Free University of Berlin

The Free University of Berlin (FU Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin) is the second largest of the four universities in Berlin. Research at the university is focused on humanities and social sciences and on health and natural sciences. In October 2007, it was awarded "elite university" status by the German Science Foundation for the quality of its research through the Initiative for Excellence of the German government, which will translate into additional funding. The Times Higher Education Supplement world rankings in Arts and Humanities of 2008 place the FU Berlin 24th in the world, 3rd in Europe and first in Germany.


Most of the university's facilities are located in the Dahlem district of the southwest Berlin borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf. The first independent structure to be completed on campus was the Henry Ford Building, funded by the American Ford Foundation. To that point, the university was housed in several older structures around the neighborhood, including the Otto Hahn Building, which houses the biochemistry department to this day.

The largest single complex of university buildings is the Rost- und Silberlaube, which translates roughly to the "Rust and Silver Alcoves". This complex consists of a series of interlinked structures corresponding to either a deep bronze (hence, "rust") or shiny white ("silver") hue, surrounding a variety of leafy courtyards. It has recently been complemented by a new centerpiece, the brain-shaped Philological Library, designed by British architect Lord Norman Foster.


It was founded in 1948 by students and staff who were relegated because of their political views from Humboldt University of Berlin, formerly the traditional Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität of Berlin, and at that time controlled by the authorities in the Soviet sector. In 1968, it was the center of the left-wing German student movement in parallel to that in Paris, London, and Berkeley. Activists of that time included the SDS and Rudi Dutschke. By the 1980s, it had become the largest German university with 66,000 students. With the democratic restructuring of the Humboldt University after the German reunification, the Freie Universität Berlin was downsized to about 38,000 students in the 1990s.



The university has 12 departments, three interdisciplinary central institutes and other central service institutions:

  1. Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy
  2. Business and Economics
  3. Earth Sciences
  4. History and Cultural Studies
  5. Law
  6. Mathematics and Computer Science
  7. Medicine (Charité - University Medicine Berlin)
  8. Pedagogy and Psychology
  9. Philosophy and Humanities
  10. Physics
  11. Political and Social Science
  12. Veterinary Medicine

Interdisciplinary Central Institutes

  1. John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies
  2. Institute for Eastern European Studies
  3. Institute for Latin American Studies

Central Service Institutions

  1. Botanical Garden Berlin and Botanical Museum Berlin
  2. Center for Academic Advising, Career and Counseling Services
  3. Center for Continuing Studies
  4. Center for Recreational Sports
  5. Center for the Promotion of Woman's and Gender Studies
  6. Computer Center
  7. Language Center
  8. University Library

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize Winners

The DFG awards every year since 1985 outstanding german scientists with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. This highest German research prize consists of a research grant of 2.5 million euro, to be used within seven years. So far there are 13 prize winners at the Free University Berlin:

Prominent figures

Current faculty members include controversial historian Ernst Nolte. Prominent former scholars of the university include the philosopher Jacob Taubes, the philologist Peter Szondi, the Afro-German activist and educationalist May Ayim, the German Supreme Court judge Jutta Limbach, former German president Roman Herzog and the 2004 German presidential candidate Gesine Schwan. The robot soccer players of the university's Computer Science department became vice world champions in 1999, 2000 and 2003 and world champions in 2004 and 2005 mostly under the guidance of the Mexican artificial intelligence expert Raúl Rojas.

External links

See also

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