Our Philosophy

After 11 years the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, the Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences has built up a distinct academic profile. This is what the Kolleg stands for:

・ The Kolleg is a research institute that celebrates the values of academic freedom and cosmopolitan citizenship. Quintessentially, the Kolleg is a place for international intellectual encounter. It belongs to that rare group of institutions, where scholars from differing, at times clashing academic cultures meet and cooperate freely and critically.

・ The Kolleg is also the meeting ground where scholars from a variety of international academic cultures come to do research in dialogue and cooperation with scholars based in Göttingen. At the Kolleg ‘Internationalisierung‘ means encounter: to learn from and with each other.

・ All research groups of the Kolleg are multidisciplinary.

・ As the Institute for Advanced Study of the University of Göttingen the Kolleg puts the emphasis on its international programme of Early Career Fellowships. The programme includes a number of career development activities including assisting fellows in turning their thesis into a monograph, in learning about publishers and publishing, in starting up a new research project, in learning about funding opportunities (and about how to apply) and in developing some of the skills that are needed in the life of academic teaching and administration.

・ At the same time the Kolleg fosters intellectual exchange and cooperation across generations of scholars. As to our Senior Research Fellowships, the Kolleg does not so much seek to attract solitary ‘superstars’, but excellent senior scholars who, whilst pursuing their own research, are willing to act as mentors for early career scholars.

・ Going back to the roots of Göttingen as Germany’s outstanding new Enlightenment university, opening its doors in the 1730s, the study of the Göttingen Enlightenment in its global contexts has been a distinct research focus for the Kolleg since 2013. Being named after one of the most versatile Enlightenment figures, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, the Kolleg strongly engages with both the positive and the problematic parts of Göttingen’s Enlightenment legacy, as exemplified by our research group Colonial Encounters, Enlightenment Collections, Post-Colonial Ethics and Politics (in cooperation with Forum Wissen).

・ Together with the Göttingen Academy of Sciences the Kolleg has a unique programme of Fellowships in Modern Jewish Studies: Cultural, Intellectual and Literary History. The Fellowships are honouring Moritz Stern, the first Jewish Ordinarius at a German university, namely Göttingen.

・ Together with the Fritz Bauer Institute in Frankfurt, the Kolleg is the home of the Anne Frank Research Project, preparing the first multilingual and fully annotated critical edition of the Diaries of Anne Frank, based on a new transcription and groundbreaking new translations, and using high-tech modern technology of book design and typography to visualise how Anne actually wrote, with all her errors, deletions, insertions and corrections.

・ The Kolleg has been building bridges between the human and natural sciences – highly appropriate of course for an institute which has as its home the Historische Sternwarte, the old astronomic observatory in Göttingen, that owes much of its fame and glory to one of its very first inhabitants, Carl Friedrich Gauss.

Public Outreach: on a regular basis the Kolleg opens its home, the Historische Sternwarte, one of Göttingen’s finest monuments, to the wider civic community with open days, public lectures, book launches and exhibitions. The highlight in 2021 is our 5th exhibition since 2012: a small, very fine exhibition of the university’s fabulous collection of Rembrandt prints. The exhibition Rembrandt: Der Künstler, seine Gesellschaft und seine Religion/ Rembrandt: Art, Society and Religion 1606-1669 will show 34 prints from the print collection that is part of the Kunstsammlung of the University of Göttingen. The interplay between 17th-century engraving and modern reproduction technology features strongly in the exhibition. Due to the Covid-19 crisis the opening of the exhibition had to be postponed. The exhibition is now scheduled for 22 April – 14 December 2021; depending on Covid’s vagaries the opening may still have to be moved.

・ For 2021-2023 the Kolleg plans new research groups that take up burning questions of the current public health crises.