The Transdisciplinary University: Kiel University Interfaces

As a pluralistic and research-intensive university offering the full spectrum of academic disciplines, Kiel University has pursued an unusual path of internal differentiation over this past decade. This profiling process emerged from the concentration and interconnection of disciplinary knowledge spaces, the Interfaces.


The "Kiel Way"

"Kiel University Interfaces" -  with this strategy, the CAU is pursuing a special approach - the "Kiel Way". It is based on an open-minded dialogue and cooperation between the subjects (interdisciplinarity), as well as fruitful collaborations with the society, politics and business and strategic partners (transdisciplinarity). 

As Schleswig-Holstein’s state university with a unique excellent research environment infrastructure, outstanding researchers, students and employees Kiel University invites everybody to come together – at the campus, the city and the region.

© Renate Nikolaus, Uni Kiel

The KITE (Kiel Inter- and Transdisciplinary Exploration) stands for numerous measures to strengthen Kiel University's interfaces in future.

Opening up new areas, building bridges, supporting people

To support individuals, to advance their careers and to open up new areas of knowledge together with them, Kiel University creates ‘Ermöglichungsräume’ (enabling spaces), which will accelerate trans-faculty research cultures. These spaces enable encounters and exchanges among disciplinary academic cultures and promote their joint research activities.

For Kiel University, creating interfaces is the key to its success, and will also remain its particular strength in the future. Interfaces open up areas and build bridges - for example, between individual research groups, disciplines and faculties, but also between the CAU, our society, politics and business.

© Jürgen Haacks, Uni Kiel 2017

The Seeburg is located directly at the entrance to the Kiellinie promenade and will become an interface for the Centre for Science Transfer, right in the heart of Kiel.

Driving innovation in the region

With various architectural, structural and personal measures, the CAU as  transdiciplinary University aims to support the emergence of new interfaces for all its members. The prerequisite for this is that the people have the opportunity to meet each other, to exchange ideas - and are given the space, as well as the facilities, to jointly develop innovative approaches and follow new paths. The university management supports them here.



With this, Kiel University also assumes the role of a key driver for innovation in the region, implementing a wide variety of measures aimed at collaboration with society. Over the next few years, the CAU will define a new townscape through its campus-city construction developments (Kiel.Science.City). Through this, they will stimulate knowledge transfer on all levels, from shared meeting spaces to intellectual discourse and new participation opportunities.

Success in the Excellence Strategy 2019

As one of only 17 top German universities and two university consortia, the CAU was able to acquire two Clusters as part of the German Excellence Strategy: "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI)  and "ROOTS - Societal, Environmental and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies”. They will be funded with around 100 million euros until the end of 2025. Kiel University was therefore also entitled to apply for the title "University of Excellence". The design of the application followed the guiding principle of the "Kiel Way" as a collaborative process in a permanent dialogue between the University Board, committees, status groups, institutions and numerous university members. Even though CAU is not one of the selected Universities of Excellence in this round of the Excellence Strategy, the process has moved a lot at the university. According to this strategy of excellence, the University Board will continue to rely on the participation of the various groups and continue along the "Kiel Way".

Cluster of Excellence at Kiel University

Stone grave
Logo Roots - Social, Environmental, and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies
Man dig somethin out

ROOTS - Societal, Environmental and Cultural Connectivity in Past Societies

The Cluster aims to explore the roots of social, environmental, and cultural phenomena and processes that substantially marked past human development in a broad interdisciplinary conceptual framework. Archaeological and historical ‘laboratories’ will be investigated under the basic assumption that humans and environments have deeply shaped each other, creating socio-environmental connectivities which still persist today.

A better understanding of interwoven past socio-environmental dynamics will shed light on the ‘roots’ of current challenges and crises under diverse economic, ecological, and social conditions.

More about the Cluster of Excellence ROOTS

Logo PMI - Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation

Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation (PMI)

The members of the Cluster of Excellence want to establish precision medicine in chronic inflammation, which takes the individuality of a person and his/her environment into account. Clinical studies and translation are at the core of this work - fundamental research results should be transferred as quickly as possible from bench to bedside.

In the Cluster of Excellence PMI, scientists from various medical disciplines and fundamental research are working together on an interdisciplinary basis to significantly improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these diseases. Their vision is to achieve complete control over the diseases – at every stage and as early as possible.

More about the Cluster of Excellence PMI

Partner of excellent research

Alliance for Excellent Research.SH

Kiel University is a founding member of the Alliance for Excellent Research.SH. The new association was formed in May 2020  to strengthen Schleswig-Holstein as a science hub and to increase its visibility nationally and internationally. The Alliance comprises 14 universities, non-university research institutions and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein.

More about the Alliance for Excellent Research.SH


Katja Barth
Head of the Research department

Inga Brandes
Head of the Strategy and Planning department