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Bielefeld University in the Excellence Initiative

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Bielefeld University is one of Germany's strongest research universities within a focussed spectrum of transdisciplinary fields encompassing not only the humanities and social sciences but also the natural and technological sciences. One confirmation of this is given by the Excellence Initiative with which the German federal and state governments are promoting top-level research in Germany. Bielefeld University has been hosting a Centre of Excellence on Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) and a Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) since 2007. CITEC is receiving 6.5 million Euros a year; BGHS more than one million. Following the first two phases (2006 and 2007) of this the most renowned and strongly funded research programme, these two institutions contribute to making Bielefeld one of the successful universities. It ranks third place in North Rhine-Westphalia.

+ CITEC - Cognitive Interaction Technology

Technology that understands
The vision guiding scientists working at CITEC is to build technology that understands. Future machines should adapt to human beings rather than - as before - human beings having to adapt to machines. And these range from everyday tools to robots. Machines have to meet the basic preconditions of interacting naturally with human beings and adapting their abilities flexibly to changing surroundings. These are the basic principles, and pioneering research on cognitive interaction technology is the necessary way to achieve this. One aspect is the search for the fundamental architectural principles of cognitive interaction between human beings and machines. This challenge can only by met through interdisciplinary cooperation between the greatest range of different disciplines. CITEC brings together scientists working in the Faculties of Biology, Linguistics and Literary Studies, Physics, Psychology and Sports Science, and Technology.

+ BGHS - Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology

High-Profile Doctorate
Individuality, creativity and personal initiative - at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology these attributes are strongly emphasized. 160 doctoral candidates of history and sociology study and research here together under one roof. They profit from the broad thematic variety BGHS has to offer. The staging of media potrayals, social changes, and historical and political processes of change are some of their main research fields. However, uncommon dissertation intentions are also welcome here at BGHS. For example, the relationship between the church and dancing or the functions and symbolism of tattoos.

The graduate school considers itself as a researching community of doctoral candidates and professors. That is also what the bottom-up principle stands for, which emphasizes personal initiative and codetermination of the doctoral candidates. They organize workshops and conferences of their own and have an influence on the content of teaching. This is how a culture of creativity and exchange is established, in which young scientists can lay solid groundstones for their future careers.

In the third phase of the Excellence Initiative in which the German federal and state governments are promoting science and research at German universities, Bielefeld University has won through to the second review stage with a proposed Cluster of Excellence drafted predominantly by sociologists and historians. A final decision was reached in June 2012.