Since its foundation in 1966 as a reform university, the University of Konstanz has stood for top-level research, excellence in teaching and study, internationality as well as interdisciplinary collaboration. This distinctive orientation soon led to the development of a profile that stands out due to a focus on high levels of quality, innovation, creativity and enthusiasm for 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 “Modell Konstanz – Towards a Culture of Creativity” . This strategy focuses on developing our strengths as well as our 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 federal government and the state of Baden-Württemberg. In 2006, our Center of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration” was approved after the Excellence Initiative's first call for proposals. Shortly thereafter in 2007, our Konstanz 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 Graduate School of Decision Sciences , which was established in 2012.
Close dialogue and short distances
The University of Konstanz is a medium-sized campus university with short distances to cover. Flat hierarchies and structures within the university promote flexibility and interdisciplinary cooperation between and within the administration and the thirteen departments, which are divided into three faculties: the Faculty of Sciences, the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Politics – Law – Economics. Close dialogue and effective communication drive our living culture of creativity on all levels.
The advantages, values and characteristics of our university, as formulated in the foundation report, include:
- Genuine, open, authentic, flexible
- diversity, communication and integration
- the promotion of junior researchers and
- flexible and adaptable structures as the basis for international top-level research
Excellent top-level research
As regards research, our university's profile is characterised by cooperation and collaboration across disciplines, departments and faculties. Here, too, our flat hierarchies and faculty structures promote 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 first funding phase of the Excellence Initiative. The strategic steering of the institutional strategy and the addition of other Excellence Initiative projects have carried the profile-development process even further: Apart from our successes in the Excellence Initiative, our profile has been shaped by the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centres CRC 767 “Controlled Nanosystems: Interaction and Interfacing to the Macroscale”, CRC 969 “Chemical and Biological Principles of Cellular Proteostasis” and CRC 1214 “Anisotropic Particles as Building Blocks: Tailoring Shape, Interactions and Structures” as well as the participation in the CRC-TRR 161 “Quantitative Methods for Visual Computing”.
Our four key research focuses are derived from these successes:
1. Cultural Studies
2. Social Sciences with a focus on Inequality Research
3. Collective Behaviour and Ecology
4. Chemical Biology
5. Molecular Nanoscience and Materials Science
These research profile areas highlight the close collaboration across our departments and faculties as well as the interconnection between our Center of Excellence, our Graduate Schools 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:
- four Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs),
- six research groups and five Research Training Groups of the German Research Foundation (DFG) as well as
- five research centres.
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.
Researchers at the University of Konstanz are regularly recognised for their research achievements: the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize has already been awarded six times (since 1989) as well as the Balzan Prize three times (since 1996, recently in 2017 and 2018) to researchers in Konstanz. Our outstanding strength in research is also highlighted on a regular basis by the DFG Funding Ranking.
Advancement of junior researchers
The University of Konstanz strives to become a European leader with regard to the promotion of junior researchers. Our Zukunftskolleg is a unique project in Germany in this respect. It offers our junior researchers an interdisciplinary working environment with excellent research conditions and the greatest possible freedom.
Our Code of Practice for Researchers between Doctoral Studies and Professorship is further evidence of our commitment to promoting new talents. The university supports doctoral students enrolled in doctoral programmes, promotes the independence of doctoral students and junior researchers as they work their way up to a professorship and offers them a working environment in which they can focus on enhancing their scientific qualifications.
Excellent teaching and studies inspired by research
The University of Konstanz is currently home to some 11,400 students enrolled in around 100 different degree programmes in the fields of mathematics and natural sciences, humanities, law, economics 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 World University Rankings 2017-2018 (21st nationwide, 201-250 group placement worldwide) the THE Ranking “150 under 50” in 2016 (1st place nationwide, 7th worldwide), the CHE University Ranking 2017 and our Graduate Survey 2015/2016. Our university is deeply rooted in a culture of continuous development of and improvement in teaching that is 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. The experience and knowledge generated by our collaborative research projects also feed back into our teaching. We consider excellence and internationalisation as integral components 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. As a cross-institutional collaborative centre for teaching and research, the university's Binational School of Education (BiSE) controls, coordinates and develops all aspects of teacher education at the University of Konstanz, working closely with Thurgau University of Teacher Education (PHTG), the Staatliches Seminar für Didaktik und Lehrerbildung (Gymnasien) Rottweil and our partner schools.
We are continuously improving our international visibility. Our university attracts outstanding international researchers and students to ensure 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 simultaneously enhancing its orientation towards regional and international partnerships. In the Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2016 we placed 175 worldwide. One of the reasons for this good result is the high proportion of international researchers at our university.
International visibility, public dialogue, knowledge transfer and regional interconnection
Founded in 1966 on the basis of forward-looking reform ideas, the University of Konstanz has continued to further develop its specific model of a medium-sized yet strongly research-oriented, innovative and flexible institution, with the objective of generating and sharing new knowledge. This unique “Modell Konstanz” distinguishes itself through its flat hierarchies (which extend to the university administration) and its inherent interdisciplinarity in both research and teaching. These qualities provide the pre-requisites for successful knowledge and technology transfer.
At the University of Konstanz, we define knowledge and technology transfer as a reciprocal process between science, industry, politics and society. Following the example of a position paper published by the German Council of Science and Humanities in 2016, it categorises knowledge and technology transfer into three spheres of activity: “communication”, “advice” and “application”. All the various work carried out in regard to transfer is assigned to these three areas. The spectrum of this transfer work is deliberately very broad: it ranges from diverse channels and measures relating to science communication, that have strengthened the international visibility within the last years, all the way to the scientific consulting of policy makers, providing expert evaluation reports as well as creating spin-offs.
As a strong partner for fostering dialogue with the public, the University of Konstanz Society (UGK e.V.) works to promote and publicise university-related topics in the region. Its executive board consists of dedicated and well-known personalities in the region who exemplify the idea of transfer and can transmit it into the region.
The university considers a constructive integration within the region, especially in regard to its role as an important regional employer, to be of crucial importance in its planning and decision-making processes: 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 of Konstanz’s large alumni network includes students and staff members as well as former students, supporters and friends. The online alumni portal provides all members of the university as well as its partners and external employers with excellent opportunities to connect, re-connect and network at the regional and international levels.
We invite all students, including first-year students, to join the alumni network. Student membership in the University of Konstanz Alumni Association (VEUK e.V.) is free for up to two years after graduation. The Alumni Association has several thousand members. Working with the university departments, it regularly organises the Alumni on campus event, supports up to 50 networking-related funding projects per year (many of them led by students) and awards a number of Deutschlandstipendien (Germany Scholarships) and graduation awards.
The university's alumni strategy is international: It has expanded its international network of student and research alumni continuously for many years and is active in numerous European and non-European cooperation projects such as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s research alumni strategies and the alumni programmes of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Many of our alumni activities have been consolidated into regular events through the establishment of international alumni associations.
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. Our library, which is open 24 hours a day, is another very important service provider: After concluding the final stages of the renovation works in 2017, the library forged ahead with its digitisation strategy.
It was named 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 Centre offers extensive services for our (international) researchers and academics. Staff development, the promotion of junior researchers and teaching competency development for all academics on all career levels is provided through our Academic Staff Development.
Advancing employment qualifications and careers
At the University of Konstanz, we help advance the employment qualifications and careers of our graduates. Close cooperation between the teaching staff, the departments, the Career Service and the alumni relations team 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 both promote and expect student involvement in decision-making processes and bodies.
The University of Konstanz is committed to sustainability in the areas of research, teaching and administration. For us, sustainability involves the economy, society, politics and ecology. One example for this policy is the student-led Green Office. 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 150 initiatives and groups are supported by students and staff at the university.