The purpose of the University of Konstanz’s institutional strategy "Modell Konstanz" was to enhance our profile as a leading centre for top-level research. A "Culture of Creativity" is our university’s guiding principle, which encompasses its number of goals that focus on: promoting top-level research and junior researchers; enhancing the framework conditions for top-level research, that is "institutional creativity", which in turn includes equal opportunity and family-friendly practices as well as engaging the public in dialogue. Two of these objectives are equally important and complementary: To profile innovative research areas and to promote creative and high-performing researchers.
By placing very well in many rankings and receiving significant external funding, the University of Konstanz, founded as a reform university, has been able to demonstrate its exceptional quality and excellence in research and teaching. The main focus of our institutional strategy is to promote conditions that support top-level research, which in turn will advance the university’s "culture of creativity". It deals with fundamentally strengthening the university's research fields and the requisite instruments. The Clusters of Excellence and the Graduate Schools, both supported by the third funding line of the Excellence Initiative, complement each other through a conceptual link, with the goal of developing the entire university into a European centre for world-class researchers. The flexible and science-promoting structures, as well as the creative, partnership-fostering spirit lived by all university members create the basis for this process. The long-term planning for the "Modell Konstanz" as a culture of creativity has shown that working conditions must be adapted to fit individual needs. This is essential for fostering new ideas in top-level research.
All services and measures deriving from the implementation of our institutional strategy were embedded within the scope of the university's overall strategy - just like the Cluster of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Integration" and the Konstanz Research School Chemical Biology from the first phase of the Excellence Initiative. With this overall strategy, the University of Konstanz has succeeded in enhancing its research profile and strengthening its leading position as a research-intensive university both nationally and internationally.
The University of Konstanz has connected the following components under our guiding principle of "Modell Konstanz - Towards a Culture of Creativity” for the purpose of developing a trend-setting structural concept:
1. Research initiatives, infrastructural and networking platforms
Research initiatives serve to initiate externally funded collaborative research projects. Research initiatives are established for a term of two years to allow researchers to work together across the boundaries of their respective subjects and within the scope of a cross-disciplinary and scientifically excellent research programme. At the same time, they expand the university‘s research profile by opening up new research fields.
Technical and structural requirements will initiate multidisciplinary research projects via infrastructural platforms. The resultant technology centres will support new collaborative research projects and are available to all researchers. The close integration and use of infrastructural platforms, available also for teaching purposes, has facilitated the expansion of research-oriented teaching at the university.
Networking platforms serve to intensify the scientific exchange with external partners with the goal of carrying out collaborative projects and producing joint publications. The networks promote a dialogue by, for example, financing workshops and research trips.
Transfer platforms support fixed-term and application-oriented research projects run by one or more researchers in cooperation with commercial partners, public institutions or associations. In return, the University of Konstanz receives offers for joint-ownership of patents.
2. Creative space
The “Creative Space” programme provides excellent researchers the opportunity to advance their research projects by releasing them from their independent academic self-administration duties and reducing their teaching workload. Providing “creative space” is an efficient means to allow researchers to increase their research intensity, pursue new research areas and develop more extensive collaborative research projects.
The University of Konstanz compensates for the reduction of the teaching workload by hiring qualified international substitutes or tandem partners in order to provide additional courses - especially courses taught in English.
The Zukunftskolleg is a unique institution in Germany. It represents a crucial component in the university’s strategy to promote junior researchers.
It offers outstanding junior researchers of all disciplines a creative and stimulating environment for research. It brings junior and senior researchers together in an interdisciplinary, international and cross-generational community and so creates a strong network of scientific know-how and cross-disciplinary discussion. At the same time, it provides them with the required institutional and scientific infrastructure.
The Zukunftskolleg awards post-doctoral positions to junior researchers who have already made contributions to their field of study and whose projects have extraordinary potential. With its concept, the Zukunftskolleg has already established itself as a new and complementary scientific career path, which will provide its fellows perspectives at the best international research and teaching institutions. In this way it has had a capacity-building impact on the entire university.
You can find additional information on the website of the Zukunftskolleg.
4. Junior professors, junior research groups, Young Scholar Fund
The University of Konstanz offers its junior researchers various measures of support that take their individual needs and the wide variety of career paths into account. The Konstanz “Code of Practice for Academics between Doctoral Studies and Professorship” defines the formal status and rights of junior researchers in the post-doctoral phase and commits the university to standards in relation to transparency of evaluation criteria, advice and mentoring services, equal opportunity, promoting families, representation of interests, support structures and visibility.
The measures aimed at promoting junior researchers at the University of Konstanz are characterised in particular by the close networking of the various models. The University of Konstanz was one of the first universities in Germany to establish junior professorships, which are increasingly being provided with tenure-track options.
To facilitate the transition from junior researcher to the first professorship, the university has created “transitional positions” .
Furthermore, the University of Konstanz started the Young Scholar Fund in order to support junior researchers in developing their own research projects.
The University of Konstanz intends to increase its international reputation and its attractivity for excellent academics and researchers. Outstanding research conditions at the university as well as constructive competition and enhanced cooperation with the world's best universities and research institutions should help realise these goals. For this purpose, the university will intensify its international outreach and enhance its international presence. In support of these aims, the university has installed an “International Advisory Board” comprised of international members.
At the same time, the university has commissioned its International Office to further develop international partnerships, exchange programmes and student exchanges. Furthermore, its cooperation with the academic departments will be intensified. The internationalisation strategy of the University of Konstanz is to be instituted on all levels. We have successfully expanded the international network of partner universities.
We are creating a network of research-strong universities through the foundation of the “Global Alliance”, whose members share similar research priorities and have complementary institutional structures. These collaborations will address and include joint research projects, joint applications for international research funds, joint doctoral candidate training, compatible study programmes and mutually facilitating student exchanges as well as cooperation between the universities’ service facilities.
In order to intensify the internationalisation strategy, the university has created the position of Vice-rector for International Affairs. Additionally, the amount of double degree programmes is steadily increasing and we support the international mobility of our students through the “study abroad” campaign.
6. Support services
Our central support services lay the foundation for the research-oriented working environment that makes it possible for researchers to focus on their research and teaching. At the same time, the service measures support the career development of our academics and researchers.
The establishment of the Academic Staff Development unit has significantly enhanced our staff development and career support services.
The Research Support office provides support and practical assistance to researchers in preparing applications for both external and university funding.
Our Communications, Information, Media Centre (KIM) is the central service unit that interlinks the IT services with the library services of the university in the areas of information supply and transfer as well as the use of media in teaching and research management.
7. Quality Management (QM)
The Quality Management office is responsible for planning, implementing, evaluating and supervising initiatives or processes as well as their further development. The overall aim is to improve both university management and the quality of university services through the planning and monitoring of the aforementioned processes. As part of the evaluations, it first carries out analyses of strengths and weaknesses and based on the results, then initiates the necessary change processes.
8. Equal opportunity and family affairs
One of the most important goals of the institutional strategy to promote top-level research is to ensure that equal opportunity and family-friendliness, with an overall focus on promoting diversity , are consistently included in all decision-making processes at all levels of the university. With our Code of Practice on Gender Equality, the university has been certified as a family-friendly university. We have committed ourselves to create structures that can easily integrate academic and research careers with family life.
In the statement by the German Research Foundation (DFG) on the realisation of "research-oriented equal opportunity standards", the innovative measures of the University of Konstanz have reached the highest category, equal to optimal implementation (Level 4). The DFB particularly emphasized the university’s comprehensive strategy, its management's explicit commitment to the strategy, the clearly delegated responsibilities as well as the our quantifiable successes of our university.
You can find further information on the website of the Office for Equal Opportunity and Family Affairs.
9. Marketing, fundraising, science communication
The University of Konstanz has bundled its fundraising efforts along with its national and international marketing activities and its science communications into the new staff unit “Communications and Marketing” in order to increase operational effectiveness. A profile-building marketing and communications strategy integrates the areas of public and media relations, alumni relations, event and conference management, the Konstanzer Wissenschaftsforum (Konstanz Science Forum) as well as all marketing activities, internal and international communication, internet, foundation and fundraising activities. In the competition to secure funding for research, the University of Konstanz combines scientific accomplishments and successes with the feedback from public and stakeholder groups. An important aspect is the high level of trust that the public as well as the internal and external target audiences have in the University of Konstanz and its achievements.
As a result of the new fundraising strategies, the university has been able to receive significant funding for various projects. This includes, among other things, millions of euros in support for Konstanz-based photovoltaic research, the acquisition of three million euros for the "Hector-Personalfonds der Universität Konstanz", with funding commitments for appointment and tenure negotiations, salary incentives for exceptional performance and the establishment of tenure-track positions. Other projects include the recently established "Konstanzer Stipendienfonds” (Konstanz Scholarship Fund), which directly supports students through sponsorships and individual donations.
During the first phase of the Excellence Initiative, the University of Konstanz established Event and Conference Management to provide services that range from organisational support to the full organisation of events. Through its services, university events are carried out in a professional manner and valuable research staff resources are conserved.
The Alumni Office optimises alumni relations at the University of Konstanz. It aims to integrate new and current members through innovative measures, with a particular focus on current students ("bonding from the 1st semester onwards"). Alumni clubs have been established in China, Poland, and Romania, with more being prepared.
The Konstanz Science Forum is a regional and national dialogue partner in regards to important questions about science, research and university education. It provides a platform for knowledge transfer and science communications at the interface of politics, economics and society. It fosters debates about important future topics for science and research through meetings, workshops and lectures. Even within the university, the Konstanz Science Forum has become a sought-after conversation partner on the topics of university development and university identity.