From the Marx and Moritz University to the center of marine and climate research

You have to come up with such an idea first: When the 1971 the inaugurated University of Bremen should subsequently get a swimming pool for its sports students, it was temporarily considered instead of one 50 – one meter track only 49 – create a meter lane – “so that the pleasure of swimming does not degenerate in the competition”, as the professor of German studies i. R. Wendula Dahle related. Just no capitalist competition: That was how the reform university was thought at the time. In the end she got the competitive 49 meters.

This Thursday the university celebrates its 50. Birthday, and this will certainly also remember those wild early years, in which she had earned the reputation of a “Red Kaderschmiede”. At that time, the concrete castle on the green meadow was supposed to counteract the “musty under the gowns” and the non-practical research with a “science in the service of the people”. Democratization, equalization and humanization of society ”. The FDP, which was co-ruling in Bremen at the time, saw enemies of the constitution at work and therefore left its coalition with Hans Koschnick’s SPD shortly before the university opened.

Reform university? Many preferred to plan the revolution

In fact, some teachers and students at the time thought more of revolution than reform. Long before the opening, the self-deprecating term “Marx and Moritz University” was circulating, with Moritz referring to Bremen’s Senator for Education Moritz Thape (SPD). The rebellion against social conditions had consequences: The German Research Foundation (DFG) did not want to support the rebellious Bremen residents with research funds. Union-governed federal states refused to recognize the teaching staff examination.

The SPD government in Bremen was gradually getting a little queasy. She let more moderate candidates fill new professorships. 1977 it abolished a particularly controversial trademark: the equal participation of teachers, learners and non-academic staff. Because the Federal Constitutional Court and the Bremen State Court considered such a third parity unconstitutional.

Under Education Senator Horst-Werner Franke (SPD) and the 1982 Rector Jürgen Timm, who was introduced to the post, began a kind of counter-reform: the university opened up to the economy. Daimler top manager Werner Niefer 1988 was even awarded an honorary doctorate – as a thank you for the Bremen Mercedes – Factory.

Am Hauptgebäude der Universität Bremen sind Transparente angebracht, mit denen der Elitetitel gefeiert wird.

Excellent. From … to 2019 the University of Bremen was funded as a University of Excellence. Photo: Promo / University of Bremen

1992 then ended the nationwide unique reform project of one-stage legal training without legal clerkship. The natural and engineering sciences were increasingly expanded. A technology park was created around the university with over 500 high-tech Companies.

So the thorn in the flesh of higher education turned into a fairly normal, but also respected mass university with currently over 19 000 students. Since 1977, the DFG has no longer treated the people of Bremen like lepers, but is currently funding the Weser Five Collaborative Research Centers.

Good reputation in the geosciences, marine and climate research

When raising such third-party funding, the university stands for Year nationwide on one of the top ranks. With the reformed Reform University as the engine, Bremen 2005 won the title “City of Science”, an award from Donors’ association for German science supported by the economy. From … to 2019 the university even belonged to the illustrious circle of the eleven German “excellence universities”.

It also enjoys a good reputation internationally, for example in the geosciences or in marine and climate research . It is the only German university to be involved in the international “International Universities Climate Alliance”. In any case, Rector Bernd Scholz-Reiter thinks his university is more progressive and more competitive than many older ones.

“There is a recognizable Bremen spirit.” The founding principles still practiced today such as interdisciplinarity and research Learning was later taken up by other universities, so Scholz-Reiter to the “Weser-Kurier”.

The retired economics professor Rudolf Hickel (79), there from the beginning and still present in the media, speaks of a “sustainable success story”. The start-up has “impressively prevailed” against the prejudices of the “families of the traditional Hanseatic economy who preferred to send their sons to their friends’ offices in London rather than to the university”.

Two issues have remained for years Controversial: The founding consensus also included not doing research with more highly developed animals. But since 1998 they have been experimenting with living monkeys here. And since 1982 a resolution of the university senate to “reject research topics and funds that Can serve armaments purposes ”. Nevertheless, individual university institutes cooperate with companies that earn their money with military contracts Board member Dominik Lange. The practical relevance, research-based learning, is only available in very few courses, says Lange. He would like the university to “show more edge again, a political stance”.

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