Professor Dr. Ludger Kühnhardt has been Director at the Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI) since October 1, 1997 and is in charge of ZEI's political and cultural research program. He is also a Professor at the Institute for Political Science and Sociology at the University of Bonn. Prof. Kühnhardt's main research specializes in issues of the European Integration, the global comparison of regional integration systems as well as in topics that concern political theory and philosophy.
After highschool graduation Kühnhardt started a journalistic career which included extensive study tours through Asia and Africa. He worked for print media and radio stations and was author of several documentary films for German television. In 1977 he received the German Catholic Journalist Award.
Kühnhardt studied history, political science and philosophy in Bonn, Geneva, Harvard and Tokyo. He received his Ph.D. in 1983 and habilitated in 1986, both times specializing in political science at the University of Bonn. Between 1985 and 1987 Kühnhardt worked as a research assistant for Prof. Dr. Drs. h.c. Karl Dietrich Bracher at the Institute for Political Science at the University of Bonn. From 1987 to 1989 he worked as speechwriter for the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker. Kühnhardt was chair for Political Science at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg between 1991 and 1997. In 1994-1995 he served as Dean of the Philosophical Faculty at that University. He was Visiting Professor at the Universities of Jena, Capetown, at the College of Europe (Collège d’Europe) in Bruges, at ASERI - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan (since 1997), at Dartmouth College (New Hampshire), at the Diplomatic Academy Vienna (since 2002), at Stanford University, at Seoul National University, at the Diplomatic Academy of Mediterranean Studies (MEDAC), Malta (since 2007) and at St Antony’s College Oxford. He worked as a visiting scholar at St Antony's College Oxford, the Institute for Human Science, Vienna, at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and as Public-Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C.
In 2004 he was awarded the European Science Prize of the European Cultural Foundation.
Prof. Kühnhardt is a member of the German Society for Foreign Policy and the "Goerres Society". He serves as a corresponding member of the Collegium Europaeum Jenense, as a member on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute of International Relations in Warsaw, as a member on the Advisory Board for European Questions of the German Bishops' Conference, on the Advisory Board for European Studies in Asia of the Asia-Europe Foundation (Singapur) and on the scientific Advisory Board of the West African Institute (Praia).
After German unification, he has been actively involved in the German Christian Democratic Union's Program Commission. Between 1998 and 2000, Kühnhardt was a member of the Europe-wide Independent Commission for the Comprehensive Review of the Institutions and Procedures of the Union (ICRI). From 1998 until 2003 he worked as an adviser for several governments of EU candidate countries in Central and Southeastern Europe. Between 2002 and 2005 he supported the scientific development of the Bulgarian-Romanian Interuniversity Europe Centre (BRIE) in Rousse (Bulgaria).