Prof. Dr. Benno Werlen
Prof. Dr. Benno Werlen

Zur Person

Prof. Dr. Benno Werlen (*1952) holds the UNESCO chair on ‘Global Understanding for Sustainability’ and was Chair holder for Social Geography at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena from 1997-2018. He studied geography, sociology, cultural anthropology and economy at the Université de Fribourg (Switzerland), got his PhD (Action Centered Geography) from the faculty of philosophy of the University of Fribourg in 1985, and his Habilitation (Everyday Regionalizations) from the faculty of natural sciences of the university of Zurich in 1993. He has taught at the universities of Fribourg, Kiel (Germany), Zurich, ETH Zurich, Cambridge (GB), Salzburg, Geneva, Nijmegen and Jena. As visiting scholar he worked at the London School of Economics, and at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is the founder of the action centered geography, the initiator and the Executive Director of the ‘2016 International Year of Global Understanding’ approved by the General Conference of UNESCO and proclaimed by the International Sciences Councils of the Natural, Social and Human Sciences (ICSU, ISSC, CIPSH), Chair of the IGU-Commission ‘Cultural Approach in Geography’ (204-2016), since 2016 Chair of the IGU-Commission ‘Global Understanding’, acted as a Panel Member of the Agence National de Recherche (France) for the ‘Social and Human Sciences’ from 2008-12, and of the European Research Council (Brussels) from 2008-15 for ‘Society and Environment’. Currently he is a member of the Council of the World Cultural Forum, and the European Academy of Science for the field of the Social Sciences.



His main interests are theory and methodology of the action centered geography, social spatiality, and global sustainability as well as political regionalism/nationalism and processes of urbanization. With his concept of "Everyday Regionalizations" he addresses different types of world relations as basic approach for the research of globalization and urbanization processes.

Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • Gesellschaft, Handlung und Raum. Grundlagen handlungstheoretische Sozialgeographie. [Society, Action and Space. Foundation of Action Theoretical Social Geography]. Stuttgart: Steiner 1987 (3rd edition: 1997)
  • Society, Action and Space. An Alternative Human Geography. Preface by Anthony Giddens. London: Routledge 1993
  • Zur Ontologie von Gesellschaft und Raum. [On Ontology of Society and Space] Stuttgart: Steiner 1995 (2nd ed: 1999)
  • Globalisierung, Region und Regionalisierung. [Globalization, Region, and Regionalization] Stuttgart: Steiner 1997 (3rd ed. 2017)
  • Sozialgeographie. Eine Einführung. [Social Geography. An Introduction] Bern: Haupt/UTB 2000 (3rd ed. 2008)
  • Ort der Geographie.[ Places of Geography] Stuttgart: Steiner 2010
  • Konstruktion geographischer Wirklichkeiten. [Construction of Geographical Realities]. Stuttgart: Steiner 2010 (2nd edition 2018)
  • Global Sustainability. Cultural Perspectives and Challenges for Transdisciplinary Integrated Research. Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London: Springer 2015
  • Knowledge and Action. Cham/Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London: Springer 2017