Prof. Dr. Jörn Leonhard - Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prizewinner 2024

Prof. Dr. Jörn Leonhard

Prof. Dr. Jörn Leonhard

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

Modern and Contemporary History, University of Freiburg

Jörn Leonhard receives the Leibniz Prize for his work in the field of the European and transatlantic cultural and political history of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Working on the linguistic and conceptual history of European liberalism, the relationship between empire and the nation state, and the history and post-history of the First World War, his contributions have opened up new avenues for historical scholarship and are read worldwide. In his award-winning doctoral dissertation on liberalism in 19th century Europe, he already succeeded in identifying the influences that emanate from this pattern of thought on our world today. In his post-doctoral lecturing qualification thesis on the connection between the interpretation of war and the definition of the nation state in Europe and the United States between 1750 and 1914, he was again able to meaningfully combine aspects of conceptual, cultural and political history. In his subsequent monographs Die Büchse der Pandora.Geschichte des Ersten Weltkriegs and Der überforderte Frieden. Versailles und die Welt 1918-1923, Leonhard placed international research on the war and post-war period between 1914 and 1924 on a new footing. His approach is primarily based on conceptual precision, empirical density and a methodological openness which draws on multiple perspectives. 

After studying history, political science and German philology in Heidelberg and Oxford, Jörn Leonhard completed his doctorate at the Heidelberg University in 1998. Having obtained his post-doctoral lecturing qualification in modern history, also in Heidelberg, he spent a short time at the University of Jena before going on to accept an appointment to the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History of Western Europe at the University of Freiburg in 2006. Despite many calls, he has remained loyal to the University of Freiburg to this day, where he was also the founding director of the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) from 2007 to 2012. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Werner Heisenberg Medal. 


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