Frank Biermann is research professor of Global Sustainability Governance with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Biermann also chairs the Earth System Governance Project, a global transdisciplinary research network launched in 2009 under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, and since 2015 a part of the international research alliance ‘Future Earth’.
Biermann’s current research examines multilateral institutions, options for reform of the United Nations, global adaptation governance, climate engineering, Sustainable Development Goals, the political role of science, global justice, and conceptual innovations such as the notion of the Anthropocene. He pioneered the ‘earth system governance’ paradigm in global change research in 2005, which yields over 130,000 Google hits today and has led to numerous publications and conferences. Biermann has authored, co-authored or edited 16 books, and published 182 articles in peer-reviewed journals and chapters in academic books, along with more than 100 papers, reports, and contributions to policy-oriented journals. His most recent books are Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene (MIT Press, 2014) and Governing through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance Innovation (MIT Press, 2017). Biermann’s research has been cited over 10,200 times, and his Hirsch-index in Google Scholar is 53. Several of his articles belong to the top-10 most cited papers in their respective journals. Biermann is the co-editor of the Earth System Governance book series with The MIT Press, member of four editorial boards, and reviewer for numerous academic journals. He is frequently invited to governmental commissions and panels and has spoken among others in the United Nations General Assembly, the European Parliament, and the European Economic and Social Committee.
In 2003-2015, Biermann was professor and head of the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam. Towards the end of his term, this department was internationally evaluated as being ‘world leading’ and ‘one of the highest profile academic research groups involved with sustainability governance from around the world’. From 2007-2014, he also directed the Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment, a national alliance of eleven research institutes, over 200 tenured environmental scientists and 600 PhD students that was evaluated in 2014 as a ‘network of excellence’. In 2001-2011, Biermann further led the Global Governance Project, a joint research programme of 12 European institutes with about 40 affiliated researchers. Biermann has also been the initiator and first chair, in 2001, of the Berlin Conferences on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, which have evolved since then into a bi-annual series of widely-attended academic gatherings. Earlier professional or visiting affiliations include the Free University of Berlin, German Advisory Council on Global Change, Harvard University, Humboldt University of Berlin, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (Potsdam), Jawaharlal Nehru University, Lund 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 over two decades of teaching experience in Germany, India, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States. At present, he teaches the course Foundations of Earth System Governance Research in the first term of the MSc Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. Thirteen of his PhD students have graduated so far; four with highest distinction and five winning international awards. Three former PhD students are now full professors.
Biermann has won several scholarships, grants and awards, including the 2017 European Research Council ‘Advanced Grant’, the highest personal award from European institutions, worth 2.5 million EUR; the 2013 Societal Impact Award of VU University Amsterdam for ‘path-breaking research on global environmental policy’; the 2011 Social Science Research Prize of VU University Amsterdam, awarded for ‘outstanding qualities as a top researcher’ and ‘significant contributions’ in the field of global environmental politics; the 1998 Joachim Tiburtius Prize awarded for the best dissertations of the three Berlin universities; a fellowship from Harvard University; and a scholarship from the Talented Students Programme of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Biermann is an elected Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, a group of 700 individuals ‘chosen for eminence in art, the natural and social sciences, and the humanities’.
Biermann holds a Habilitation in Political Science (German postdoctoral academic qualification, 2001), a PhD in Political Science 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.