OPEN HUMBOLDT - Our Third Mission

For the members of Humboldt-Universität, exchange and knowledge transfer are part of their self-image - in the academic environment and beyond. Since its foundation more than 200 years ago, the university has been a driving force for reform and has always seen itself as a place of exchange and cooperation with society.

Innovative - Multidirectional - Effective

With OPEN HUMBOLDT, the university is now venturing - very much in the spirit of its founders - on an "expedition" with an as yet open outcome. The strategy process aims to address the transformative challenges of the 21st century. Together in a new quality of partnership with different actors in politics, society and culture and with new projects and formats. This enter-prise is driven by the conviction that working on scientific questions, for example on climate change, the crisis of democracy or the challenges of digitalization, requires not only interdisci-plinary cooperation between researchers, but also the perspectives and competencies of non-university actors.

OPEN HUMBOLDT is therefore designed as a long-term, university-wide strategy process. It is closely accompanied academically and all new forms of knowledge production are examined for their epistemic, social and medial aspects. With the founding of the Robert Merton Center, Humboldt-University has launched this research focus in the field of science and science com-munication research in 2019.

"OPEN HUMBOLDT stands for a university that explicitly opens itself to social and cultur-al topics and actors in the midst of society. By consciously addressing issues from society and culture, we qualify Humboldt-Universität as a place for debate, for listening, for dealing with conflicts or questions, and for testing possible solutions. In doing so, the members of our university are not only in demand with their scientific know-how, but also as citizens of this society. We will strengthen and promote the multidirectional and transdisciplinary dialogue at different places and through interesting projects."
Sabine Kunst, Representative of the Presidential Board for Open Humboldt and former President of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Humboldt-Universität is intensifying and consolidating the interaction between science, society and culture with new communication offerings. In doing so, the integration of and exchange with diverse social actors is increasingly taking place outside of university structures and boundaries. For example, in the context of the planned Science Campus Nature and Society or the development of the Palais am Festungsgraben into a transdisciplinary beacon in the fields of migration and exile.

"It is important and effective for a scientist to leave the ivory tower and include other perspectives and experiences in their own research. This is indeed exhausting and a very high effort. But if you have the aspiration to really leave something behind for society, it's [...] an extremely worthwhile endeavor."
Robert Arlinghaus, social ecologist and fisheries scientist, Communicator Prize of the German Research Foundation 2020

Proven and New Activities

With OPEN HUMBOLDT, the university is building on a major commitment by its scientists over the past three decades. Humboldt-Universität is familiar with many established formats of ex-change: lecture series, offers for schools, the Long Night of the Sciences, the Unilab. In the fu-ture, many more formats will be added.

The idea of OPEN HUMBOLDT lives on the commitment of many. Therefore, various programs and offers are developed to support scientists who are enthusiastic about communication. For example, the program (link: mission/open-humboldt-freiraeume text: "OPEN HUMBOLDT Freiräume" (OPEN HUMBOLDT Free Spaces), which offers researchers the possibility of a free semester for the implementation of communication and transfer projects. An external group of experts also provides support for the OPEN HUMBOLDT strategy process.

Discover the projects on our website and get involved!


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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst - Präsidentin der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst - Representative of the Presidential Board for Open Humboldt

(© Matthias Heyde)

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