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  • Bielefeld Science Award


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Niklas Luhmann

Niklas Luhmann
© Bielefeld University

Like no other person Niklas Luhmann stands for Bielefeld University where he developed his famous systems theory.

Luhmann was born on December, 8th 1927 in Lüneburg and studied law in Freiburg. On October, 1st 1968 he became Bielefeld University's first professor and subsequently one of the founding members of Bielefeld University's renowned Faculty of Sociology - one of the biggest in Europe!

His work especially his systems theory is considered to be of paramount importance not only to sociology but to humanities and social sciences in general.

His work focusses on the development of a "theory of society" encompassing all relevant aspects of a modern and functionally differentiated society. His theory allows for relating apparently very distant fact and matters. The corpus of his scientific work symbolised by the famous index card is enormous. Luhmann possessed not only of an extensive sociological knowledge, but was also an expert in the fields of law, history and philosophy while being interested in various other scientific areas.

Occasionally, exceeding his scientific work, he commented on controversial societal questions.

In recognition of his work Luhmann was conferred seven honorary doctorates (by the Universities of Gent, Macerata, Bologna, Recife, Lecce, Leuven and Trier). In 1996 he was bestowed Honorary Senator by Bielefeld University.

Luhmann died on November, 6 1998 at the age of 70. Bielefeld University lost one of its most successful scientists reckoned to be the 20th century's most important sociologist. His reputation has contributed significantly to the international standing of Bielefeld University.

Luhmann Portrait

In 1997 on the occasion of Luhmann's 70th anniversary Rudolf Stichweh, successor on Luhmann's chair, wrote a comprehensive article (in German) on Luhman which was published in Bielefeld University's journal.

Luhmann Archive

The project "Niklas Luhmann - A Passion for Theory." run by the Faculty of Sociology in collaboration with the Luhmann Archive, Bielefeld University's Library and the Cologne Center for eHumanities (CCeH) and funded by the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts aims at publishing Luhmann's literary estate and making it accessible for research. Click here for more information.

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