GEM Initiative at Yale University
Governance, Environment,
and Markets Initiative

Prof. Frank Biermann

Prof. Frank Biermann
Frank Biermann is professor of political science and of environmental policy sciences at the VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and visiting professor of earth system governance at Lund University, Sweden. He specialises in the study of global environmental politics, with emphasis on climate negotiations, UN reform, global adaptation governance, public-private governance mechanisms, the role of science, North-South relations, and trade and environment conflicts. He pioneered the concept of ‘earth system governance’ in 2005, which has evolved into a major global research programme in this field.

Biermann has authored, co-authored or edited 14 books, and published 67 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 73 chapters in academic books, along with more than 100 papers, reports, and contributions to policy-oriented journals. He is the co-editor (with O. Young) of the Earth System Governance book series with The MIT Press, member of the editorial boards of Ecology and SocietyGlobal Environmental Politics and Environmental Values, and regular reviewer for 20 other academic journals. He is also regularly requested as reviewer for research foundations, agencies and universities in Europe and the United States, and has been invited for media interviews in outlets as diverse as Dutch national newspapers, the BBC, and Korean National Television.

Biermann holds several research management positions. Internationally, he chairs the Earth System Governance Project, a ten-year core research project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (earthsystemgovernance.org). Biermann is also the founding director of the Global Governance Project, a joint research programme of 12 European institutes. At the VU University Amsterdam, Biermann heads the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies, a team of 30 researchers that was evaluated in 2007 as the top department in the field in the Netherlands and as ‘internationally at the forefront’. Biermann also serves as general director of the Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (Sense.nl), a national network of ten research institutes, 150 tenured environmental scientists and 400 PhD students; and as member of the board of the newly founded Amsterdam Global Change Institute.

Biermann has held professional or visiting affiliations with several research institutions, including Freie Universität Berlin, German Advisory Council on Global Change, Harvard University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Maryland at College Park, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Social Science Research Centre Berlin, Stanford University, and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Biermann has 16 years of teaching experience at MSc level in Germany, India, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States. At present, he teaches the specialization Global Environmental Governance in the one-year MSc Political Science at the VU University Amsterdam. Six of his PhD students have graduated so far: three with highest distinction (summa cum laude), and three winning international awards.

Biermann has served the academic community in numerous functions. He has been the initiator and first chair, in 2001, of the Berlin Conferences on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, which has evolved into an annual European series of widely-attended academic gatherings. He also served on the boards of the Environmental Policy and Global Change section of the German Political Science Association (2000-2006, chair 2000-2003); of the Federation of German Scientists (2002-2006); and of the German Association for the United Nations, Berlin-Brandenburg Chapter (2001-2003). He has been the founding chair of the Indo-German Forum on International Environmental Governance, and of the Marine Affairs Group of the German NGO Forum on Environment and Development (1995-1997).

Biermann holds a habilitation (German postdoctoral academic qualification, 2001), a PhD summa cum laude from Freie Universität Berlin (1997), and master’s degrees in political science (Freie Universität Berlin, 1993) and international law (University of Aberdeen, 1994), both with distinction.

During his university studies, he travelled extensively throughout Africa and India. He has won several scholarships, grants and awards, including the 2011 Social Science Research Prize of VU University Amsterdam; the 1998 Joachim Tiburtius Prize for the best dissertation of the three Berlin universities; a fellowship by Harvard University; and a scholarship by the Talented Students Programme of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (1991-1993). He was selected as the representative for Germany to the International Forum of Young Scientists during the 1999 UNESCO World Science Conference. At the age of 33, he was elected a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, a group of up to 500 individuals ‘chosen for eminence in art, the natural and social sciences, and the humanities’.
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