In memoriam: Fritz Albert
September 18, 2012
Fritz Albert, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus of agricultural journalism and a noted documentary filmmaker and photographer, died Sept. 16 at the age of 90.
A dedicated ambassador of the Wisconsin Idea, Albert played an important role in establishing and increasing the prominence of the Land Tenure Center, now part of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
Established in 1962, the Land Tenure Center created programs focused on place-based, interdisciplinary approaches to land use across South and Central America. It later added programs in Africa and Asia. The center has evolved to focus on resources and ecosystem services that are increasingly important to vulnerable communities whose burdens increase when land is degraded.
Albert joined the staff of the UW-Madison Department of Agricultural Journalism—now Life Sciences Communication—in 1954, the year he arrived from his native Germany. Over the next 35 years he produced more than 100 films on agriculture, natural resources and rural development, many of which won awards in international competitions.
His topics ranged from how-to farming advice to explanations of agricultural and land use policies. In the 1960s and 70s he produced 12 films on tenure and agrarian structure in Latin America that were shown in classrooms in a number of universities, including Harvard, Stanford and the London School of Economics.
In 1984, Albert earned the Cross of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany for his efforts to promote understanding between Germany and the United States.