Prof. Dr. Hartmut Elsenhans 1941-2024: An EMGS Student Appreciation

The passing of Emeritus Prof. Dr. Hartmut Elsenhans is profoundly sad news for the hundreds of his former students at Erasmus Mundus Global Studies.

EMGS students will have taken Prof. Elsenhans courses at the University of Leipzig from the programme’s inception in 2006 until his untimely passing this year. He taught global political economy, world systems theory, social movements, and the political economy of the EU.

Anyone who enrolled in Prof. Elsenhans’ courses immediately recognised they had signed up for something different. His unique approach was to teach his own theories within the courses, challenging you to understand his views on world history. He was a brilliant tutor, with vast knowledge backed up with field research over decades across Africa and Asia. He was brimming to share that knowledge and experiences with students, and embodied a spirit of openness, cultural understanding, and commitment to the less fortunate. It made him fitting for EMGS.

I fondly remember him giving a cheeky smile when answering your point of view, remaining sensitive and sharp to when you understood him, and doing it with a sense of fun.

Despite his status, he revelled in his bumbling emeritus professor persona among students, riding 30 minutes to class on his bicycle until his late 70s, for the entirety of the class wearing one of his suspenders down to his forearm, and always accompanied by his legendary 1.5L of coke, sugar-free and supermarket brand. The more you got to know him, the more you appreciated someone truly authentic. A tutor who had written journal articles on typewriters from the 1970s onwards while being able to adapt within days to online teaching from home during lockdown.

He was warm-hearted and committed to his students, diligently giving feedback, writing recommendation letters and making connections for them. He enjoyed playing host to an annual summer BBQ at his home where students would be given a tour of his mammoth basement library. Until his final days, he was researching, publishing and teaching. As an example of his commitment to students, when he was struck by illness, his main concern was that his students would not receive their grades.

EMGS has lost in Prof. Hartmut Elsenhans’ passing a proud advocate of global connections, an inspirational teacher, and a committed friend.


Neil Wilcock EMGS Graduate (2010-2012)

Co-author with fellow EMGS graduate Corina Scholz: “Hartmut Elsenhans and a Critique of Capitalism: Conversations on Theory and Policy Implications” (2016) and occupying interviews

A memorial page is available at the following link: