University of Freiburg at a Glance
The University of Freiburg was founded in 1457 and is one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Germany. With eleven faculties, around 240 degree programmes, and 440 full professorships as well as 32 junior professorships, it covers a broad interdisciplinary spectrum with high-quality research and teaching. The University of Freiburg regularly takes top positions in prestigious rankings. In the Shanghai Ranking, for example, it comes in at fifth place in nationwide comparison and is listed among the 101–150 best universities worldwide. The University currently has around 24,500 students, 4,985 doctoral candidates, and a total of 8,200 employees, 5,800 of them in academic positions. Twenty-three Nobel laureates are associated with the University of Freiburg. The University secured 219 million euros in third-party funding in 2023 and received 16 ERC Grants between 2019 and 2023.
Two University of Freiburg cluster initiatives have taken an important step forward in the current round of the Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments. The German Research Foundation has invited the Freiburg cluster initiatives Constitution as Practice in Times of Transformation (ConTrans) and Future Forests – Adapting Complex Social-Ecological Forest Systems to Global Change to submit full proposals by 22 August 2024. This milestone was preceded by a collaborative process involving the University leadership and more than 200 researchers: The University’s participation in the current round of the Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments has been in preparation since February 2021, embedded in the overall strategic process ‘University of Freiburg 2030’.
The existing University of Freiburg Clusters of Excellence, Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies (CIBSS) and Living, Adaptive, and Energy-Autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS), will submit proposals for a second term of funding.
Overall Strategic Process ‘University of Freiburg 2030’
The overall strategic process ‘Universität Freiburg 2030’ aims to make the University of Freiburg fit for the future. It includes a university-wide approach to central topics like governance, research, teaching, sustainability, and science communication. More than 200 members of the University – including researchers, students, and administrative employees – are grappling with fundamental questions in ten working groups and developing appropriate measures. In the following, we present a few current milestones in the overall strategic process.
Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments: One milestone in the overall strategic development towards ‘University of Freiburg 2030’ is the application in the current round of the Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments, initially in the Clusters of Excellence funding line. Two University of Freiburg Clusters of Excellence have taken an important step forward in this line. In summer 2024 the University will also submit renewal proposals for the existing Clusters of Excellence Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies (CIBSS) and Living, Adaptive, and Energy-Autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS).
Further development of the research profile: By virtue of its broad spectrum of disciplines, the University of Freiburg offers ideal conditions for outstanding research at its eleven faculties and its central research institutions. Partnerships with non-university research institutes such as Freiburg’s Max Planck Institutes and Fraunhofer Institutes as well as regional companies provide another basis for numerous successful cooperation projects. On this basis, University of Freiburg researchers conduct excellent, internationally visible interdisciplinary collaborative research in the three focus areas ‘Cultures and Societies in Space and Time’, ‘Pathways to Sustainability’, and ‘Signals of Life’, which were sharpened with the further elaboration of the University’s research profile. Each faculty is involved in at least one of the areas.
Mission statement: The three values quality, responsibility, and openness are at the heart of the mission statement the University published in summer 2023 as a basis for its actions and activities. The mission statement was developed by a group appointed by the Senate, consisting of just under 20 University members representing all status groups. Among other things, the mission statement is intended to intensify reflection and exchange on what makes the University of Freiburg special, what goals we are following, and how we interact with each other. It should also encourage a critical examination of the University’s past, present, and future.
Sustainability, Internationalization, Science Communication
The University of Freiburg places special emphasis on sustainability in research, teaching, and operations: Its Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources is engaged in a wide range of sustainability issues, there are more than 50 professorships throughout the University with a sustainability focus, and the topic is coordinated at a Vice Rector’s Office for Sustainability. Since 2021 students of all fields of study have had the option of earning a ‘Sustainability Certificate’, and since 2022 the University has published an annual sustainability report, whose purpose includes reporting on the successful implementation of measures for the University’s own climate protection plan. In 2023 the Sustainability Office was opened on the initiative of students. Its aims include networking actors on the topic and supporting projects. Moreover, the University of Freiburg is currently building up a sustainability campus together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
Internationalization is also a university-wide focus for the University of Freiburg that is coordinated at a vice rector’s office. In addition to global partnerships and numerous departmental collaborations, the University is a member of strong European alliances: As a member of ‘Eucor – The European Campus’ and ‘EPICUR – European Partnership for an Innovative Campus Unifying Regions’, it helps shape innovative European research and educational spaces in which the participating universities tackle global social challenges together. In view of these challenges, the transfer of knowledge, education, and technology is also fundamental to the University of Freiburg. At the beginning of 2021, Freiburg became the first university nationwide to anchor science communications from the level of communications practice at the university management level. Science communication is a part of the University’s broad understanding of transfer, encompassing education, technology, and knowledge.