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Research Profile at Freie Universität Berlin

Freie Universität Berlin is one of the top research universities in Germany in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and natural sciences.
Freie Universität Berlin is one of the top research universities in Germany in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and natural sciences. Image Credit: Bernd Wannenmacher

Freie Universität Berlin, in line with its founding principles of freedom, truth, and justice, stands for open-mindedness and cross-border research and teaching with social responsibility. Research at Freie Universität Berlin is characterized by disciplinary and transdisciplinary excellence and the diversity of its scientific networks as well as by an internationally visible and competitive focus. Providing competent and professional support for young researchers is one of the most important priorities of Freie Universität Berlin.

Research Networks

The research profile of Freie Universität Berlin is significantly influenced by a specific concentration of expertise in strategic networks, which the university initiates and designs with regional, national, and international partners from academia, business, politics, and society. The university’s extensive international cooperation stems from its founding history. In addition, special emphasis in interdisciplinary research is placed on collaboration with the extramural research institutions on the greater Dahlem research campus. Researchers from Freie Universität Berlin work across disciplines to identify and investigate socially relevant issues of global interest for the future. Several research clusters and graduate schools were awarded funding in the German Excellence Competition of the federal and state governments in 2007 and 2012.

Focus Areas form academic and scientific networks and working platforms for interdisciplinary collaborative research at Freie Universität Berlin.

Research Focus

The nationwide unique breadth of humanities and social science research found at Freie Universität Berlin significantly characterizes the university’s research. One unique feature is the large number of specialized subjects such as Byzantine studies and Jewish studies.

As part of the decentralized anchoring of gender studies at Freie Universität Berlin, there is a variety of instruments and structures available to incorporate this area as a transversal theme in research and teaching and to promote the quality characteristic of (academically) critical research. More than 30 professors already conduct research and teach at Freie Universität Berlin in the field of women’s and gender studies.

The Center for Area Studies - one of 5 Focus Areas at Freie Universität Berlin - clusters the regional studies research on North and Latin America, Eastern Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and individual European countries. Governance research is one highlight of the Otto Suhr Institute, one of the most renowned political science institutes in Europe.

In the natural sciences, major focus is placed on the life sciences and Earth sciences, as well as physics, mathematics, and computer science. The broad spectrum also includes the Department of Veterinary Medicine – one of five veterinary schools in Germany – as well as the largest pharmaceutical educational institution in Germany

Charité – University Medicine Berlin, jointly operated by Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität, is the largest medical school in Europe.

The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum of Freie Universität Berlin with 22,000 species are among the largest facilities of their kind worldwide and attract half a million researchers and visitors annually. The Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS) is a research focus area of the Freie Universität Berlin. The goal is to establish in Berlin-Dahlem, a site with a strong history in plant science research, an internationally visible plant science centre, including one of the world´s largest botanical gardens and collections.

Research Performance

The high quality of research at Freie Universität Berlin is confirmed by its outstanding performance in academic rankings, such as the CHE Research Ranking and the ranking by the Times Higher Education Supplement. In the Funding Ranking of the German Research Foundation (DFG), Freie Universität Berlin holds the top position in the humanities and the social sciences. In the overall context of the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and natural sciences Freie Universität is one of the five best research universities in Germany. It is the coordinating university for 11 Collaborative Research Centers (CRC) and participates in 10 others, in addition to its involvement in 6 CRCs at Charité – University Medicine Berlin. Until 2014 it was a member of the research network running the DFG Research Center MATHEON Mathematics for Key Technologies, since June 2014 Freie Universität Berlin is involved in the Einstein Center for Mathematics Berlin.

The university’s research performance is reflected in the steady increases in the acquisition of external funding over the past years, as well as in the number of prestigious academic awards presented to its researchers. The latter include the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and the Grants of European Research Council (ERC).