The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2024 goes to Jörn Leonhard

Date Published: 09.02.2024

Jörn Leonhard, Professor of History at the University of Freiburg and our Honorary Fellow, is honoured for his work in the field of European and transatlantic cultural and political history of the 19th and early 20th century.

The two awards I am most proud of are the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize – and my election to an Honorary Fellowship by Wadham.

Professor Dr Jörn Leonhard

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz award, which is endowed with 2.5 million euros, is considered the most important research funding prize in Germany. Professor Leonhard is one of a total of ten prizewinners selected by the selection committee from 150 proposals.

Wadham's Honorary Fellow, Professor Leonhard, was our DAAD Fellow and Tutor in Modern History 1998-2023. He describes his time at the College as follows:

My time at Wadham was absolutely fundamental for my research: I came with a background in comparative European History and a PhD on the historical semantics of 19th century “liberalism” in France, Britain, Germany and Italy. In Wadham I could develop my second major theme (then leading to a second major monograph which I submitted for a German Habilitation): the relation between war and nation-building from the 1750s to 1914 in Europe and the US – and I profited so incredibly from the large faculty, numerous colleagues, post-docs, and the excellent networks between Oxford and the US. I also started a third major theme in Wadham: multiethnic empires and nation states in the 19th and early 20th centuries, again much stimulated by Oxford colleagues, graduates and postdocs. Throughout my time I really took a lot from the “critical mass” of excellent people, their methods, approaches and experience, especially since I further developed my methods of comparison, transfer and entanglement applied to European and Global History in the 19th and 20th centuries.

But what really made my time at Wadham unique, was the College community... Although I had only just completed my PhD when I arrived in the front quad in September 2003 to move in my beloved staircase, I was at once accepted as a serious historian, and I got the perfect balance between stimulation, soft pressure and huge confidence – that proved to be vital, because it meant liberty to explore my own themes.

The Leibniz Prize was established by the German Research Foundation in 1985. It is named after the German polymath and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716).

Many congratulations to Professor Leonhard on this achievement.