Peter-André Alt, who was born in 1960, studied German language and literature, political science, history, and philosophy. He earned a doctorate in 1984 and completed the habilitation process in 1993. Alt has been a tenured professor of modern German literature since 1995, first at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (1995 – 2002), then at the University of Würzburg (2002 – 2005), and since 2005 at Freie Universität Berlin. Research stays took him to Cambridge, Prague, Princeton, and Vienna.
Professor Alt has published 18 monographs and more than 100 papers on the literary and cultural history of the 17th-20th centuries. In 2005 the city of Marbach awarded Professor Alt its Schiller Prize, and in 2008 he received an Opus Magnum grant from the Volkswagen and Thyssen foundations. Since July 2012 Alt has served as president of the German Schiller Society. As a columnist, he regularly writes for German daily newspapers such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Tagesspiegel, and the Berliner Zeitung about current themes pertaining to higher education policy and research policy.
From 2007 to 2009, Professor Alt served as the dean of the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at Freie Universität. From 2007 to 2010 he was a member of the Academic Senate as well as the spokesperson for the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies, which won funding in the German Excellence Initiative for universities.
Professor Alt has been the director of Dahlem Research School since 2008 and since June 3, 2010, the president of Freie Universität Berlin. His second term as president began on June 3, 2014. From 2011 to 2012 and again from 2017 to 2018, he served as chairperson of the Berlin State Rectors’ Conference. He has been and, in some cases still is, a member of numerous national and international advisory councils of major scholarly and cultural organizations, including several in Austria, the USA, and China.