Science and Higher Education

Library at the Catholic University of Eichstätt. © KNA

The Catholic Church has always attached great importance to science. In addition to the theological faculties, Catholic universities and institutions for scholarships and for the promotion of science, particularly Catholic university and student communities as well as student associations manifest a Catholic presence in the field of higher education and science.

Catholic-theological faculties and institutions of higher education

There are 11 state universities with Catholic-theological faculties. Moreover there are 34 Catholic-theological institutes and higher education institutions which are concerned with the training of teachers of religion. Besides the Catholic university of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt there are three diocesan theological faculties run by the church.

Five higher education institutes founded by religious orders cultivate the specific character of their community in teaching and research. All of them are recognized by the Church and the state. When they were founded, these institutions admitted only religious order members whereas today they are open to all students.


The Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU)

 The Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU) which was established in 1972 is the only one of its kind in the German-speaking world. Its unique feature is that it combines science and religion. The Catholic university which is recognized by the Church and the state offers a multitude of study programmes and combinations of study fields. Students are admitted irrespective of their denomination. Currently, the Catholic university of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt has about 120 professors, more than 200 other academic staff and 5,426 students. The university at present has eight faculties, most of them covering the social sciences and the humanities.


Catholic universities of applied sciences

In addition to the two polytechnic courses offered at the Catholic university of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt there are five Catholic universities of applied sciences (Katholische Fachhochschulen). They focus on courses in social work, nursing, therapeutic pedagogy and religious education studies. The universities of applied sciences are committed to research and continuing education. They provide practice-oriented training on a scientific basis.


University and student communities

There are 123 Catholic university and student communities in Germany’s universities and other institutions of higher education. They provide support and assistance to Catholics at universities (lecturers, students, researchers and other staff), they have an ecumenical orientation, and they offer their services also to non-Christian students and university members. The provision of spiritual and personal assistance aims to promote a fruitful dialogue between university culture and the Gospel. The activities of the individual university communities are supported by the Forum Hochschule und Kirche e. V.


Academic associations

There are various Catholic associations and institutions dedicated to the promotion of science. The most important of these is the Görres-Gesellschaft which was founded in 1876. True to its Christian faith-based founding mission, its aim is to promote academic life and to provide opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange. Its 2,758 members (as at 2014) are Catholic university teachers and academics who, in addition to their normal research and teaching activities at the universities, also engage in research and scientific exchange projects of the Görres-Gesellschaft.

The Kommission für Zeitgeschichte (Commission for Contemporary History) is dedicated to the research on the history of the Church and Catholicism in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Commission’s research and publications focus on the relationship between state and Church and on the involvement of German Catholics in society and politics in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Institut für Ostdeutsche Kirchen- und Kulturgeschichte, the Gesellschaft zur Herausgabe des Corpus Catholicorum, the Katholische Sozialwissenschaftliche Zentralstelle and the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism work on specific issues. They organize expert meetings and are involved in general academic research through their publications.

Assistance for German and foreign students and postgraduates

The Church in Germany has always attached particular importance to the promotion of gifted students and postgraduates. Assistance is provided especially by the Bischöfliche Studienförderung Cusanuswerk, the Catholic Academic Exchange Service (Katholische Akademische Ausländerdienst (KAAD)) and the Theological Scholarship Program Albertus Magnus of the Institut für Weltkirche und Mission. In addition to the awarding of scholarships, the focus is on offering spiritual and personal assistance. The aim of summer academies, specialized seminars and spiritual offers is to help scholarship recipients to develop a Christian view and, based on this conviction, later on to assume responsibility in society and the Church.

The Bischöfliche Studienförderung Cusanuswerk every year awards scholarships to approx. 900 gifted German students of all disciplines taking their first degrees as well as to some 200 students preparing for doctorates. The Catholic Academic Exchange Service (KAAD) awards scholarships to more than 450 students from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The Theological Scholarship Program Albertus Magnus awards scholarships above all to priests and religious coming from countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe who want to pursue further theological qualification in Germany.


Academic associations and unions

A large number of students and academics are members of Catholic Corporations (particularly of Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen – CV, Kartellverband katholischer deutscher Studentenvereine – KV, Verband der wissenschaftlichen katholischen Studentenvereine Unitas - UV) and academic unions (e.g. Bund katholischer deutscher Akademikerinnen, Christopherus-Vereinigung, Bonifatius-Einigung, Hochschulkreis der Ackermann-Gemeinde etc.).

All of them offer specific educational programs ranging from theological to professional seminars as well as general social and university activities. The programmes and initiatives of the individual associations are supported and coordinated by the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft der katholischen Studentenverbände (AGV)" and the “Katholische Akademikerarbeit Deutschlands (KAD)“.

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