Courant Research Centres
The University of Göttingen had set up seven Courant Research Centres within the framework of its Institutional Strategy funded in the first program phase of the German Excellence Initiative. The centres took an interdisciplinary approach to address innovative research topics. External experts were involved in the process to identify these topics. Each Courant Research Centre offered excellent working conditions for up to three junior research groups. Supported by senior colleagues, the junior groups were dedicated to studying specific aspects of the centre’s overarching theme.
This novel concept had proven successful in attracting excellent scientists and scholars from all over the world to the Göttingen Campus. Junior research group leaders were offered junior professorships with tenure-track options. Following a positive evaluation, many professors were permanently integrated into their respective faculties.
These positions were particularly attractive to female researchers since they provide a reliable career path, support for dual career couples and measures designed to better reconcile work and family life. 53% of junior research group leaders appointed in the Courant Research Centres were female.
The Courant research centres have proven a viable tool to establish and further develop new research foci. The Courant Research Centres derive their name from the mathematician Richard Courant. Shortly before his death, he was asked about the unique human and scientific spirit that characterizes his Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. Courant’s answer was, “It is Göttingen. Göttingen is here.” This “Göttingen spirit” is the expression for a research environment that is based on cooperation and a free exchange of ideas both within and between the disciplines.