Key Topics

Democracy Research

The research focus Democracy Studies, led by Political Science, analyses democratic structures and processes in politics, society, the economy and the environment and builds on the successes of the inter-school "Centre for the Study of Democracy" (ZDEMO). Core topics are questions of legitimacy and performance of democracies, which are threatened in their integrative power especially against the background of the recent upheavals in politics and society. These questions follow on from the profile focus "Transformation as an epochal signature of the 21st century". The tension between legitimacy and performance is evident in three main areas on which the research focuses: on a macro level, the focus is on the civic foundations of democracy - on values, attitudes and behaviour as prerequisites for the viability of democratic institutions. On a meso level, formal and informal institutional frameworks are explored, as well as their influence on the performance of party governments. This includes questions of institutional reform and change. Finally, at a micro level, the question is explored of how the interaction between civil society and institutions is implemented in specific policy fields (e.g. environmental policy) and how emerging conflicts are democratically regulated.

Law in the Context of Social Transformation

The research focus Law in the Context of Societal Transformation, led by the Department of Law, is concerned with the development of a transnationally oriented legal science that also turns to the social sciences, empiricism and practice in order to find answers and solutions to societal challenges. Leuphana Law School has built up an interdisciplinary and international research profile that focuses in particular on the regulation of society and economy under the conditions of globalisation as well as on the interrelationships of law and social transformation. This orientation was assessed as trend-setting in the last evaluation of the Scientific Commission of Lower Saxony (WKN) of the subject of law in 2015. Within this framework, the Joachim Herz Doctoral School for Law was recently established.

Evidence-based Policy Research

In the research area "Evidence-based Policy Research" under the leadership of economics, the focus is on the feedback between "theory and empirical evidence" (e.g. forecasts of effects), "implementation of measures" (institutional process and design) and "evaluation of measures" (e.g. effect, side effects, need for reform). Although evidence-based policy is mostly associated with state action, evidence-based action and the understanding of scientific evidence is relevant in many areas of society and its transformation processes.

Research Projects

An overview of the research projects conducted at the School of Public Affairs can be found in our research database.

School of Public Affairs



  • Prof. Dr. Axel Halfmeier, LL.M. (Michigan)

Dean of Research

  • Prof. Dr. Mario Mechtel