The ZiF was there from the start. 50 years ago the Center for interdisciplinary Research was founded as the nucleus of the new University at Bielefeld. The sociologist Helmut Schelsky, founding father of both the ZiF and the University, thus introduced a novel element into the German and European university landscape: an Institute for Advanced Study. Schelsky borrowed some inspiration for it from the institutes in Princeton and Stanford – successfully: Today, the ZiF looks back on 50 years of experience in organising and supporting cross-disciplinary international research on the highest level. Several Nobel Prize laureates have worked at the ZiF, which in turn has served as a model for numerous similar institutes worldwide.
During the first years the ZiF was housed in Rheda castle, in 1973 it moved to the purpose-built campus above the university on the slopes of the Teutoburg Forest. Next to offices and function rooms this contains apartments for Fellows working at the ZiF in interdisciplinary groups. Many research projects pursued at the ZiF have had great scientific impact and opened new research areas.
More about the ZiF's history: here
The ZiF forms part of Bielefeld University, but there is no academic teaching; instead researchers concentrate on working together on innovative projects devised by themselves. The convenors of research groups present their ideas in an application and, if this turns out successful, can invite colleagues to the ZiF for an academic year (for Research Groups) or for a shorter period (for Cooperation Groups) to carry out research together with them, free from everyday academic constraints.
More about the current Research Groups: here
For young postdocs the ZiF runs a special programme: the Young ZiF.
An overview of the ZiF's working formats is given here.
Besides the ZIF is a lively conference center and hosts public events such as lectures, art exhibitions and the yearly ZiF-Conference. Taken together, these activities bring about 3,000 guests per year to the ZIF.
In 2018 the ZiF celebrates its 50 years-jubilee with three special events, starting with a lecture by Prof. Dr. Dieter Timmermann, rector of Bielefeld University for many years, on 15th June:
Ein halbes Jahrhundert: Drei Bielefelder Gründungsjubiläen in Wissenschaft, Kunst und Wirtschaft.
On 10th October there will be the opening of the exhibitionDie Grazie der Erkenntnisgrenze by Sandra Boeschenstein, an artist from Zurich who has worked as artist-in-residence at the ZiF in 2017.
The 50th anniversary provides a good opportunity to look both back and ahead. Therefore, the ceremonial colloquium on 16th November will be devoted to Future Knowledge.