Prof. Dr. Lambert T. Koch

The academic career of the author took him from Mainz, Würz­burg and Jena to Wuppertal with visiting professorships in Klagenfurt and Cleve­land (Ohio). At the Uni­­ver­­sity of Wuppertal (BUW) he built the teaching and research area of “Foun­­dation, innovation and economic de­­vel­opment”, acted as dean of the Schum­­peter School of Business and Eco­­nom­ics, and has been rector of BUW since 2008.

Interdisciplinary, innovative, international – The University of Wuppertal on its way

The University of Wuppertal over the rooftops of the city.

1. Universities in competition for a higher profile
Today, universities are competing in many respects. They compete with other ed­­u­­cational institutions for good students, for funds for research and teaching as well as for strong partners in economy and society. Against this background it is much more important now than in the past to remain attractive to the mentioned target groups. However, who wants to be attractive, must deal with his appearance. This includes asking where the strengths of the own offer lie, what weaknesses might interfere and which development paths perspectively need to be aimed at respectively where scarce resources of intangible and tangible nature should be invested in.


Lecture in the department of Economics at BUW.

Also, the University of Wup­­pertal is fac­­ing up to these challenges. For this pur­­pose, almost a year ago the process to formulate a new vision was started in order to raise the internal and external perception of the university as a re­­search and educational organization and to formulate a strong profile for the future. Initially, it was necessary to highlight the history of the institution, which was founded in the 70s as a poly­­technic and later turned into a university, and to analyze its specific range of dis­­ciplines and competence as well as its internal structure in science and management. Furthermore, the stock of in­­ternational, national and regional co-op­­­­er­­ation in the areas of research, teach­­ing and transfer needed to be taken. The potentials and future opportunities re­­vealed by this analysis were ultimately central to the formulation of the new model, which constitutes a bridge be­­tween the past and the future of the uni­­versity. The following two sections out­­line some key aspects of this model.


2. How the University of Wuppertalsees itself
Centrally located in the self-confidence of the University is its role as a modern, independent university in the educatio­n­­al tradition of Humboldt. As such it is committed to search for the truth in all academic subject areas from a point of social responsibi­­lity. For the University of Wuppertal, the pur­­suit for international visibility and networking on the one hand, and the regional an­­choring and co-operation on the other, do not contradict each other. Rather they are both understood as two sides of a coin. While working nationally and in­­ternationally in different fields in cutting-edge re­­search, at the same time in the field of training and trans­­fer, in par­­ticular, the University acts in the awareness of its regional re­­f­erence. In doing so, it trains students in a highly qualified way for their future roles in the democratic society, sci­­ence and various professional fields.

The research and teaching profile of the University is characterized by interdisci­plinarity and innovative ability and takes up future education and knowl­­edge re­­quirements as well as research issues. Increased activities, which aim to further national and international networking, go hand in hand with the steady expansion of scientific excellence, which is based on the following outlined strategic priorities. This is based on the conviction that in­­ter­­national ex­­change, trans­na­­tion­al re­­search co-operation and in­­ter-cul­tural competen­­ce gain in­­creas­­ing rele­vance in the course of the ongoing globalization.


3. These are the strategic priorities pursued  
The emergence of specific profiles of re­­search and teaching of the Uni­­ver­sity primarily serves to bring to­­gether ex­­ist­ing strengths, to develop ad­­di­tio­nal syn­­ergies, and – as already indicated above – to improve the external visibility of its potential and services. The following stra­­tegic priorities are cross-disciplinary ob­­jectives:

(a) Building blocks of matter, experiment, simulation and mathematical methods
This focal point links basic research in the field of science and mathematics with re­­search focuses in experimental and the­­o­­retical particle physics, scienti­­f­­ic computing, and representation theory. Of im­­por­­tant research interest are the elementary particles of matter and the forces acting between them. The cor­­re­­sponding ex­­per­­imental work ranges from participation in major internatio­n­­al ex­­periments in particle acceleration to as­­trophysical observatories.

Apart from theory and experiment, also numerical simulation and super-com­­pu­t­­­ing are car­­ried out. These activities are interdiscipli­­nary and structurally parti­c­­­ularly closely interwoven with the in­­ter­­na­tio­­nal community. The “Interdis­cip­li­nary Center for Applied Informatics and Scien­­tific Com­­puting” (IZ II) forms an in­­ter­face between the disciplines in­­volved.

(b) Education and knowledge in social and cultural contexts
The second focal point deals with education and knowledge as crucial social categories. Being aware that all thinking, acting and deciding is made within so­­cial and cultural contexts, various scien­­c­­es are researching the shaping of edu­­cational processes and the relationship between education and knowledge in the past and present.

In doing so, the conditions and possibi­l­i­­ties of education are analyzed in de­­tail, where­­by formal, institutionally-linked forms as well as everyday aspects of life and cul­­tural prac­­tices are taken into con­sid­­er­­a­­tion. There­­by, the existing con­­­tributions from humanities and cultural sciences as well as social sciences and education studies offer an excellent po­­tential for joint research pro­­jects. This transdisciplinarity allows the con­­nec­tion of differ­­ent methodological ap­­proaches and is not least part of the foun­­dations of an excellent teacher training.

Research centre for performance diagnostics and training advice.

(c) Health, prevention and exercise
As a societal factor, prevention and ex­­er­­ci­­se, which are the basic elements of keep­­ing healthy, and their impact on the ability of workers to perform, become more and more important. Health is no longer just a do­­main of medicine, but is re­­garded as an in­­terdisciplinary phe­­nomenon in sci­­ence and practice. There are many sub­­jects at the Uni­ver­sity of Wuppertal that study this is­­sue from dif­­ferent perspec­­tives. These in­­clude con­­tributions from health psycho­­­l­­­ogy, pe­­dagogical concepts of health edu­­ca­tion, approaches of sports edu­ca­­­tion and med­­icine, kinesiology, psy­­cho­­­logy, safe­­ty en­­gineering, health eco­­­nom­­ics, as well as special law. The aim of the focus is to merge more and more such con­­tri­­bu­­tions into interdisciplinary re­­search pro­­jects. In this sense the “Ber­gi­­sche Kom­­pe­­­tenz­zentrum für Gesund­heits­­manage­­ment und Public Health” (Ber­gi­­sch Com­petence Centre for Health Management and Public Health) plays a particular role.

Theory and practice, knowledge and application.

d) Language, narration and editing
Narration and narrative are not speci­f­ic to literature, but also represent – in the living world – a ubiquitous mode of conception, structuring, interpretation and communication of real or imaginary experiences, of knowledge, ideas and intentions.

A focus of the humanities and cultural sciences research, which is in­­stitu­tion­al­­ized in the “Zentrum für Er­­zähl­for­­schung” (ZEF – centre for nar­­­rative re­­search) at the Universi­ty, ac­­com­­­mo­dates the general im­­portan­ce of the cultural form of action “narration” in a special way.

It examines both the struc­­tural and the contextual aspects of nar­­ration in the research fields of “historical development of literary nar­­ration”, “non-li­­terary spoken narration” and “in­­ter-me­­dia aspects of narration.”


(e) Environment, engineering and safety
This focus combines interdisciplinary re­­search on the subjects of “environmen­tal systems” and economic, ecological and so­­cial “sustainability”. Science and engi­neer­­ing disciplines bring input, as well as parts of social sciences and eco­­nom­ics, also in co-operation with the “Wup­­pertal Institut für Klima, Um­­welt, Ener­­gie” (Wup­­pertal institute for clima­te, environ­­ment and energy – WI). The en­­tire chain of production of knowledge, from basic research to the development of applica­­tion-oriented products and high-tech pro­­ce­­dures, is served in co-operation with the industry. Environ­men­tal research, en­­gi­­neer­­ing and se­­cu­rity strategies are aimed at improving the understanding of com­­plex correlations in ecological and tech­­no­log­ical systems and at enhancing tech­­no­logical innova­­tions. In regard to the ap­­plication, the main ques­­tion is how future needs of consumers and producers as well as the challenges of en­­vironmental protection and globalization can be met in changing environmental con­­ditions and availability of resources.


BUW campus on the Grifflenberg.

(f) Entrepreneurship, innovation and economic change
The final focus is the interdisciplinary ex­­ploration of the relationship between entrepreneurship, foundation and in­­no­­va­­tion on the one hand, and econom­ic de­­velopment on the other. There­­by, firstly the interactions between micro-poli­t­­ical choices of the firms and the mac­ro-po­­li­­tical decisions of the federal le­­v­­els and their implications on the de­­vel­­opment of economic systems are in the focus of the analysis. In addition to the contributions of economic sciences (pro­­grammatically organized in the “Schum­­peter School of Business and Econom­ics”), humanities and social sciences, also engineering sciences, mathematics and computer science are pivotal for the understanding of the technical aspects of innovation processes. The synergies among the mentioned sectors have an effect on the study offers of the new sector of industrial engineering.

With the outlined strategic focus, the University of Wuppertal is confident to follow a successful path with a view to fu­­ture requirements in research, teaching and transfer. It continuously works in accordance with the above mentioned in order to increase its attractiveness with regard to the relevant target groups and to cope with the challenges in the na­­tional and global education competition.



Company contributions:

Boehringer Ingelheim Austria -Center of Excellence in the Heart of Europe
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Processing plastic for all of Europe
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Perfect refrigeration engineering

Author contributions:

The food industry as a factor for success
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