Helga Leitner

I received my Ph.D. in geography and urban and regional planning from the University of Vienna, where I taught in the geography and planning program until I came to the University of Minnesota in 1985. In my recent research projects I have continued to pursue long standing interests in international migration/immigration, urban development, and urban landscapes, but also have embarked on new areas, such as GIS and society. My regional interests are closely linked to regions I have lived in and thus have familiarity with; namely Europe, the US and Indonesia.

Throughout my career I have been attracted to interdisciplinary research at the conceptual and practical level. In my research I have drawn from theories in economics, political science, sociology and anthropology. However the major goal has always been to not just use theoretical concepts developed in other disciplines, but bring a geographic perspective to them. I have attempted to demonstrate to my colleagues in other disciplines the importance of space, place and scale in understanding and explaining the social, economic, cultural and political phenomena which they study. A major concern in all of my research endeavors has been to address socially relevant issues and explore them from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective. Theoretical and empirical work, in particular fieldwork, are inseparable facets of my research. Field research provides an important testing ground for theoretical concepts, and supplies insights that aid me in conceptualizing a phenomenon or process.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

Curriculum Vitae


  • Austria
  • European Union
  • Europe
  • European cities
  • new immigrants
  • immigrant incorporation and polictics in Minnesota
  • utility of GIS for community organizations and neighborhood revitalization
  • United States
  • urban and regional development
  • transnationalism, multiculturalism and immigrant incorporation
  • immigration policies and citizenship
  • globalization and international migration
  • environmental equity and justice
Courses Taught
  • Geog 3381 - Population in an Interacting World
  • Geog 8980 - Contested urban futures
  • Geog 8002 - Research methods in geography
  • Geog 5900 - Transnational migration and the politics of immigration
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Member: Executive Committee of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Migration , 2000 - 2001
  • Member: CLA Promotion and Tenure Committee, University of Minnesota , 2000 - 2001
  • Editorial Board: Political Geography , 1994 - 2001
  • Editorial Board: Urban Geography , 1992 -
  • Editorial Board: Antipode , 1992 - 2000
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies: Institute for Global Studies , 1999 - 2001
  • Director of Graduate Studies: Department of Geography, University of Minnesota , 1995 - 1998
  • Co-chair: CLA International Studies Task Force, University of Minnesota
  • Chair: Human Geography Search Committee, Department of Geography, U of M , 2003
  • Chair: Graduate Educational Policy Committee , 2000 - 2001
  • Chair: Gender and Women Studies Awards Committee, Association of American Geographers , 2001 - 2002
  • Chair: Urban Geography Specialty Group, Association of American Geographers , 1998 - 2000
  • Associated Faculty: MacArthur Interdisciplinary Program on Global Change, Sustainability and Justice , 1998 -


  • Immigrant experience and immigrant-host society relations in small town Minnesota: Investigation of the immigrant experience and immigrant-host society relations in small town Minnesota, 2001 - 2005
  • Transnationalism and the meaning of citizenship: Examination of the attitudes of immigrants in Minnesota and Germany towards acquisition of citizenship of their country of residence and transnational practices of citizenship, 2002 - 2005
  • Contested urban futures: Global neoliberalism and its discontent: Book project on neoliberal urban governance and various forms of contestations in cities of the Global North and South, 2003 - 2006


  • Migration and citizenship in a globalizing world: public lecture and discussion, Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, 2004
  • GIS in neighborhood planning: workshops in a number of neighborhood organizations, 2000
  • Collaboration with Phillips Neighborhood Organization: development of an environmental inventory for Phillips neighborhood, 2000 - 2001
  • Coexistence in Lake Wobegon? Immigrants in small town Minnesota: public lecture and discussion, Coexistence Forum Downtown Minneapolis, One Financial Plaza, 2004
  • GIS and community based planning: Exploring neighborhood perspectives and needs. Leitner, Helga, S. Elwood, 1998.
  • Networks, Governance and the Politics of Scale: Inter-urban networks and the European Union. Leitner, Helga, Leitner, H., Pavlik, C. and Sheppard, E., 2002.
  • GIS-based environmental equity and risk assessment: Methodological problems and prospects. Leitner, Helga, McMaster, R., Leitner, H. and Sheppard, E., 1997.
  • GIS and Spatial Knowledge Production for Neighborhood Revitalization: Negotiating State Priorities and Neighborhood Visions. Leitner, Helga, Elwood, S. and Leitner, H., 2003.
  • Unbounding critical geographic research on cities: The 1990s and beyond. Leitner, Helga, Leitner, H. and Sheppard, E., 2003.
  • The politics of scale and networks of spatial connectivity: Transnational inter-urban networks and the rescaling of political governance in Europe. Leitner, Helga, 2003.
  • The political economy of international labor migration. Leitner, Helga, 2000.
  • Models for making GIS available to community organizations: Dimensions of difference and appropriateness. Leitner, Helga, Leitner, H., Elwood, S., Sheppard, E., McMaster, R., McMaster, S., In Public Participation GIS, W. Craig, T. Harries and D. Weiner (eds.), London: Taylor and Francis: 37-52, 2002.
  • Die Stadt ist tot, es lebe das Netz – Harnessing European inter-urban networks for a neoliberal urban agenda. Leitner, Helga, Leitner, H. and Sheppard, E., 2002.
  • Beyond national citizenship: Turkish immigrants and the (re)construction of citizenship in Germany. Leitner, Helga, Ehrkamp, P. and Leitner, H, 2003.