Professor Dr. Astrid M. Eckert

Alfried Krupp Senior Fellow
(October 2023 - July 2024) 

  • Dr. phil. Free University Berlin
  • Professor of History at Emory University, Atlanta
  • Research focus on Modern German history; postwar European history; borderlands; environmental history, especially nature protection and ecology
  • Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers; American Academy Berlin; Immediate Past President of the Central European History Society

Fellow project: "The National Park Program of the Late GDR: Lessons for Nature Protection in Unified Germany and Beyond“

My project explores the shifting approaches to nature protection from the late 1980s into the present. The core example is the National Park Program (NPP) of the late GDR that went into effect shortly before German reunification on October 3, 1990. The NPP created an array of protected areas, covering no less than 4.5 percent of the disappearing state’s territory. I intend to show that the NPP is rooted in East German conservation efforts that go back for decades and culminated in 1990 when the program became an integral part of the East German revolution. I also seek to trace the NPP’s impact on nature protection efforts in unified Germany as well as its reverberations in the post-Soviet sphere where the founders of the NPP became active as consultants. The project is conceived as a contribution to the history of nature protection in Germany that moved from traditional approaches of preserving familiar (cultural) landscapes and species to an emphasis on ecological restoration methods. It also contributes to a re-conception of German unification and the ensuing years of transformation from an environmental historical perspective.