Markus Leibenath

I was born and grew in the rural east of North Rhine-Westphalia, in a small town surrounded by fields and large beech forests on rolling hills. I started my professional education with a two-year apprenticeship and a diploma in landscape gardening. From 1988 to 1994 I studied landscape architecture, ecology and planning at the Technische Universität München, including two terms as ‘special student’ at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

In 1995 and 1996 I worked as project officer in the branch office of a consulting firm for infrastructure and environment in Thuringia where I dealt with environmental impact assessments related to transport infrastructure projects. During this time I applied successfully for a PhD scholarship from Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt which allowed me to pursue doctoral studies at Technische Universität Berlin. As I was always interested in economics (and also more broadly in social sciences), I wrote my dissertation on the economic development of national park regions, based on a case study in the Müritz national park in Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania.

Since 2000 I have been employed as a researcher at the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER) in Dresden. I also teach at the Dresden Technische Universität (giving seminars for master students). In my first years at the IOER I focused on European and transboundary spatial development, particularly in the Polish-German and Czech-German borderlands. Later on I had several projects regarding the coordination of ecological networks. My current focus is on the governance and the social construction of landscapes in the context of renewable energies, especially wind power. To this end, I apply both post-structuralist and institutionalist theories.

In 2011 I became one of two spokespersons for a network of German-speaking landscape researchers. This informal group goes by the name of ‘Arbeitskreis Landschaftsforschung’ ( and has an email list with almost 80 addresses. It also publishes a newsletter twice a year and aims to organise a transdisciplinary seminar on an annual basis.

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