Successful PhD Defense of Maxi Domke

CongraMaxi's Graduation_1tulations Maxi Domke for her successful doctoral thesis defense on “Knowledge Management for Climate Change Adaptation – A Multi-Level Governance Analysis of Environmental Management in Ethiopia “! Her main supervisor, Prof. Pretzsch, said that she completed her doctoral study on a high level.

Maxi’s research aims to discover hindering and favoring factors for communication and knowledge transfer at all administrative levels, with an emphasis on natural resource management activities contributing to adaptation. The rather qualitative work focuses on institutional settings, social capital and social and cultural factors.


In this milestone event, 42 people attended the defense. According to the examination office, it is by far one of the doctoral thesis defenses with the highest attendance in the last few years! Her second and third supervisors from University of Hohenheim (Prof. Volker Hoffmann) and the German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (Prof. Brigitte Kaufmann) as well as one of her colleagues from Sudan, Dr. Tarig, who also completed his doctoral thesis in Tharandt, attended the defense. The hall was filled by proud smiles of her family members, friends, colleagues, and master’s students. The defense was chaired by Prof. Weber from the Chair of Forest Policy and the Economics of Forest Resources.

Maxi Domke was applauded for her ability to capture complex topics and communicate them in a structured way. She was well prepared, as she conducted a test defense a few weeks prior to the defense itself. To do a test defense is also highly recommended for every student: be open minded for feedback!

The discussion part has been an intriguing one. Maxi tackled the questions on participatory research and the scenarios that she has elaborated for the case of area enclosure in Ethiopia in an intelligent manner.

After the defense, a very entertaining “Curiosum” was held. Curiosum is a for-fun quiz for the one defending the thesis from fellow colleagues. The participants had a glimpse of Maxi’s good memories during her time at the institute, particularly during the Welcome to Africa project and the on-going WoodCluster project. Her skills in Amharic language were also challenged.

After the Curiosum, Prof. Pretzsch handed over the legendary hat of the chair. While Hogwarts has the sorting hat, the Chair of Tropical Forestry has the hat of honor! Each PhD students who graduated from the 1970s at the Chair of Tropical Forestry has signed on the hat! As a tradition, the candle on the hat must be lit while being worn.

Dr. Jude Kimengsi, our post-doc, enriched the post-defense celebration with a traditional dance from Cameroon. The dance is practiced in Cameroon to celebrate someone’s achievement. Maxi stood in the middle, while the rest of the people carried a blade of grass and encircled her. Jude, while wearing a traditional costume, led the singing and showed us how to dance to the song. It was an uplifting moment!

To end this special occasion, a very nice barbecue was held at the garden of the institute. It was surely a nice, relaxing way to end today’s virtual journey to Ethiopia!

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