Profile of the University of Konstanz

Since its foundation in 1966, top-level research, excellence in teaching and studies, internationality and interdisciplinary collaboration have been special characteristics of our university. This distinctive orientation soon led to the development of a profile that stands out through its high level of quality, innovation, creativity and commitment to the enjoyment of research. The “success story of the University of Konstanz” (Lord Dahrendorf, 2006) that has been written since 1966 is based on the themes of modernisation and reform from within, which is lived by all of our members. Since 2007, the University of Konstanz has been successful in the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments with its institutional strategy "Model Konstanz - Towards a Culture of Creativity”. This strategy focuses on developing our strengths and innovative concepts and ideas. Our university is one of eleven universities in Germany whose “Institutional Strategy to Promote Top-Level Research” is funded by the German state. The very first submission for the first Excellent Initiative call for proposals in 2006, our Cluster of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Social Integration" was approved. Shortly thereafter in 2007, our Research School Chemical Biology was accepted into the Excellent Initiative. During the second phase of the Excellence Initiative, we were able to further enhance our profile with the funding of the Graduate School of Decision Sciences.

Close dialogue and short distances

The University of Konstanz is a campus university with short distances to cover. Flat hierarchies and structures within the university promote flexibility and interdisciplinary cooperation within the administration and the thirteen departments. The departments are distributed in three faculties: the Faculty of Sciences, the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Politics - Law - Economics. Close dialogue and effective communication drive the living culture of creativity on all levels.

The advantages of our university, as formulated in the foundation report, include:

  • diversity, communication and integration
  • the promotion of young researchers and
  • flexible and adaptable structures as the basis for international top-level research

Excellent top-level research

Research at our university strengthens its profile through cooperation and collaboration across subjects, departments and faculties. Here too, our flat hierarchies and faculty structures promote the close interdisciplinary cooperation. Another unique feature is the performance-based allocation of resources through our Committee on Research (AFF) along with a comparatively modest basic funding for our professorships.

We succeeded in sharpening our research profile during the 1st funding phase of the Excellence Initiative.The strategic steering of the institutional strategy and our deliberate concentration on further Excellence Initiative projects have enhanced the development process of our profile: our Cluster of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Social Integration" was approved in the very first round of the Excellence Initiative in 2006. Then in October 2007, both our Institutional Strategy and our Graduate School Chemical Biology were accepted.

A further focal point set during the first funding phase is the Graduate School of Decision Sciences. Our two measures “research initiatives” and “freedoms for creativity” were instrumental in realising this objective. Another development that has enriched the university's profile are the DFG-sponsored Collaborative Research Centres: SFB 767 "Controlled Nanosystems: Interaction and Interfacing to the Macroscale“ and SFB 969 “Chemical and Biological Principles of Cellular Proteostasis”. The University of Konstanz is also taking part in the SFB TR6 "Physics of Colloidal Dispersions in External Fields".

Four key research focuses derived from these successes:

  • in the Humanities and Social Sciences: Cultural Studies and Decision Sciences
  • in the Life and Natural Sciences: Chemical Biology and Ecology as well as Nanoscience and Material Sciences.

These profile areas highlight the drive for cross-departmental and even cross-faculty collaboration as well as the interconnection between the Cluster of Excellence, the Graduate School and our Institutional Strategy.

Scientific profile-building is always a dynamic process. This is why we continually review and develop our research profile areas. Currently active in Konstanz are:

Furthermore, the university is a partner in numerous EU-networks and projects. Our research profile also benefits greatly from our location in the tri-border area Germany – Austria –Switzerland. Through our close cooperation with the Swiss Canton of Thurgau, two institutes have been established:

Researchers at the University of Konstanz are regularly recognized for their research achievements: the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize has already been awarded six times to researchers in Konstanz. Our strength in research is also highlighted on a regular basis through the DFG Funding Ranking.

Promoting young researchers

To be recognized in the top European rankings in regards to the promotion of researchers is one of our main goals here at the University of Konstanz. Our Zukunftskolleg is a unique project in Germany when it comes to the promotion of young researchers. It offers our young researchers an interdisciplinary working environment with excellent research conditions and the greatest possible freedom.

The university’s doctoral students participate in special doctoral programmes and our young researchers can work independently in a working environment in which they can concentrate on their scientific qualifications. Our Code of Practice for Young Researchers is further evidence of our university’s commitment to the promotion of young researchers.

Excellent teaching and studies through research

The University of Konstanz is currently home to some 11,300 students enrolled in around 100 differentdegree programmes in the fields of mathematics and sciences, humanities, law, business and public administration. Many of them are interdisciplinary with several being international programmes such as the master’s programmes “Public Administration and European Governance” and “Quantitative Economics”. Outstanding ranking results regularly confirm our excellent quality of study, for example, the THE-Ranking „150 under 50“ in 2016, the CHE University Rankings 2015 and our Graduate Survey 2015/2016. Our university is deeply rooted in a culture of continuous development and improvement in teaching based on research. We accomplish this through the use of current research results, up-to date methods in teaching and study, and through the integration of infrastructural platforms within the teaching environment. Our activities in collaborative research projects also influence our teaching. We consider excellence and internationalisation as an integral component of teaching quality, with the goal of further internationalising our study programmes. The opportunities offered by the Hochschuldidaktikzentrum (HDZ)(university didactics centre) strengthen the quality of teaching at our university. The Centre for Teacher Education (ZLB) at the university supports our students during their secondary teacher education and training.

Internationalisation

We are continuously improving international visibility. Our aim is to attract outstanding international researchers and students in order to enhance the university’s excellence in research and teaching. We maintain partnerships with excellent research-oriented universities around the world. Through these efforts, the University of Konstanz is guaranteeing its international competitiveness while enhancing its orientation towards regional and international partnerships at the same time. In the Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2016 we placed 175 worldwide. One of the reasons for this good result is the high number of international researchers.

Public dialogue, knowledge transfer and regional interconnection

The dialogue with the public and other target audiences is one of the university’s key objectives. We communicate our achievements in the areas of research, teaching and knowledge transfer and respond to the expectations from regional, national, and international audiences. Knowledge transfer is carried out

  • through public events at home and abroad (presentations, conferences, seminars and lecture series),
  • in summer schools and
  • through the publications of university members.

Integration within the region, especially in terms of our role as an important regional employer, is of crucial importance: of the 2,150 university employees, 1,100 are researchers or academics, and 900 work in the research support sector.

Maintaining relations with alumni, friends, and sponsors

The University attaches great importance to the relationship with our alumni, friends and sponsors. Professional alumni work and the continuous development of services and opportunities for former students and staff are at the heart of this effort.

Private sponsors support the university with funding, equipments, services or ideas. Through fundraising the university solicits scholarships (Konstanz Scholarship Fund) and private donations in order to improve research and teaching.

Equal opportunity and services

The University of Konstanz is committed to gender equality and equal opportunity for women and men, as well as family support. Our services and performance in these areas have been honoured on several occasions and are unique in Germany. The university Kinderhaus, for example, provides 100 nursery and kindergarten places for children between 6 months and 6 years of age. Furthermore, a Code of Practice on Gender Equality was adopted in 2010. The excellent facilities and the 24-hour opening times of our award-winning and top-ranked library are also commendable: besides placing 1st in four consecutive years (2008-2011) in comparison to all other university libraries, the library was also recognized as “library of the year 2010” by the “ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius” Our Student Service Centre (SSZ) provides our students all the services they need at a single location. The Welcome Center offers extensive services for our (international) researchers and academics. Staff development, the promotion of young researchers and teaching competency development for all academics on all career levels is provided through our Academic Staff Development.

Knowledge and Technology Transfer

The knowledge and technology transfer at the University of Konstanz includes:

  • providing consultancy services for companies
  • implementing collaborative research and development projects
  • advising university researchers on funding opportunities
  • contracting research
  • assigning licenses
  • advising on and assisting in solving special problems via highly qualified researchers and academics
  • providing access to instrumentation for physical, chemical and biochemical analyses

Important is also the cooperation with external or independent research institutions.

Promoting employment qualifications and careers

At the University of Konstanz we promote the employment qualification and careers of our graduates. Close cooperation between the teaching staff, the Career Service and the Alumni service ensures a wide range of services and opportunities - the internship and job-placement service, the university-wide mentoring programme and the involvement of alumni in teaching. For career pathways into science and research, our Academic Staff Development team provides professional coaching and training in relevant scientific and academic competencies.

Student involvement and organisation

At the University of Konstanz we promote and expect student involvement in decision-making processes and bodies.

Sustainability

The University of Konstanz is committed to acting sustainably in the areas of research, teaching and administration. For us, sustainability involves the economy, society, politics and ecology. A master's programme on the topic of sustainability is also in the planning stages.

Social and community involvement

The University of Konstanz and its members are committed to support social and community involvement. Around 140 initiatives and groups are supported by students and staff at the university.