Brief portrait of the Faculty Humanities and Cultural Studies in Göttingen

The Faculty of Humanities combines the humanities and cultural studies at the University of Göttingen. Here, “culture” is understood to be the sum of all things and conceptions that humankind has gained in the course of its history and used to find its own significance – language, pictures, sounds, social rules, religions, aesthetics, contemplation of its own existence – but also transcending boundaries through science and discovery of the world.

It is the largest Faculty in Göttingen, with 90 professors, over 4000 students and more than 40 subjects with over 300 possible combinations. It regularly obtains top places in rankings both in Germany and internationally. The excellent research achievements of its members make important contributions to current social debates such as those concerning migration, religion or the coexistence of cultures.

The 28 seminar courses and institutes and 9 science conferences analyse questions related to the history of humanity, culture and religion, as well as of numerous European and non-European cultures, languages and literatures. The variety of disciplines and topics represented makes it possible to cover a wide spectrum of the testimonies and processes of human culture in its historical depth and global range.

The Faculty enjoys an international atmosphere, thanks to its over 500 international students, doctoral candidates and visiting scientists, its broad range of European and non-European philology studies, as well as the great amount of international cooperation in teaching and research.

What distinguishes us

The Faculty enjoys an international atmosphere, thanks to its subject spectrum, its more than 500 international students, doctoral candidates and visiting scientists, as well as the great amount of international cooperation in teaching and research.

At present, the Faculty of Humanities, with its seminar courses and institutes, maintains over 200 partnerships and co-operation projects with universities and other research institutions worldwide. These include partnership agreements with the University of California (Berkeley, USA), the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), as well as with a number of Chinese universities. We co-operate in Russia with the country's most important universities, the Lomonosov University (Moscow) and the State University in St. Petersburg.

The Faculty of Humanities enjoys special international visibility in the area of German Philology, History, cross-disciplinary research in Religion, Transregional Research in Modern and Pre-Modern Cultures from the Mediterranean Region to East Asia, as well as with respect to its academic collections as an instrument of research.

We are currently expanding the double degree programmes on offer, as well as the cotutelle courses of study and joint doctoral studies. Furthermore, the Faculty of Humanities provided scholarships for “Researchers at Risk” in 2017, which were awarded for the first time in 2018.

The Faculty of Humanities of the University of Göttingen is one of the most highly performing complete faculties in the Humanities and Cultural Studies in Germany. The range of disciplines and topics represented in the Faculty makes it possible to cover a wide spectrum of testimonies and processes of human culture in its historical depth and global range.

Its wide range consists in a wealth of European and non-European philology studies, history, object and art-related courses, cultural studies disciplines and philosophy. The time spectrum of the disciplines on offer ranges from the ancient and early history to the present.

A speciality of this Faculty among other German universities is the high number of “smaller” and rare disciplines with old anthropology. Its pronounced Eurasian profile, with comprehensive expertise in the languages and cultures of Europe, the Mediterranean region and Asia, is also extraordinary.

The Faculty of Humanities is one of the founding faculties of the University of Göttingen. Disciplines such as Classical and Ancient Studies, Archaeology, German Philology or Art History, that are taught worldwide today, were first established in Göttingen as professorships. Stalwarts such as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Dorothea Schlözer and Jürgen Habermas have studied at the Faculty.

Today, the Faculty of Humanities is the largest Faculty in Göttingen with about 4000 students and has several international experts among its 90 professors. At its core is the Kulturwissenschaftliche Zentrum (KWZ) (Centre for Cultural Studies). Since 2012, it has united under a single roof numerous institutes and seminar courses related to the humanities and cultural studies, as well as the departmental library for cultural studies with more than 750,000 titles.

The topic of digitalisation plays an important role at the Faculty: In addition to the Göttinger Centre for Digital Humanities (GCDH), various projects for the integration of digital contents and methods into teaching are currently under way. A new “Institute for Digital Humanities” was also established in the Faculty in 2018 that addresses the areas of “Text”, “Language” and “Objects” in an exemplary manner. A corresponding master course of study is being planned.

True to the university's motto, in publica commoda ("For the good of all"), teaching and research at the Faculty of Humanities are also characterized by a sensitivity to socially relevant topics and questions.

Through their attempt to understand human action in times and regions both past and present, the humanities and cultural studies make a significant contribution to making us aware of the conditions under which we think and value ourselves, an elementary ability for a tolerant and pluralistic world today and tomorrow.

One example of such work at the Faculty is the Laboratory for Critical Migration and Border Regime Research. When presenting projects and research results to the public, faculty members use various formats which are generally easy to access, such as exhibitions – also held outside the university – and contributions via traditional and social media.


The Faculty has a clear Eurasian profile, meaning it possesses wide-ranging and varied expertise on Europe and the Mediterranean region up as far as East Asia, an agglomeration of advanced civilisations, world religions, ethnicities and languages, which is being discussed intensively at present in the intensified efforts to shape a global history.

This profile has stabilised over many years in various centres, alliances and courses of study. It's not surprising! Anyone reading a newspaper today has far more to do with the competence area of a Turkologist, Arabist, migration researcher or East Asia expert than they did 30 years ago.

With a historical depth ranging from ancient studies to the challenges of the present, the Faculty of Humanities Göttingen is one of only four universities in Germany to cover such a broad period of time and geographical area.


There is special thematic focus in teaching and Research on the areas

An inter-faculty cluster proposal on "The Making and Unmaking of the Religious", the result of various centres and joint projects, with the participation of ten Principal Investigators and other associated researchers from the Faculty of Humanities, was launched in the years 2015-2017. The objective of the cluster is interdisciplinary religious research, based on an open concept of religion and focusing on the practices of regulation, demarcation and the discursive negotiation of the religious. In September 2017, the applicants were invited to submit a full proposal, whereby the pre-proposal and the participating research consortium were certified as having "high international visibility".

The Faculty of Humanities has taken this decision as an opportunity to expand interdisciplinary and transregional religious research in future structural policy by means of targeted appointments to an internationally visible focus of the Faculty. Additional professorships are planned for rabbinic Judaism and research in Buddhism, as well as the establishment of an “Institute for Jewish Studies”. From 2022, Turkish Studies will also be extended, with an orientation towards research on modern Turkey with a focus on religious studies.


The research contributions from the subjects of Arabic Studies/Islamic Studies, Modern Indian Studies, East Asian Studies, Iranian Studies, Turkish Studies and Classical Studies are the main contributors to the Faculty's profile in this area. These are institutionalised in the Centrum Orbis Orientalis et Occidentalis (CORO) – Centre of Antiquity and Orient, the Centre for Modern East Asian Studies (CeMEAS), as well as the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS). Moreover, there are also several transregional degree programmes.

The Centrum Orbis Orientalis et Occidentalis - Centre for Antiquity and the Orient is an academic institution supported jointly by the Georg-August-University of Göttingen and the Academy of Science and Humanities of Göttingen. Scientists and scholars of the Faculties of Humanity and Theology are part of the centre. Its special profile is the concentration on the phenomenon of religion in ancient and oriental cultures from its beginnings up to classical Islam, with perspectives reaching into the present.

The Centre for Modern Indian Studies is dedicated to the research and teaching of economic and political developments in modern India. The topics of “Metamorphosis of Politics”, “Religion”, “Inequality and Diversity”, “Work and Capital in Modern India”, as well as “Media and Publicity”, form the focus of the research interests of six professors and more than 25 research assistants and doctoral candidates/students from the disciplines of History, Political Science, Religious Studies, Ethnology, Development Economics and Ethnology of Public Healthcare.

The aim of the Centre for Modern East Asian Studies is to undertake research into recent and contemporary developments in the East Asian region, particularly beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. Therefore, the Centre facilitates multi-regional and multi-disciplinary research projects and brings together the expertise of various disciplines and Area Studies. The main topics are: State and Market in Contemporary East Asia, Nation and Notions in Modern East Asia, Rural China, Law in China, as well as Environment and Public Space in East Asia.


In recent years, the Göttingen model has evolved as a post-national synthesis of philology studies in literary studies. A rootedness in the philological foundations of the various languages is here aligned with transnational perspectives.

This is reflected, for example, in the establishment of the new B.A. degree programme "World Literature" (2018), the participation of Göttingen scholars in the Institute for World Literature (Harvard), and the co-designing of the new, comparative "Literary Studies Symposia" of the German Research Foundation by the Göttingen literary scholar Prof. Dr. Heinrich Detering.


One focus of the Faculty is the academic examination of objects, works of art, music and film in subjects such as musicology, art history, classical/early Christian archaeology, prehistory and early history, history or cultural anthropology.

A professorship on "Materiality of Knowledge" was established in 2016, which will further foster the integration of these subjects with topics from other disciplines (object history, visual anthropology, material culture, etc.) and help to strengthen the hermeneutic potential of objects as a key question of the humanities and cultural studies in the Faculty.

Activities in these areas have resulted in third-party funding and transfer projects in the history of collections and science, participation in the (DFG Excellence Initiative) Collaborative Research Centre "Education and Religion", the (DFG Excellence Initiative) Research Training Group "Knowledge | Exhibiting" and in the cluster proposal for the Excellence Initiative on the topic "The Making and Unmaking of the Religious".

The contents of the Faculty's nine collections are being digitalised gradually and will form part of the newly developing "Forum Wissen", the future knowledge museum of the Georg-August-University. In addition, cooperation takes place with almost all major museums in the area (including Kassel, Braunschweig, Hanover, Hildesheim).


The focus "Language, Cognition and Knowledge" brings together the activities of the Faculty's linguistic professorships and links them with the professorships of Literary Theory, Psychology of Language, Philosophy of Language and Digital Humanities. It therefore forms part of the university research focus of “Language and Cognition”, dedicated to research into the cognitive linguistic capability of man and the procedural processing of language and text.
The expansion of the object of investigation from word and sentence structures to (literary) texts has shaped the Göttinger profile and, at the same time, forms the basis for the internationally visible and nationally unique collaboration between grammar theory, literary theory, theoretical philosophy and cognitive psychology. An interdisciplinary centre for “Text structures: Analysis and Processing” is being planned.