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In the heart of the city

The Seeburg on the Kiellinie promenade should become an event centre for encounters with science. The close exchange between university and society is a key part of the CAU's application in the competition for the title of "University of Excellence".


© Konermann Siegmund Architekten BdA Stadtplaner

This is how the Seeburg could look like in the future as a gateway to science for citizens of Kiel.

There is hardly a better place in Kiel to bring together science and citizens: directly on the fjord, in close proximity to numerous museums, a Sunday walk or a trip ashore from one of the nearby cruise ships can easily be combined with a visit to the Seeburg. This is the vision of those involved in the planning from science, public relations and urban development. 

"With the Seeburg, we want to go where the people are, right in the heart of Kiel. It should be a gateway which arouses curiosity in science," said Ilka Parchmanm, CAU Vice President for Science Communication, describing how the university seeks to open up to society and the city even more than before. Visitors to the last Digitale Woche Kiel (Digital Week in Kiel) could already gain an impression of the historic building as a location for Kiel's universities. Inaugurated in 1910, it previously housed, among other things, the first own canteen for students.

Uncertainties are part of normal scientific work. But they can become a breeding ground for fake news – false information which supposedly offers simple solutions. This is what we see in current social developments.

Karin Schwarz, Vice President

The financial resources which the CAU could obtain with the status of "University of Excellence" should enable a mix of creative events, exhibitions and hands-on activities for different target groups - from mystery trails for families, to digital augmented reality worlds for school groups, right through to new formats such as "Science Dinners" for the general public. In cooperation with the CAU's nearby museums, the Kunsthalle Kiel (Museum of Fine Arts), the Zoological Museum, the Museum of Medical & Pharmaceutical History, as well as the old Botanic Garden, joint topics could be presented from different perspectives.

"We already have formats that are very well accepted, such as the Night of the Profs, "kieler uni live" during Kieler Woche, or the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt (Kiel Research Workshop) for school classes," said Parchmann. The approach behind the Seeburg and the Excellence Initiative application goes a step further: visitors should be able to get involved in science themselves. "We understand that knowledge transfer occurs in both directions. We also want to know what is important to the citizens," emphasised Professor Karin Schwarz, CAU Vice President of Research and Technology Transfer.

In this way, research questions could be developed jointly by science and society - discussions on topics such as animal welfare, health or sustainable fisheries are current examples of this. The "Think Tank" - which is the title of a project planned for funding through the University of Excellence – should, for instance, enable young scientists from various disciplines to tackle socially relevant issues together with external stakeholders. Science, business and politics are already working together on current projects such as CAPTin Kiel (Clean Autonom Public Transport) to develop models for autonomous transport on water and land. The Seeburg is one of the places where cooperation partners such as these have already come together in dialogue. 

"We want to be a university in society, in which knowledge does not originate in isolation," emphasised Schwarz, highlighting a central aspect of Kiel's University of Excellence application. Science and its facts must become involved in public discussions. At the same time, citizens should know how research works. From the outside, scientific processes are often not comprehensible. Opposing views, or information which changes continuously due to new findings, often lead to scepticism towards science. "These uncertainties are part of normal scientific work. But they can become a breeding ground for fake news – false information which supposedly offers simple solutions. This is what we see in current social developments," warned Schwarz.

With the Seeburg location, Kiel University wants to offer a public campus in the city. In addition to encounters with scientific "brains", it should also provide insights into how they generate knowledge in laboratories, libraries or on research trips. Experts from the fields of science, art and education (among others) should jointly develop new formats for this at the annual "Science Outreach Campus", and thereby also learn from each other. 

"In the Seeburg, the 'interfaces' after which our application is named should be put into practice, with encounters between people with different areas of expertise, between the university and the city, as well as between science and society," summarised Parchmann.

Author: Julia Siekmann