert. His latest monograph, "What Would Be Different", represents the quintessence of decades of engagement with Adorno's philosophy, which Iain Macdonald places in the older philosophical debate on the freedom of action, thereby gaining important impulses for a critical consideration of his own present. At the intersection of metaphysical and social theoretical thought, Iain Macdonald attempts nothing less than to expose the preconditions of a liberation of possibility from reality. Iain Macdonald convincingly updates the old motif of critical theory of a systematic blockade of social possibilities, which is capable of concealing even their smallest signs, as a contrasting foil of a historically-socially concretised concept of the possible.

Thanks to his outstanding research achievements, Prof. Macdonald has been a fellow and guest several times at renowned universities and research institutions, such as King's College Cambridge, the Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders" at Goethe University Frankfurt and most recently at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg. He is also an affiliate professor at McGill University in Montréal.

Events with the Leibniz Professors

9.11.2021, 6pm, lecture hall of Bibliotheca Albertina

Inaugural lecture "What Would Be Different: Blocked Possibilities in Benjamin and Adorno"

to the event
Leibniz Professor in the winter semester 2021/22 Ian Macdonald stands at a ballustrade in the Bibliotheca Albertina, landscape format
Leibniz Professor in the winter semester 2021/22 Ian Macdonald, Photo: Christian Hüller

Our Future Leibniz Professors:

Professor Dr Sebastian Schmidt (Summer semester 2022)

University of Colorado Boulder, USA, Research Area: Atmospheric Science

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Information about Leibniz Professorship Appointments

The Leibniz Professorship is for a W3 visiting professor who conducts interdisciplinary research and teaches classes for students and doctoral researchers. The aim is to stimulate partnerships, creating a foundation for academic innovation. We also hope to gain new ideas and input for the training of early career researchers. We would like to attract internationally renowned academics and researchers, primarily from countries outside Germany.

Preference will be given to researchers who contribute to research areas, research approaches and/or academic discourses that are not represented in Leipzig. The candidate must be proficient in one of the most widely used academic languages (English, German or French). We especially welcome nominations for outstanding researchers who are female and/or from outside Europe and the US as these minorities have to date been underrepresented in the Leibniz Professorship Programme.

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 Villa Tillmanns.

The teaching hours are limited to four semester hours per week. We expect the Leibniz Professor to participate in the training of doctoral researchers at the host institution or the Research Academy Leipzig by giving lectures, workshops, and/or colloquia, leading field trips, and/or teaching at the summer or winter school. At the beginning of the semester, the Leibniz Professor holds an inaugural lecture that is open to all university members. We also offer a Science Café, where the Leibniz Professor discusses a topic with selected guests in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. University members are invited to attend.

Proposals for the Leibniz Professorship should be made well in advance of the appointment (the current waiting period is roughly three years from time of application to appointment) and can be submitted by any professor at Leipzig University. Representatives of the research areas and the major research alliances at Leipzig University are particularly encouraged to submit proposals. The Rectorate awards the professorship based on the recommendation of the Research Commission.

Proposals should include the following information:

  • justification of the proposal and expectations
  • academic career
  • current research areas and the connection to research in Leipzig
  • planned contribution to the doctoral programmes at Leipzig University
  • outstanding academic achievements
  • references to existing partnerships
  • list of publications
  • indication of preferred semester

The selection criteria include the following:

  • compelling teaching approach and research objectives
  • connection to the research profile areas and research foci at Leipzig University or to current events
  • added value for doctoral programmes at the Research Academy Leipzig
  • long-term benefits



Please send proposals to:

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Rödl

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Rödl

Head of Leibniz Programme

Wächterstraße 30
04107 Leipzig

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