Jürgen Osterhammel is a Distinguished Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), from 2019 to 2023. He was a senior lecturer in political science at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität (1986-1990) and a professor of modern and contemporary history at the FernUniversität (Open University) Hagen, The Graduate Institute (Geneva) and, from 1999, the University of Konstanz. He retired in 2018. He received his doctorate from the University of Kassel (1980) and his Habilitation from the University of Freiburg (1990). In 2018, the European University Institute (Florence) awarded him an honorary doctorate. In the same year, he was admitted to the Order Pour le Mérite (the German Order of Merit). He is a member of the academies of science in Halle (Leopoldina), Berlin, Vienna and Torino and also of the British Academy and the Academia Europaea. His awards include the Leibniz-Preis (2010), the Sigmund-Freud-Preis of the German Academy for Language and Literature (2014), the Toynbee Prize (2017) and the Balzan Prize (2018).
Osterhammel began as a historian of both modern China and the British Empire. He also taught the history and theory of international relations. As a pupil and collaborator of historians Ernst Schulin (1929-2017) and Wolfgang J. Mommsen (1930-2004), he developed an interest in comparative and world history and became one of the pioneers of global history in Germany. His work in that mode culminated in an analytical world history of the nineteenth century (2009) that has been translated into several languages. He has also worked on the Enlightenment, on the social history of music and, most recently, on the history of the global public sphere (Weltöffentlichkeit).