• Fünfzig Jahre Universität Bielefeld 1969 - 2019

    © Universität Bielefeld

Anniversary Conference

During the two-day conference «The Theoretical University»in the Data Age. Have the great theories become obsolete? on 14—15 November, the future of theories and theory formation in the age of Big Data will be discussed.

Philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright (Durham/San Diego) and string theorist Robbert Dijkgraaf (Princeton) have confirmed their attendance as keynote speakers.

In addition, there will be four parallel panel sessions with a variety of lectures on the following topics: Theorizing Contemporary Society, Contemporary Text Cultures, Big Data: From Machine Learning to Quantum Computing, and Interdisciplinary Models for a Complex World.

An interdisciplinary panel will discuss questions relating to theory formation and its scope in different academic disciplines. To conclude the conference, stakeholders from academia and politics will discuss the relationship between independent research, good governance, and the increasing economization of science in the data age.

In the run-up to the anniversary conference, the open-topic conference Student research: students do science is taking place. Further information

Date: 14–15.11.2019

Where: Audimax and lecture lecture halls in the Main University Building (UHG)

When: all-day

Conference languages: English (E), German (G)

Thursday, 14 November 2019

18:00 (start 18:15), Audimax

Opening Keynote (E)
Robbert Dijkgraaf (Princeton): The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge and the Importance of Basic Research


Subsequently, in Central Hall East



Friday, 15 November 2019

09:00 (c.t.), Audimax 

Keynote Lecture (E)
Nancy Cartwright (Durham/San Diego):
Why Big Theories are Here to Stay

10:30 –13:30, lecture halls in the Main University Building (UHG)

Panel A: Theorizing Contemporary Society. Challenges and Perspectives (E)

(Organized by:: Sina Farzin, Hamburg; Julian Go, Boston; Tobias Werron, Bielefeld)

  • Stephan Lessenich (München): Relations Matter: World Systems Theory and Beyond
  • Julian Go (Boston): Globalizing Social Theory
  • Sina Farzin (Hamburg): Theorising or Diagnosing the Present? Two Genres of Sociological Thinking
  • Discussant: Uwe Schimank (Bremen)
  • Moderator: Tobias Werron (Bielefeld)

Panel B: Contemporary Text Cultures: Theoretical Perspectives of Historical Text Studies (G)

(Organized by: Franz-Josef Arlinghaus, Lars Deile, Silke Schwandt, Carlos Spoerhase, Véronique Zanetti)

  • Michael N. Forster (Bonn): Humboldts Modell der Universität im digitalen Zeitalter
  • Bernhard Jussen (Frankfurt/Main): Philologische Sozialisation und die Zumutungen des „Digital“. Probleme eines (vielleicht) Paradigmenwechsels in den „Humanities“
  • Andrea Rapp (Darmstadt): Materialität - Digitalität - Textualtät. Kategorien modellieren

Panel C: Big Data: From Machine Learning to Quantum Computing (E)
(Organized by: Dario Anselmetti, Barbara Hammer)

  • 10:30-10:40    Brief Panel Introduction (Barbara Hammer, Dario Anselmetti)

  • 10:40-11:30    Kristian Kersting (TU Darmstadt): Data Science & Machine Learning

  • 11:30-11:50    Coffee break

  • 11:50-12:40    Christian Bauckhage (IAIS Fraunhofer, Sankt Augustin): Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

  • 12:40-13:30    Carlo Beenakker (Leiden University): Quantum Computing

Panel D: Interdisciplinary Models for a Complex World 
(Organized by: Martin Carrier, Armin Gölzhäuser, Marie I. Kaiser)

  • Paul Humphreys (Charlottesville): tbc
  • Kurt Kremer (Mainz): Random Walks: The Role of Topological Constraints in Physics and Beyond
  • Franjo Weissing (Groningen): The Causes and Consequences of Individual Differences
13:30 –14:30 Lunch break

14:45 –16:15, Audimax

Panel discussion: The Role of Theory in Different Disciplines (E)

Discussants from the different panels

Moderator: Manuela Lenzen

16:15 –17:00, Central Hall East

Coffee break

17:00 –18:30, Audimax

Political roundtable debate: How Should Academia be Governed in the Data Age? Good Governance vs Economization (G)

with Robert Dijkgraaf (Princeton), Dieter Imboden (Zürich), Ada Pellert (Hagen), Eva Quante-Brandt (Bremen), Gerhard Sagerer (Bielefeld)

Moderator: Benedikt Schulz (Cologne)

18:30 End of Conference

Information: The rectorate wishes to enable all lecturers and students to attend the two conferences. Courses scheduled for 14 and 15 November should be postponed or—if the study programme allows—cancelled. The rectorate expressly encourages lecturers to take part in the conferences together with their students. Students should not suffer any disadvantage for participating.



Scientific Board

Professor Dr Herbert Dawid

Professor Dr Angelika Epple (chair of Scientific Board)

Professor Dr Kai Kauffmann

Dr. Britta Padberg

Professor Dr Günter Reiss


Anniversary Programme Coordinator: Thomas Abel