The University of Göttingen is an internationally renowned research university. Founded in 1737 in the Age of Enlightenment, the University is committed to the values of social responsibility of science, democracy, tolerance, and justice. It offers a comprehensive range of subjects across 13 faculties: in the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and medicine. With over 30,000 students and offering up to 212 degree programs, the University is one of the largest in Germany.
Founded in 1737, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen is a research university of international renown with strong focuses on research-led teaching. The University is distinguished by the rich diversity of its subject spectrum particularly in the humanities, its excellent facilities for the pursuit of scientific research, and the outstanding quality of the areas that define its profile. From 2007 to 2012 Georg-August-Universität Göttingen was rewarded funding from the Initiative of Excellence of the German Federal and State Governments with its institutional strategy for the future entitled “Göttingen. Tradition – Innovation – Autonomy”. The University was able to realize all measures of the concept. Now Göttingen University develops the successfully established measures further to continuously advance the University’s positive developments in research and teaching.
A University with Tradition
The University bears the name of its founder Georg August, King George II of Great Britain, Elector and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, (Hannover). In affinity with the spirit of the Enlightenment, Göttingen abandoned the supremacy of theology and set its faculties on an equal footing. As an academic location, Göttingen was long regarded as the hub of the mathematical world – a position lost, however, in 1933 when under Nazi rule more than 50 professors and lecturers were forced to leave the University, among them several of around 45 Nobel laureates whose names are associated with the city. After the end of World War II, Göttingen University was the first in Germany to resume its teaching operations and it went on to become one the largest higher education institutions in the country.
University as a Foundation
Intensifying the process of internationalization, promoting excellence in research and teaching, adopting Bachelor’s and Master’s degree structures, giving all levels of the University greater autonomy and self-responsibility, optimizing resource allocation: These steps characterize the reforms recently undertaken at the University. At the beginning of 2003, the Georg-August-Universität became the first German university with a comprehensive range of disciplines to assume the legal status of a foundation under public law. The University has since then enhanced its research profile, created new research entities such as the Courant Research Centers and the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, intensified cooperation on the Göttingen Campus, attracted and retained outstanding academics, and supported the recruitment of excellent students and young academics from abroad.
The University of Göttingen regards its great research tradition and subject diversity as constituting particular strengths. Almost all academic disciplines including medicine are represented in the 13 faculties, the exception being engineering sciences. The Georg-August Universität is also distinguished by being closely integrated into a network of first-class extra-university research establishments involving, most prominently, the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, the German Primate Center, the German Aerospace Center, and five Max Planck Institutes. Together, these local partners create with the University an alliance for collaboration in research and teaching arguably unique in the Federal Republic in terms of its depth and breadth.
Successful elements of which include jointly run collaborative research centers, junior research groups, and infrastructure facilities, as well as combined professorial appointments. This cooperation has recently bred outstanding research centers that have won funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Within the scope of the Excellence Initiative, the promotion of the Excellence Cluster „Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CNMPB)“ and the Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences; Biophysics and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB) will be continued in the second program phase.
Due to the positive effect on student instruction and the fostering of young researchers emanating from the neuro- and biosciences in Göttingen, these research focus areas, cultivated together with the University’s institutional partners on the Göttingen campus, play an important part in shaping its profile. Research excellence at the international level is also displayed in chemistry, physics of condensed matter and optics, biodiversity and ecology, geobiology and pure mathematics, as well as in German language and literature studies, oriental and ancient world studies, and theology.
As a result of the integration process of the local research community, possibilities specific to Göttingen have arisen for the attracting and retaining of excellent researchers from both in and outside Germany, and top-quality research activities have been initiated and developed. Likewise, the advancement of exceptionally talented young scholars and scientists is a central strategic aim at the Georg-August-Universität.
Studying with Excellence
Göttingen has many advantages as a location for university studies which the Georg-August-Universität is enhancing by developing innovative degree programs, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree structures, carrying out a systematic internationalization of its study programs, and implementing quality-assurance measures. Approximately 30 000 young people currently study here, some eleven percent of whom are from abroad – a clear demonstration of the pull that the University has long exerted internationally. The range of degree courses on offer stands out both for the outstandingly good study facilities in the natural and life sciences and for the breadth of subject diversity in the humanities and social sciences, a choice found at only a small number of universities in Germany. Such a spectrum of subjects enables overarching issues to be tackled with an interdisciplinary perspective, even at the undergraduate level. With 80 subjects to choose from, some 1,000 combinations are possible on the way to graduation with a Bachelor’s degree.
In its constantly expanding range of Master’s and Ph.D. programs the University cultivates excellence and offers proximity to research. Study programs run in English, bi-national degrees and compulsory periods spent abroad prepare graduates for the international job market. The University of Göttingen’s international position is being further strengthened by the expansion of partnerships. In addition to the close complex of European universities within the framework of the Erasmus Program, numerous cooperations at University, faculty, and institute level facilitate study visits throughout the world, in some cases also making scholarships available.
In 2011 the University of Göttingen was successful with its proposals to further improve the quality of studies and teaching within the framework of the “Quality in Teaching Pact“ of the German federal and state governments. Since then, Göttingen University has been expanding the academic programs it offers and further optimizing the quality of study conditions. These measures will be developed in cooperation with students.
Fostering the Scientists and Scholars of Tomorrow
Doctoral training in Göttingen is concentrated in structured programs based at four Graduate Schools: Georg August University School of Science (GAUSS) – Göttinger Graduiertenschule Gesellschaftswissenschaften (GGG) – Graduiertenschule für Geisteswissenschaften Göttingen (GSGG) – Graduate School Forest and Agricultural Sciences (GFA) (see: www.graduiertenschulen.uni-goettingen.de). The four Graduate Schools provide the organizational superstructure for the research training groups, doctoral programs, and International Max-Planck Research Schools. The aim of these schools is to optimize the research- and learning-conditions for doctoral candidates, offering intensive supervision and a range of seminars designed to advance the training of first-class scientists and scholars. The Göttingen Graduate School of Neuroscience, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences, which operates under the roof of the Georg August University School of Science (GAUSS), gets funds within the Excellence Initiative since 2007. Funded by the German Research Foundation, Research Training Groups (GRK) are set up for a limited period with the aim of promoting young researchers and preparing them for their doctorate. At the International Max Planck Research Schools, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in collaboration with partners at the University is engaged in fostering young scientists and offers especially gifted students from Germany and abroad the opportunity to obtain a doctorate of special distinction.
A World-Class University Library
The founding of the Göttingen University Library in 1734 was a landmark: For the first time in library history the concept of a modern research library was put into practice and the institution became the first comprehensive academic library of European standing. Today, the Göttingen State and University Library of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, SUB) continues to hold a pole position. With over 7.8 million medial units, it is currently one of Germany's largest libraries. The holdings include 5.8 million volumes, 1.5 million microforms, 34,000 electronic magazines under license, 321.000 maps, 14,000 periodicals in print form, 14,000 manuscripts, more than 3,100 incunabula, 400 bequests, and a host of digital items. In addition, there are another 138 independent branch libraries at the institutes and departments. A digital library competence center of worldwide renown, the SUB directs or participates in numerous research and development projects in this domain.
A Mission Statement for Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
In Publica Commoda - For the Good of All reads the inscription on the Foundation Medal of Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Established in the age of the Enlightenment (1737) and committed to its critical spirit, the "Georgia Augusta" was one of Europe's first universities to abandon the supremacy of theology and achieve equality for all faculties. Emphasis on basic research and orientation towards source criticism and experimentation proved to be decisive preconditions for the development of the modern humanities and natural sciences, a development strongly influenced by the Georgia Augusta.
The history of Georg-August-Universität Göttingen has to this day been characterized by scholarly pragmatism and a sense of reality as well as keen awareness for science's societal responsibility. This tradition embraces the contributions of the "Göttinger Sieben" (1837) and those of Max Born, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, who initiated the "Göttinger Erklärung" (1957) calling for the abandonment of nuclear weapons of every description. It is in this tradition that the Georgia Augusta today defines itself and its mission. Remembering the darkest chapter of its history during the period of National Socialism, the University is committed to utilizing its strengths in shaping a humane, tolerant, and peaceful world.
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen recognizes its position within the scientific community where it stands together with the research universities of international significance. Within the areas of research and teaching, study, and further education, the University's aims are
- To preserve traditional perceptions discerningly, to render them usable and, by way of excellent teaching, to hand them on to future generations;
- To gain new knowledge in all disciplines, also across and beyond conventional boundaries;
- To enable all those studying at the University to act with responsibility in their scientific activities, as well as in all fields of cultural, political, and economic life.
In its tradition as a leading university of the Enlightenment, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen is committed to its duty
- To maintain the close alliance of research and teaching for their mutual stimulation;
- To consider in critical reflection the political, social, and commercial interests of the day;
- In so doing, to preserve and defend the University's freedom in research and its independence in scientific teaching.
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen perceives itself as a font of innovation to enrich all spheres of life, regarding it as its task
- To collaborate with other scientific institutions in research and teaching,
- To publicize its research findings and promote their utilization and,
- To contribute to the responsible development of its regional environment.
- Seeks to contribute to the realization of equal opportunities and the overcoming of all gender-related, ethnic, cultural, social, and religious disadvantages that oppose this;
- Is committed to ensuring strict observance of the ethical principles of good scientific practice;
- Informs the general public about the administering of its tasks and strives for open debate on the outcomes of its endeavors.
Aims and Means
On the basis of its achievements in research and teaching, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen seeks to heighten its international reputation by concentrating on its special strengths:
- Internationality - enhancing its ability to attract scientists, scholars, and students from abroad; expansion of international networks and partnerships for fostering research and young scientists
- Research-based teaching and learning - development of research-related study programs and occupationally-orientated training and further education courses, graduate schools, and junior research groups in which young scholars and scientists conduct independent research
- Interdisciplinarity and diversity - intensifying the collaboration between the humanities and the social, natural and life sciences, and preservation of subject diversity in the interests of problem-solving to shape the future
- Autonomy - strengthening the self-responsibility of the University as a Public Law Foundation, including also that of its boards, faculties, and institutions
- Cooperation with non-university institutions - extending and institutionalizing the collaboration with appropriate research establishments in science, commerce, and the community.
The University pledges its commitment to peace and justice in the world. The University and the academics working therein strive to serve peace in the world through research and teaching. In responsibility for society, they undertake to uphold in their actions the intrinsic ethical principles of science and scholarship.
Mission Statement, Göttingen, July 2006, supplemented by the Civil Clause adopted through the resolution of the University Senate, 13 February 2013
Mission Statement for Teaching and Learning
The University of Göttingen has been working to evolve a common understanding of good teaching with the aim of developing an overall concept for Teaching and Learning at the University since March 2017. The discussion of Teaching and Learning at the University of Göttingen involved teachers, students, and individuals from academic administration in a university-wide participative process. On 15th August 2018, the Mission Statement for Teaching and Learning at the University of Göttingen that arose from this process was passed unanimously by the Senate. Internal and external experts from the field of higher education supported and contributed to the development of a common understanding of Teaching and Learning.
A first draft was presented and discussed at the second Future Congress of the University in November 2017. At the end of the 2017/18 winter semester, the draft of the Mission Statement was approved by the Central Commission for Teaching and Learning and the Deans of Studies Council. Then, in the 2018 summer semester, there was a joint meeting involving representatives of the Presidential Board and the Senate, the students, the Deans, and the Deans of Studies, to give the final touches to the Mission Statement.
In recent years, the University of Göttingen has made considerable efforts to improve conditions of study and the quality of teaching, also drawing on support from the projects funded by the Teaching Quality Pact at the University. The Mission Statement for Teaching and Learning now offers teachers and students an important guiding framework and will form a sound basis for the ongoing development of the quality of teaching at the University of Göttingen.
As a research-focused, internationally-renowned university, the University of Göttingen pursues the ideals and educational concept of the Enlightenment. It is committed to the freedom of research and teaching.
The community of teachers and students is driven by intellectual curiosity, a constructive, critical culture of discussion, and participation in higher educational and social issues. Students are encouraged in their personal development and enabled to make intellectually-sound judgments, with the aim of preparing them to function successfully in their future fields of activity. The University of Göttingen prepares its students for responsible positions both within academia and elsewhere.
Teachers engage students in the practice of research as well as current academic debates, and even from an early stage of their studies help them to gain an insight into the research that takes place at the University and the extramural research institutes on Göttingen’s campus. This research-based teaching enables students to generate an intellectual curiosity and joy in learning and to engage critically with their subject. The faculties deliver specialist knowledge and the students acquire crucial methodical, digital, and social skills. They develop problem-solving expertise to cope with specialized, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary issues as well as social challenges at both local and global levels. This provides a first-class basis for developing specific subject-related identities and enables the students for life-long learning.
The University of Göttingen expects students and teachers to have a positive, open, and respectful attitude in the classroom. In accordance with the principles of equal opportunities and fairness, inclusive and flexible learning environments and curricula enable students to contribute their differing experiences and abilities independently and constructively and to develop their knowledge.
The University of Göttingen is facing up global challenges. Students consider specialized subject issues from various perspectives, and these are complemented with international viewpoints. They learn to communicate and act responsibly and respectfully in different contexts. Together with its international partners, the University of Göttingen runs degree programs, offers internationalized curricula, and supports study-related foreign placements.
The University of Göttingen sees itself as a brick-and-mortar university. It uses digital innovations to complement teaching on campus in appropriate ways and to break new ground in didactics. Students and teachers become familiar with the potential of digital media and virtual mobility as a means of networking internationally, as well as of improving the compatibility of studies, career, and private life, and breaking down barriers.
The close interlinking of digitization, internationalization, and diversity orientation, together with research-based teaching, build the foundations for high-quality, successful degree studies at Göttingen’s campus.
The founding motto of the University of Göttingen is “In publica commoda”, or “For the Good of All”. Accordingly, the University of Göttingen sees teaching and learning in the sense of comprehensive education. This also includes social, economic, and ecological aspects of acting for sustainable development. So the motto is a call to teachers and students, to contribute to the common good in social discussions and projects both when studying and teaching and as active citizens.
Committed to the Future
The University of Göttingen is acknowledged to be a research university of high international standing. Its distinctive features include the emphasis placed on research-based teaching and the remarkable diversity of subjects represented, particularly in the humanities. The excellent facilities for scientific inquiry in the natural sciences and the outstanding quality of research in this area also contribute to the University’s clear and unique profile. In 2007, on the basis of its Institutional Strategy entitled "Göttingen. Tradition – Innovation – Autonomy", the Georg-AugustUniversität was one of the universities to emerge successfully in the first phase of the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments. This funding was employed to set up new research centers such as the Courant Centers and the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, and to establish innovative research foci. In addition, highly promising young academics were recruited, and leading researchers integrated on the Göttingen Campus. The measures have led to an overall strengthening of the University’s visibility, both nationally and internationally, and they will be carried forward into the future.
The University bears the name of its founder Georg August, King George II of Great Britain, Elector, and Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover). In keeping with the spirit of the Enlightenment, the faculties were founded as equal entities: no longer did Theology take precedence among them. The first Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences came into being in Göttingen. Over a considerable period, the University was regarded as the center of the mathematical world, but this status was lost in 1933 when under Nazi rule more than 50 professors and lecturers were forced to leave. Among these researchers were several of the 45 Nobel laureates whose names are associated with Göttingen.
After World War II, Göttingen was Germany’s first university to resume teaching operations. It expanded to become one of Germany’s largest, the number of students enrolled currently standing at
approximately 29,300. The University works constantly to enhance the international nature and excellence of its research and teaching. Study programs have been converted to Bachelor and Master's degree structures. The University operates on the basis of increased autonomy and staff self-responsibility at all levels, and the deployment of resources has been optimized. In 2003, Göttingen became Germany’s first university with a comprehensive range of disciplines to take the legal form of a foundation under public law.
In the second phase of the Excellence Initiative, Göttingen University successfully submitted renewal proposals for the support of a Graduate School and an Excellence Cluster. In the Cluster of Excellence »Microscopy at the Nanometer Range and Molecular Physiology of the Brain« (CNMPB), high-resolution microscopy techniques, by way of which minute structures and processes can be analyzed in living nerve cells, are being further developed. The aim is to gain insights that may enable new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to be adopted to combat diseases such as Parkinson’s and schizophrenia. The successful work of the Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences (GGNB) is also being continued. Maintained by four University Faculties, three Max Planck Institutes, and the German Primate Center, the GGNB currently hosts 430 doctoral researchers working within twelve programs.
In addition, the University will continue to pursue projects set out in its second Institutional Strategy. Funding has been raised to bring about marked improvement in the scientific investigation and presentation of the University’s precious academic collections, as well as to expand its IT-based E-research infrastructure.
Research and Research Perspectives
Among Göttingen University’s particular strengths are its great research tradition and the diversity of subjects represented. Almost all academic disciplines, including Medicine but with the exception of the Engineering Sciences, are represented at the 13 Faculties. The University is closely inter-connected with outstanding research institutions situated locally. This network constitutes the Göttin gen Campus, where such cooperation generates ideal framework conditions for conducting top-level, internationally competitive research and opens up special possibilities for the recruitment and retention of excellent researchers from in and outside Germany. The University and its partners place emphasis on fostering talented young researchers who exhibit particular potential.
The success of this cooperation is borne out by the jointly run Collaborative Research Centers, Research Training Groups, shared infrastructure facilities, and combined professorial appointments. Ten Collaborative Research Centers, four Research Units, and ten Research Training Groups with coordinator function are currently hosted by Göttingen University – impressive evidence of the scientific strength of the Göttingen Campus and the close cooperation between the University and the non-university research institutions. The development in the context of Collaborative Research Centers is particularly positive, their number has risen from three (2009) to ten (2015).
Göttingen is therefore a competitive research location in the national comparison, particularly with a view to Research Training Groups, where it ranks as one the top Universities in Germany. Research foci developed together with the nonuniversity research institutions, in particular in the neuro- and biosciences, are defining features in the University’s profile. An Excellence Cluster and a Graduate School in this area were successfully established with funding from the first phase of the Excellence Initiative (2006-2012). The exceptionally innovative work of both entities continues and will be further developed and refined as they move into their next operational phase.
Also exemplifying the excellent science and scholarship being conducted at the international level are the fields of Cardiovascular Research, Molecular Biology, Condensed Matter, Biology, Biodiversity and Ecology, Development Economics, Religious Studies, and Modern East Asian and Indian Studies.