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Institute Profile

The Institute of Geographical Sciences is one of three institutes within the Department of Earth Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin. The institute is divided into various fields of study. With regard to theory, application and development of methods, empirical research, and application, these fields of study reflect the foci of research conducted within the professorships listed below.

Geography explores the surface of the Earth in its spatial differentiations and physical characteristics and as the space and site of human life and activity. The research profiles of the various working groups at the Institute of Geographical Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin demonstrate a heavy emphasis on evaluating interactions between humans and the environment.

The Center for Development Studies (ZELF) analyzes political, sociocultural, and economic developments and transformation processes taking place in the countries of the Global South. The Center focuses on identifying processes of marginalization and impoverishment in peripheral areas and the natural and societal causes of these processes, and on formulating strategies to counter these processes. The regional emphasis is on peripheral areas in South and Central Asia. (Dr. H. Kreutzmann, Professor)

The Physical Geography field of study pursues questions of Late Quaternary paleoenvironmental reconstruction, with particular interest in contexts related to environmental history, meaning the changing influences of climate and humans on the landscape. The focus is on relief-forming processes as well as soil erosion, river sedimentation, glacier systems, and mass movements. The flows of materials are modeled and mass balancing calculations are carried out, which in turn allow for forecasts of the future development of natural resources. The regional emphasis of this work is on the arid belt stretching across the Old World (Spain, West and East Africa, China, Mongolia) and on various alpine regions (including the Alps and Taiwan). (Dr. M. Böse, Professor; Dr. B. Schütt, Professor).

The Applied Geography field of study primarily examines hydrological processes and the geomorphological processes associated with them. This discipline’s predominant interests lie in simulations of precipitation and runoff and analysis of hydrological extreme situations (high and low water), processes (flows of materials) associated with these situations, and development of suitable management strategies to mitigate potential damage (e.g., integrated high water protection). (Dr. A. Schulte, Professor)

The Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics Working Group aims on multidisciplinary approaches, with a strong focus on monitoring land use cover and land use cover change. Our research preliminary comprises the development of advanced image processing techniques including state-of-the art classification methods, taken from the field of machine learning and pattern recognition, data fusion and multitemporal image analysis.

A particular focus is the synergetic usage of optical and SAR data. The current regional focus of is Eastern Europe, Brazilian Amazon and Germany. (Dr. B. Waske, Professor)


  • Geography
  • Geoinformatics
  • Remote Sensing