University of Greifswald

The story of the University of Greifswald begins in the mid-15th century, a time of great change and upheaval in Europe. The Hundred Years’ War had just ended, the printing press was revolutionizing the dissemination of knowledge, and the Renaissance was beginning to take hold in Italy and beyond.

It was in this context that Heinrich Rubenow, the mayor of Greifswald and a local scholar, began to dream of establishing a university in his hometown. Rubenow was a man of great vision and determination, and he saw the creation of a university as a way to promote learning, advance the cause of the church, and bring prestige and economic benefits to the city.

To turn his dream into a reality, Rubenow enlisted the support of several key allies. One of these was Duke Wartislaw IX of Pomerania, the ruler of the region in which Greifswald was located. Wartislaw saw the establishment of a university as a way to strengthen his own power and influence, and he agreed to provide financial and political support for the project.

Another key supporter was Pope Callixtus III, who issued a papal bull in 1456 granting permission for the establishment of a university in Greifswald. The pope saw the university as a way to promote the spread of Catholic teachings and combat the growing influence of heretical movements such as the Hussites.

With the backing of these powerful figures, Rubenow set about the task of creating the University of Greifswald. He recruited scholars from across Europe to serve as the university’s first faculty members, and he worked to secure funding and resources to support the institution’s growth and development.

On October 17, 1456, the University of Greifswald was officially inaugurated in a ceremony attended by the duke, the bishop, and other dignitaries. The university began with four faculties: theology, law, medicine, and philosophy. These faculties were housed in a series of buildings in the heart of the city, including a former Franciscan monastery that served as the university’s main building.

In the early years of its existence, the University of Greifswald faced many challenges. The city was ravaged by the plague in the late 15th century, and the university was forced to close its doors for a time. There were also ongoing tensions between the university and the city council, which sometimes clashed over issues of jurisdiction and funding.

Despite these difficulties, the University of Greifswald managed to establish itself as a respected center of learning in the region. It attracted students and scholars from across northern Europe, and it became known for its strong programs in theology, law, and the humanities.

One of the most notable figures associated with the University of Greifswald in its early years was Johannes Bugenhagen, a theologian and reformer who played a key role in the Protestant Reformation. Bugenhagen studied at the university in the early 16th century and later went on to become a close associate of Martin Luther. He helped to establish Lutheran churches and schools across northern Germany and Scandinavia, and his influence can still be felt in the region today.

Evolution Over the Centuries

As the University of Greifswald entered the 16th century, it found itself at the center of a major religious and political upheaval: the Protestant Reformation. Like many other universities in northern Europe, Greifswald was deeply affected by the spread of Lutheran ideas and the resulting conflicts between Protestants and Catholics.

Initially, the university tried to remain neutral in the religious debates of the time. However, as the Reformation gained momentum, it became increasingly difficult for the institution to avoid taking sides. In 1526, the university officially adopted Lutheranism as its official religion, and many of its faculty members became active supporters of the Protestant cause.

The Reformation had a profound impact on the University of Greifswald in many ways. It led to a significant shift in the curriculum, with a greater emphasis on the study of the Bible and the works of Lutheran theologians. It also brought about changes in the university’s governance and funding, as the institution became more closely tied to the Protestant rulers of Pomerania.

Despite these changes, the University of Greifswald continued to thrive and grow throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It expanded its facilities and programs, and it attracted a diverse group of students and scholars from across Europe.

One of the most notable developments of this period was the establishment of the university’s botanical garden in 1586. The garden was created as a resource for the study of medicinal plants and other botanical specimens, and it quickly became one of the most important centers of botanical research in northern Europe.

The University of Greifswald also played a significant role in the scientific revolution of the 17th century. Many of its faculty members were active participants in the new scientific societies and academies that were emerging across Europe, and they made important contributions to fields such as astronomy, physics, and mathematics.

However, the university also faced significant challenges during this time. The Thirty Years’ War, which ravaged much of central Europe from 1618 to 1648, had a devastating impact on the region, and the University of Greifswald was not spared. The city was occupied by Swedish forces for much of the war, and the university suffered significant damage and disruption as a result.

Despite these setbacks, the University of Greifswald managed to rebound and rebuild in the aftermath of the war. The 18th century brought a period of renewed growth and prosperity, as the university expanded its facilities and programs and attracted a new generation of students and scholars.

One of the most significant developments of this period was the construction of several iconic buildings that still stand today. The Main Building, which was completed in 1748, is a stunning example of Baroque architecture and serves as the centerpiece of the university’s campus. The University Church, which dates back to the 13th century but was extensively renovated in the 18th century, is another important landmark and a symbol of the university’s long and storied history.

Throughout its history, the University of Greifswald has always maintained a close relationship with the city and region in which it is located. The university has played a vital role in the intellectual and cultural life of Pomerania, and it has produced generations of scholars, leaders, and innovators who have shaped the course of history in Germany and beyond.

Today, the University of Greifswald is a modern, dynamic institution that is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, and service. While it has undergone many changes and transformations over the centuries, it remains true to its core mission of promoting knowledge, understanding, and the betterment of society.

Academic Profile

The University of Greifswald is organized into five faculties, each of which is home to a wide range of departments, institutes, and research centers. These faculties are:

  1. Faculty of Theology: The Faculty of Theology is one of the oldest and most prestigious faculties at the University of Greifswald. It offers programs in biblical studies, church history, systematic theology, and practical theology, and it is home to several important research centers and archives.
  2. Faculty of Law and Economics: The Faculty of Law and Economics is another key component of the university, offering programs in business, economics, and law. It is home to several important research centers, including the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Institute for East European Law.
  3. Faculty of Arts and Humanities: The Faculty of Arts and Humanities is the largest faculty at the University of Greifswald, with programs in a wide range of disciplines, including history, philosophy, literature, linguistics, and cultural studies. It is home to several important research centers and institutes, such as the Interdisciplinary Center for Baltic Sea Region Studies and the Institute for Slavic Studies.
  4. Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences: The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences is a hub of scientific research and education at the University of Greifswald. It offers programs in fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science, and it is home to several state-of-the-art research facilities and laboratories.
  5. Faculty of Medicine: The Faculty of Medicine is one of the most important and prestigious faculties at the University of Greifswald. It offers programs in medicine, dentistry, and health sciences, and it is home to several important research centers and clinics, such as the Center for Functional Genomics of Microbes and the University Medical Center Greifswald.

Within these faculties, there are numerous departments, institutes, and research centers that focus on specific areas of study and research. For example, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities includes departments such as the Department of English and American Studies, the Department of German Literature and Linguistics, and the Department of Philosophy. The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences includes departments such as the Department of Biology, the Department of Physics, and the Department of Computer Science.

In addition to these traditional academic departments, the University of Greifswald is also home to several interdisciplinary centers and institutes that bring together scholars from different fields to work on complex problems and challenges. For example, the Interdisciplinary Center for Baltic Sea Region Studies brings together experts from fields such as history, politics, economics, and environmental science to study the complex social, cultural, and ecological issues facing the Baltic Sea region.

One of the university’s particular strengths is its focus on Pomeranian history and culture. As the oldest university in the region, Greifswald has a long tradition of scholarship and research on the history, language, and culture of Pomerania. The university is home to several important archives and collections related to Pomeranian history, including the Pomeranian State Museum and the Pomeranian Library.

Another area of focus for the University of Greifswald is environmental science and sustainability. Given its location on the Baltic Sea coast, the university has a natural interest in issues related to marine biology, coastal ecology, and sustainable development. The university is home to several important research centers and institutes in this area, including the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) and the Institute for Botany and Landscape Ecology.

The University of Greifswald is also known for its strengths in the field of plasma physics. The university is home to the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, which is one of the world’s leading centers for research on fusion energy and plasma science. The institute attracts top researchers from around the world and has made many important contributions to our understanding of this complex and important field.

Research Achievements

Throughout its long history, the University of Greifswald has been at the forefront of many important scientific discoveries and innovations. Its faculty and students have made significant contributions to fields ranging from medicine and biology to physics and mathematics, and their work has had a lasting impact on the world of science and scholarship.

One of the earliest and most significant discoveries associated with the University of Greifswald was the development of homeopathy by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century. Hahnemann was a physician and chemist who studied at the University of Greifswald and later went on to develop the principles of homeopathic medicine, which are still widely used today.

Another important figure in the history of medicine at the University of Greifswald was Friedrich Loeffler, a bacteriologist who made several groundbreaking discoveries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Loeffler was the first to identify the bacteria that cause diphtheria and foot-and-mouth disease, and his work laid the foundation for the development of vaccines and treatments for these diseases.

In the field of physics, the University of Greifswald has also made many important contributions. One of the most notable examples is the work of Werner Heisenberg, who studied at the university in the early 20th century and went on to become one of the founders of quantum mechanics. Heisenberg’s work revolutionized our understanding of the subatomic world and earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932.

More recently, researchers at the University of Greifswald have made important discoveries in fields such as materials science, renewable energy, and biotechnology. For example, in 2019, a team of researchers from the university’s Institute of Physics developed a new type of solar cell that is more efficient and cost-effective than existing technologies. The new solar cell uses a novel combination of materials and manufacturing techniques, and it has the potential to greatly expand the use of solar power around the world.

In addition to these specific discoveries and innovations, the University of Greifswald is also known for its strong culture of research collaboration and interdisciplinary scholarship. Many of the university’s research centers and institutes bring together scholars from different fields to work on complex problems and challenges, and this approach has led to many important breakthroughs and insights over the years.

One example of this interdisciplinary approach is the Greifswald Mire Centre, which is a research network that studies the ecology and conservation of peatlands around the world. Peatlands are important ecosystems that store large amounts of carbon and play a key role in regulating the Earth’s climate, and the Greifswald Mire Centre brings together researchers from fields such as ecology, hydrology, and soil science to study these complex systems and develop strategies for their protection and management.

Teaching Philosophy and Student Life

At the University of Greifswald, teaching and learning are at the heart of everything we do. Our faculty are dedicated to providing our students with a high-quality education that prepares them for successful careers and fulfilling lives, and we believe that this starts with a student-centered approach to teaching and learning.

One of the key strengths of the University of Greifswald is our low student-to-faculty ratio, which allows for close interaction and individualized attention in the classroom. With Technical University Berlin an average ratio of just 15 students per faculty member, our students have the opportunity to work closely with their professors and receive personalized feedback and guidance throughout their studies.

We also believe in the importance of hands-on, experiential learning, and we offer a wide range of opportunities for our students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings. Many of our programs include internships, field work, research projects, and other experiential learning components that allow students to gain practical experience and build their professional networks.

In addition to these experiential learning opportunities, we also offer a range of support services and resources to help our students succeed academically and personally. These include academic advising, tutoring, and mentoring programs, as well as counseling and mental health services, disability support services, and career development resources.

One of the things that sets the University of Greifswald apart is our vibrant and diverse student life. With over 10,000 students from more than 90 countries around the world, our campus is a melting pot of cultures, perspectives, and ideas. We believe that this diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and we work hard to create an inclusive and welcoming community where all students can thrive.

To support this diverse student body, we offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and programs that cater to a variety of interests and backgrounds. These include more than 100 student clubs and organizations, ranging from sports teams and music ensembles to political and cultural groups. We also host a variety of events and activities throughout the year, such as lectures, concerts, film screenings, and cultural festivals, that bring together students, faculty, and members of the wider community.

One of the most popular and long-standing traditions at the University of Greifswald is the “Fuchstaufe”, or “Fox Baptism”, which is an annual initiation ceremony for first-year students. During the ceremony, new students dress up in fox costumes and are “baptized” with a bucket of water, symbolizing their entry into the university community. The tradition dates back to the 19th century and is a beloved part of student life at Greifswald.

Another important aspect of student life at the University of Greifswald is our commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. As a university located on the Baltic Sea coast, we have a special obligation to protect and preserve the natural environment, and we have made sustainability a key priority in all aspects of our operations.