Research profile of the University of Konstanz
The University's research profile contains the following four key focuses: In the Humanities and Social Sciences, Cultural Studies andDecision Sciences; in the Life Sciences and Natural Sciences in Chemical Biology and Ecology as well as Nanoscience and Material Sciences. In these profile areas, the cross-department and cross-faculty activities and the close ties between the Cluster of Excellence, the Graduate School, the Graduate School Initiative and the Institutional Strategy find expression. However, profile building is always subject to a dynamism. This explains why the University continually reviews its profile areas in research and continues to develop them further.
Cultural studies research stands out in the arts, humanities and social sciences at the University of Konstanz is characterised by the fact that cultural processes in an epochspanning European and global perspective are always addressed in relation to their socio-structural conditions and circumstances. Accordingly, "Culture" is neither understood as a subject area nor, next to others, such as in politics or economics, as a reservoir of the meaning of societies, but rather as an historical, changeable means of producing meaning. Through the establishment of the Cluster of Excellence, such studies on the processes of integration and disintegration are currently the main focus, in order to develop descriptive models for decentralised forms of socialisation.
The gain in non-European competence (comparative religious studies, ethnology) in the Cluster additionally facilitates the reconsideration of established terminological-conceptual definitions explicitly or tacitly founded in Western traditions in the light of completely different evidence. It brings together the fundamental and theory-oriented with more empirically oriented research. The core of the Cluster lies in History and Literary Studies, as well as in Sociology, while Law, Politics and Administrative Sciences as well as Philosophy also contribute.
Life Sciences: Chemical Biology and Ecology
The core research area in the field of Chemical Biology aims to determine how physiological processes can be steered at molecular and atomic level. The approach of Chemical Biology is to characterise individual proteins and to determine the functional interaction between the macromolecular basic building blocks of a cell. The research work at the interface between biology and chemistry is complemented by bioinformatics approaches which draw up innovative analysis methods for the hardly comprehensible data volumes in the Life Sciences.
Besides the Graduate School on Chemical Biology, which plays a central role, mention must also be made of the stress and trauma research performed at the University of Konstanz. The focus on ecology not only covers limnology, but also and above all the topic of animal migration and its impact on the ecosystems. The collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell and Seewiesen has a key role to play here, as the planned second department in the field of biodiversity at the Konstanz site shows. The Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Computer and Information Science are highly involved in this research area, decisively complemented by working groups from the Departments of Physics and Psychology.
Nanoscience and Material Sciences
The core research area in the Nanoscience and Material Sciences is developing a detailed understanding of the nano and material structures and their interaction – among each other and with the macroscopic world. The primary goal here is always to acquire precise control of their characteristics and properties, and from there to produce new functionalities and fields of application. Furthermore, the work focuses primarily on developing new materials and their sustainable synthesis. Photovoltaics is affiliated to this field. The Nanoscience and Material Sciences are researched in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry. Particular importance in this area is placed on the field of technology transfer, performed, in particular, by the Center for Applied Photonics and the Center "Nano Euregio Bodensee".
The core research area in the Decision Sciences is dedicated to the decision-making behaviour of individuals and groups. The research work builds a bridge between the fundamental processes that determine human decision-making, on the one hand, and, the social results for society as a whole, on the other hand, in particular in the field of politics and markets. The Decision Sciences thereby pool the perspectives of Politics and Public Administration, Psychology and Economics; the research approaches are complemented by the fields of Computer and Information Science, Sociology, Mathematics and Statistics as well as Philosophy and Law. The programmatic interface is provided by the Research Initiative on Psychoeconomics and the Graduate School Initiative in Decision Sciences.