Concept of the Zukunftskolleg

Independent, interdisciplinary and free from administrative constraints – these are the research conditions that the Zukunftskolleg at the University of Konstanz provides for young talents. This unique institution offers up-and-coming scientists and scholars a creative space to pursue outstanding research and to form their own research group. The inspiring community of young scientists generates far-reaching ideas and continuously developing research approaches: inventive, exciting and pointing the way to the future. The Zukunftskolleg is the distinct badge of the University of Excellence.The Zukunftskolleg aims for the promotion of young postdoctoral scientists and scholars from the humanities, natural and social sciences. The Funding Programmes are considered for the members of the Zukunftskolleg and partly also for the young researchers of the University of Konstanz. The Zukunftskolleg is composed of up to 50 Fellows who belong to the Zukunftskolleg as well as to a department of the University of Konstanz. Further do Senior Fellows and Associated Fellows serve with their expertise as members of the Zukunftskolleg.

The origins of the Zukunftskolleg go back to the Centre for Junior Research Fellows (Zentrum für den wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs – ZWN), which was established by a resolution adopted by the Senate of the University of Konstanz in 2001 in order to provide the greatest possible support and flexibility for young scientists in their research. Within the scope of the Excellence Initiative, the ZWN was converted into the Zukunftskolleg, which began its operations on 1 November 2007.

In 2012 the application for the university’s status of Excellence has been granted again and therefore the Zukunftskolleg will continue to stand for borderless communication of research: free, creative, connecting.

What we offer

Promotion of Young Talent

Thanks to an extensive promotion at the Zukunftskolleg young academics can concentrate completely on their projects. Postdoctoral researchers and research group builders from around the globe can apply for a 2-year Postdoctoral Fellowship or a 5-year Research Fellowship. Researchers in the humanities and social sciences are as welcome as natural scientists. A total of up to 60 Fellows from all over the world gather here in this stimulating environment, where they gain impulses from other disciplines, particularly through regular dialogue. Once a week the young researchers meet up at a Jour Fixe to hear about the latest developments in one of their colleagues' research areas and to discuss the results, each from his or her specialist perspective. Topics and subjects are considered from varying points of view with different priorities; hence scientists do not act in direct competition, but enrich one another. All this creates a highly productive exchange: lateral thinking is the order of the day. 

Comprehensive Support

Young scientists require not only outstanding research results but also key qualifications to communicate their achievements within the scientific community. The Zukunftskolleg supports its Fellows with training in these competencies in cooperation with the University of Konstanz's Academic Staff Development, by offering individual coaching for career planning and time management or workshops on improving one´s performance with appointment commissions.

In submitting grant proposals, Fellows of the Zukunftskolleg are assisted by the Research Support Office. The team provides qualified information on funding opportunities, organises a funding colloquium in which Fellows can discuss their drafts with co-Fellows and colleagues and offers a critical review of the final version of the proposal.

In close cooperation with the Equal Opportunities Office of the University of Konstanz the Zukunftskolleg supports equal opportunities for female and male scientists and assists the Fellows in combining science and family.

Furthermore the "Konstanzer Kodex für Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler zwischen Promotion und Professur" that was passed in November 2013, aims at strengthening the status of young scientists. 

An Interdisciplinary Community

The lively intellectual atmosphere of the Zukunftskolleg creates a close network of scientific excellence, direct communication and interdisciplinary discussion. The dialogue is also cross-generational: established guest scholars, the Senior Fellows, advise and accompany the aspiring researchers for part of the time. This support and inspiration is a mutual advantage, since the Senior Fellows profit just as much by the impulses provided by the younger generation Therefore the Zukunftskolleg inspires younger and more experienced researchers alike. 

Freedom and Integration

Despite the high level of freedom in their research, the young researchers are not left alone to float isolated in the university cosmos. Firm grounding is guaranteed: the Fellows are integrated within a department, use its laboratories and facilities and in turn enrich the university with their unusual ideas and excellent achievements. In addition, they can hold lectures and seminars for the students, but are not obliged to do so. Nevertheless, teaching experience is important for a university career, as are supervising and examining students. This is why the Zukunftskolleg considers it to be important that the Fellows obtain examination licenses during their five year membership.

"Modell Konstanz - Towards a Culture of Creativity"

The Zukunftskolleg is the core of the university's institutional strategy for its projected "Modell Konstanz - towards a culture of creativity", which finally earned the University's status of Excellence. In 2010 this flagship of advancement for young scholars moved into a new building on the campus with state-of-the-art facilities and pastoral views - on a clear day, as far as the Swiss Alps. All in all, an exquisite address for outstanding young researchers from both Germany and abroad.