Münster University sharpens its research profile

Rectorate names four -Key Impact Areas-; central trio of research, teaching and transfer work

In addition to excellent research activities, such as publication achievements a
In addition to excellent research activities, such as publication achievements and third-party funding activities, outstanding teaching and transfer activities characterise the respective profile and potential areas. © WWU - Robert Matzke
The University of Münster is gearing up for the next round of the Excellence Strategy organised by the national government and the federal states - a highly competitive competition in the field of top-flight university research. For this purpose, the Rectorate has been working with a large number of the researchers on developing Münster’s new research profile. Their work has now produced a result: 13 areas - eight Profile Areas and five Potential Areas - which will be given an overall structure through four so-called Key Impact Areas in which the University will be pooling the strengths and resources of individual disciplines to benefit top-flight interdisciplinary research. These Key Impact Areas are: Dynamic Societies, Healthy Individuals, Conceptual Foundations & Emerging Technologies, and Sustainable Futures. "The new research profile focuses on approaches and solutions for the complex challenges which societies face today," explains Prof. Monika Stoll, Vice-Rector for Research. "Working together with partner universities, industry, business, schools, government authorities and non-profit organizations," she says, "science-based and sustainable changes in society will be proposed and made possible."

In addition to outstanding activities in research - for example, the volume of publications and activities to acquire external funding - each Profile Area and each Potential Area is characterised by excellent teaching and transfer work. "To this end, we have been collecting and analysing a comprehensive range of data over the past months to support processes relating to development and decision-making," says Dr. Corinna Lenhardt, Head of the Münster University Future Laboratory. The revision of the new research profile has also resulted in Natural Sciences, the Humanities and Social Sciences receiving equal weight. The Profile Areas, for example, include Religion and Society, Addressing Law and Nanosciences, while the Potential Areas cover, among others, Accessing Cultures, Biopolymers and Interdisciplinary Computing & Artificial Intelligence. The process of further sharpening the University’s research profile is to be continued in regular exchange formats. As Monika Stoll stresses, "We want to maintain a culture of open exchanges with our researchers." This, she adds, ultimately leads not only to more large-scale research in research alliances, but also to a stronger identification with Münster University’s profile.

Back at the beginning of the year, the University already informed the German Research Foundation about which new applications for Clusters of Excellent it would be submitting. At the end of May, the Rectorate submitted outlines of two new research alliance projects. In the one application, entitled "SOFI - Science of Individualisation", researchers plan to collaborate with the University of Bielefeld in investigating the consequences of individualisation in changing environments at various levels - from the individual up to society as a whole. The project "Agonal Plurality", in which Münster is collaborating with the University of Duisburg-Essen, takes a comparative look at the dynamics of conflicts and possible solutions. Applications for continued funding for the two Clusters of Excellence "Religion and Politics" and "Mathematics Münster" will follow in August 2024.

Clusters of Excellence are an important element in the overall strategy being pursued by the University of Münster and, accordingly, must be aligned with the research profile. This includes in particular the University’s long-term Excellence Strategy bearing the slogan "excellence.integrated", which promotes continuous exchanges between researchers, students, teachers and the public in Münster and beyond.

Something else which is new is that in future the Rectorate will be inviting applications for start-up funds for creative projects in research, teaching and transfer. "As a result, we will be getting new ideas for the Profile Areas and Potential Areas and, at the same time, we will be able to identify new fields of work," as Monika Stoll explains. "After all, standing still is not an option."

This article first appeared in the University newspaper wissen