Ulrike Müller-Böker

Ulrike Müller-Böker, Prof. Dr.

Full Professor of Human Geography until 2019

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müller-Böker was Full Professor of Geography, especially Human Geography since 1996. She focused on social disparities in developing countries, particularly in South Asia. With her international research team, she investigated which institutions, policies and development interventions are useful for improving the livelihoods of poor people. She established sustainable North-South research partnerships and attached great importance to the dialogue with politics and practice.

Area of specialization

Within the broad field of Human Geography I contribute to enhance the knowledge about the institutional dimension of livelihood strategies; local resource-use conflicts; labour migration patterns and migration industry; societal participation processes focusing on South Asia and Switzerland.

Employment and education


2002 – 2019                    Full Professor (Ordinaria) of Geography at Zurich-University (Human Geography)

1996  – 2019                        Head of Human Geography Unit

1996 – 2002                          Associate Professor (Extraordinaria) of Geography at Zurich University

1989 – 1996                          Senior Scientist at Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Dept. of Geography

1985 – 1988                           Postdoctoral fellow at the Nepal Research Program of the German Research Council

1979 – 1985                           Assistant and research associate at Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Dept. of Geography


1993                                       Habilitation in Geography

1983                                       PhD (Dr. phil.) in Geography

1978                                       M.A. in Geography

1973 – 1978                           Studies in Geography, Social Anthropology and Sociology at Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen / Germany

Academic positions at UZH


Since 2016              Director: Graduate Campus of the University of Zurich


2012 – 2013             Dean of Studies: Faculty of Science (per interim)


2010 – 2012             Deputy Director of the Department of Geography


2006 – 2010             Director of the Department of Geography


2006 – 2010             Directing board of MNF

                                 Planning commission of MNF


2004 – 2006             Deputy Director of the Department of Geography

Institutional responsibilities and professional service


2015 – 2018             President: Gender Commission of Faculty of Science

2013 – 2016             Advisory Board: MNF-project ‘Gender equality in professorial appointments’

2008 – 2016            Steering Committee member: North South Partnerships UZH

2004 – 2016            University Commission member: International Relationships

2009 – 2011             Committee: Gender Studies UZH

2000 – 2003             Committee Member: Public Relations, MNF

1999 – 2003             President: MNF-Commission: Promotion of Young Researchers, University of Zurich

Research centres and programs

Since 2012              Executive Committee: Centre for Human Rights Studies, University of Zurich

2005 - 2017             Participating professor: University of Zurich Priority Research Program (UFSP): Asia and Europe

2001 – 2013            BoD: National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South

2005 – 2009            Executive Committee member: University of Zurich Priority Research Program (UFSP): Asia and Europe

Scientific boards

Since 2015               Scientific Committee member: Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS)

2014 – 2016             Scientific Advisory Board: Institute of Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences

2000 – 2008             Swiss UNESCO commission, domaines sciences naturelles

Graduate schools and mentoring

2010 – 2018           BoD: International (interuniversity) Graduate School North-South

2010 – 2017             Study commission member: Doctoral Program UFSP Asia and Europe

2006 – 2010             Director: Zurich Graduate School in Geography

2001 – 2004             Adviser: Geo-Vip - promotion of the career of female young researchers


Network affiliations

Since 2017               Council: UZH Alumni

Since 2011               Corresponding member: Austrian Academy of Science

Since 2011               Member: AcademiaNet

2001 – 2018          President (2001 – 2004), Vice-President (since 2004), honorary member: Geographic Ethnographic Society of Zurich

2013 – 2017             Council: Zürcher Universitätsverein (ZUNIV)

2010 – 2013             Council (treasurer): European Association of South-Asian Studies

1999 – 2002             Advisory Board: Interacadémique Commission de Recherche Alpine (ICAS)

Approved research projects

·      “The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Switzerland and its post-war forms of engagement in Sri Lanka”, SNSF (2017– 2019)

·      “Employment Fund Nepal, Qualitative Impact Study Study”, Dept. of Geography, RIDA, U. Müller-Böker (lead), Helvetas (2015 – 2016)

·       “Recruitment agencies in Nepal”, SDC (2013 – 2015)

·      Thematic Node “Institutions, livelihoods and conflicts”, DSGZ, SwissPeace, U. Müller-Böker (lead), National Centre of Competence in North-South (2009 – 2013)

·      “Negotiating rural development in South Asia’s periphery”, U. Müller-Böker. ProDoc SNSF (2008- 2011)

·      Work Package “Livelihood options and globalisation”, DSGZ, Laboratoire de Sociologie Urbaine (EPFL), U. Müller-Böker (lead); National Centre of Competence in North-South (2005 – 2009)

·       Individual Project “Institutional Change and Livelihood Strategies“, DSGZ, NADEL, Social Anthropology (UZH), U. Müller-Böker (lead); National Centre of Competence in North-South (2001 – 2005)

·       “The Power of Images – their Creation, Reproduction and Strategic Use in the Shaping of Alpine Future”, N. Backhaus & U. Müller-Böker, NRP 48, SNFS (2002 – 2005)

·      “Combining River Flood Protection and Nature Protection in Switzerland: Negotiating Institutional Change between the Logic of Planning and Societal Praxis”, U. Geiser & U. Müller-Böker (collaborators), EAWAG / WSL (2002 – 2006) 

·       “People and Resource Dynamics in Mountain Watersheds of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, scientific backstopping in the field of socio-economic issues in natural resource management”, U. Müller-Böker & M. Kollmair, ICIMOD (2002 – 2005)

·      “Searching Institutional Regulations for Sustainable Water Use in India and Switzerland”, U. Geiser & U. Müller-Böker, SNFS (1999 – 2002)

·       “Nature and Society: Concepts of Nature exemplified by the Protected Areas of Nepal”, SNFS (1998 – 2001)


Teaching and supervision

Since 1996 responsible for and involved in the teaching program at Bachelor, Master and Doctorate level.

Supervised PhD Theses: 25 (completed), 8 (ongoing)

Supervised Master’s Theses: 225 (completed) 


Regular reviews for scientific journals, scientific board Geographica Helvetica and Erdkunde, editorial board Journal of Development Policy, Research and Practice, Pakistan, research councils and institutions (e.g. SNSF, DFG, RCN, ETHZ, VW-foundation, NGS, SNIS), appointment procedures (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, UK, Thailand, USA, Singapore), habilitations and promotions.