Seminar for Social Geography, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU-SSG), Munich, Germany

The SSG can build on a long tradition in geographic research and teaching. Its reputation is based on significant contributions to geographic theories and studies since 1873.
Comprising currently 5 professors, 14 scientific and 7 non-scientific staff, the SSG is comparatively small. Still a wide range of teaching and research is provided as the staff covers different approaches in research and methodological and theoretical perceptions. Research in the department focuses on human geography, with a special focus on social and urban geography and applied geography. The department specialises in important current issues such as urban and regional development with special emphasis on local and regional governance, economic geography, structural change in retailing, transportation planning, the application of geographic information systems, socio-spatial processes in contemporary society and the impact of knowledge for regional development.
The SSG aims to strongly link research and education: since most SSG researchers are involved in teaching, it is warranted that the students are confronted with the newest developments in geographic research.
Specialisation by topics and having a network of international relations contributes to the department’s distinct image. Many of the lecturers, some of whom have been called from abroad, have intensive research experience and contacts around the world. To enrich the variety of teaching and to exchange different perspecives in research, international visiting professors are invited regularly. Furthermore, the Department is engaged in partnerships with Italian, French, British and Spanish universities.
An important aspect of work in the SSG is the principle that scientific knowledge and analytical and theoretical developments should be linked with the users in society, politics and business. Issues such as district centre planning in suburban communities, strategies for co-operation of German metropolitan regions, and regional development in border areas are relevant not only to geography, but to politics as well. Consequently the results of empirical studies are presented also in non-scientific media and occassions. The orientation at the needs of the users of geographic knowledge also prepared the ground for increasing third-party funds, as the skills and expertise of the SSG staff is highly estimated in the institutional and political environment. Expert opinions on retailing, a preparation analysis for urban renewal processes, and a brochure on Munich as a knowledge based economy are just examples representing a wide range of projects. Vice versa experts from municipalities, real estate businesses, consulting firms etc. are invited to enrich academic discussions and teaching.