Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz enhances its research profile

Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative will fund leading-edge research areas to ensure national and international competitiveness

26 June 2019

The Ministry of Science, Continuing Education, and Culture (MWWK) of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) today signed their Research Initiative target agreement to further boost the university's research profile. From 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2023, a total of 13 cutting-edge research areas of JGU will receive up to EUR 9.5 million per year in funding. This will help increase JGU's national and international competitiveness when it comes to third-party funding and recruiting top-level academics and promising young researchers. This applies in particular with regard to upcoming excellence competitions of the German federal and state governments. "Its JGU's strategic objective to effectively consolidate its position among Germany’s high-profile research universities," said the President of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Professor Georg Krausch. "We aim at attracting further funding in future excellence competitions, preferably in the humanities, cultural studies, and social sciences – in addition to continued funding for our existing PRISMA+ Cluster of Excellence. Moreover, we will work towards increasing the total number of our joint research projects and the average amount of third-party funding."

To achieve these goals, JGU has identified five top-level research areas and eight high-potential research areas by running an internal competition. This was led by the university's Gutenberg Research College (GRC), its central institution for the promotion of top-level research. These top-level and high-potential research areas include joint projects representing JGU's most advanced research fields – alongside existing institutions such as the Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter (PRISMA+) Cluster of Excellence. The top-level research areas are characterized by internationally established teams that have already produced excellent research results over a longer period of time. The quality of their research and personnel gives them a realistic chance of being successful in the national and state excellence competition in five years' time. The high-potential research areas are smaller units. In these, researchers collaborate to develop new research fields that could well make an essential contribution to enhancing JGU's profile in the future. They aim to attract funding for coordinated research programs including, for example, collaborative research centers, research units, and research training groups funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The following areas at JGU will be funded by the research initiative from 1 July 2019:

Top-level research areas:

  • 40.000 Years of Human Challenges: Perception, Conceptualization and Coping in Premodern Societies (Challenges)
  • Mainz Institute of Multiscale Modeling (M3ODEL)
  • ReALity: Resilience, Adaptation and Longevity
  • Sustainable Chemistry as the Key to Innovation in Resource-efficient Science in the Anthropocene (SusInnoScience)
  • TopDyn – Topology and Dynamics

High-potential research areas:

  • Disruption and Democracy in America: Challenges and Potentials of Transcultural and Transnational Formations (OBAMA Institute)
  • Social and Cultural Studies Mainz (SOCUM)
  • Center for Intercultural Studies (ZIS)
  • Figurations of the Nation in the Early Modern Period: Transfer Spaces – Contact Zones – Media (The Nation in the Early Modern Period)
  • Interdisciplinary Public Policy (IPP)
  • Positive Learning at Risk in the Age of Information (PLATO)
  • Terrestrial Magmatic Systems (TeMaS)
  • Center for School, Education, and Higher Education Research (ZSBH)

Since the first three high-potential research areas – the Obama Institute, SOCUM, and ZIS – conduct research in related fields, the plan in the medium term is to merge them into a single platform for cultural studies and social sciences.

Long-term research funding

"Our involvement with the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative, which was launched in 2008, has proven very beneficial for JGU," added JGU President Professor Georg Krausch. "We have made important progress thanks to the boost it has given our research profile." This progress is demonstrated by JGU's steadily increasing expenditure of third-party funding, for example, which has increased from around EUR 77 million in 2008 to EUR 140 million over the past year. Furthermore, JGU proved successful in the Excellence Initiative and Excellence Strategy competitions of the German state and federal governments: Since 2012, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has been home to the only cluster of excellence in Rhineland-Palatinate – PRISMA and its successor PRISMA+. JGU's research track record is also evidenced by its excellent placings in national and international rankings. For example, in the latest DFG Funding Atlas, Mainz University is ranked number one in Germany in the natural sciences and is in the leading international group in the most recent U-Multirank with regard to the number of research publications and the number of patents. "We see the target agreement we have signed now as a means of continuing in this vein. Both the top-level and high-potential research areas represent suitable platforms through which to achieve this," Krausch continued.

The Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative funded by the state's Ministry of Science, Continuing Education, and Culture has supported the four state universities and seven state universities of applied sciences in Rhineland-Palatinate since 2008 and 2010 respectively in the national and international competition for financial support, top-level academics, and promising young researchers. This demonstrates the state's commitment to providing long-term research funding and support.

In the last funding period, the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Initiative focused on supporting strategic institutions, such as the Gutenberg Research College (GRC), and profile-boosting fields of research, known as research centers and research units, today's top-level research areas and high-potential research areas. The Research Initiative also supports universities' collaborations with partners in the fields of science and business, the transfer of knowledge to business and society, and promotion of equality, diversity, and work-life balance.