Department für Geographie




Lehr- und Forschungseinheit Mensch-Umwelt-Beziehungen


The Teaching and Research Unit Human-Environment Relations (HER), Department of Geography at LMU Munich engages in cutting-edge research on sustainability transformations in coupled human-environment-systems. Its research integrates scientific expertise on, first, risks and responses regarding the effects of environmental and climate change as well as, second, opportunities and barriers regarding the mitigation of future environmental degradation and global warming.

Within the first stream, led by the chair holder Prof. Matthias Garschagen (W3), HER pursues three tightly interconnected lines of research: Firstly, the unit develops and applies innovative methods to assess past, current and especially future trends in risk as they unfold at the interface of climate change hazards and changing human societies and infrastructures. Secondly, the unit is engaged in the current frontiers of adaptation research by evaluating different options for risk reduction and adaptation (including aspects of tipping points and limits of adaptation) and by analyzing how different options are negotiated within the wider risk governance in societies. Thirdly, the group assesses when and how transformative change for risk reduction becomes necessary and how it can be fostered pro-actively, e.g. through new planning regulations or insurance solutions. The group develops and applies cutting-edge mixed methods approaches, including novel scenario techniques, modelling, gaming simulations, household surveys and participatory workshop formats. While adopting a global perspective in many of its projects, most of the empirical research focuses on Europe as well as transition economies in Asia and Africa. Cities in different parts of the world receive particular attention.

The second strand of research, led by Prof. Henrike Rau (W2), investigates the causes and consequences of (un)sustainable consumption at multiple scales, ranging from households to global movements and networks. Using qualitative and mixed-methods approaches, this section of HER investigates the social dimensions of daily practices and their resource requirements in areas such as mobility, food and energy. Empirical findings in relation to urban mobility, food consumption and domestic energy use are complemented with internationally recognized contributions to the conceptual and methodological advancement of inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research. In her role as affiliated professor with the Rachel Carson Center at LMU Munich, Prof. Rau lends her expertise to the Center’s very successful Environment and Society PhD programme.

The unit’s strength has been proven by its past and current achievements: The group of Prof. Garschagen currently runs eight international research projects, many of which in collaboration with leading academic institutions around the globe (e.g. King’s Colleague London, National University of Australia, United Nations University). Research findings have been published ni leading peer-reviewed journals, including Nature. Likewise, the group of Prof. Rau has over the past years been successfully running a number of international research projects funded by different sources from Bavaria to the EC. Research results have been published in top international journals such as Global Environmental Change or the Journal of Cleaner Production. The research success of HER and the contribution of knowledge with high impact for society and policy has led to the appointment in leading science-policy-panels at the global scale, e.g. the repeated appointment of Prof. Garschagen, as a Lead Author in the IPCC (SROCC, AR6 and SYR) or the appointment of Prof. Rau in RECOMS, a Marie Sklodowska Curie (MSCA) Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission.


Lehrstuhl für Mensch-Umwelt-Beziehungen
Department für Geographie
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Luisenstraße 37
80333 München

Tel.: +49 / (0) 89 / 2180 - 4141
Fax.: +49 / (0) 89 / 2180 - 4142


Sheren Leung (Vertretung)

Tel.: +49 / (0) 89 / 2180 - 4141

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