From the academic ivory tower to the Studium Generale: Function, task and status of universities and university lecturers in public space

Martin Göllnitz's picture
Call for Papers
November 8, 2018 to November 9, 2018
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Intellectual History, Political History / Studies, Research and Methodology

Questions regarding the purpose and functions of universities and their staff have to fulfil is decided not only at the places of scientific practice or at ministerial levels, but also in public. Not only in the 20th century, but rather from their very origins have universities been shaped to varying degrees by their relationship with the public. As the public has always been involved in defining and delimiting what should and shouldn’t be regarded as science, thereby providing or withholding social recognition for science, the two areas have developed in mutual dependence. Though what is today known as the public sphere in democratic societies only emerged in the bourgeois era, the production of knowledge has always been shaped by its respective social context in which its practice was embedded. Examining the relationship between the university or science on the one hand and the public on the other hand therefore also allows us to gain insight into the society of the respective epoch. For this reason, the functions and tasks of universities are also reflected in areas such as religion, politics and economy.


The workshop offers the opportunity to examine the correlation between university and public from the Humboldt educational reforms to contemporary modernity. The aim is to reflect on the manifold connections between (teaching, learning or managing) actors in the academic field and those in the public field in Europe. A central question for this conference is the autonomy of the academic field, its development and its possible restriction towards the public, in a period characterized by the expansion of university institutions. This expansion is reflected, among other things, in the founding of new disciplines linked to the professionalisation and specialisation of the scientific and intellectual professions.


For these reasons, the planned workshop will serve to exchange current research approaches and perspectives of university history. The event is supposed to act as a platform on which current doctoral and postdoctoral projects in this field can be presented and put up for discussion. Geographically, the focus is on the universities in the German-speaking area; comparative studies that include case studies from other regions are also welcome.


The Call for Papers is aimed at young academics (doctoral and postdoctoral students) from the fields of history and related disciplines who wish to present the content and methodology of their current projects in approx. 20-minute lectures followed by a discussion (20 minutes). Interested parties are requested to send a short academic curriculum vitae with contact details and a lecture abstract of no more than one page by e-mail to Dr. Martin Göllnitz ( by May 31, 2018.


Thanks to the financial support of the Research Association for University History of the JGU Mainz, a travel and accommodation allowance can be offered for participants with an accepted presentation.

Contact Info: 

Dr. Martin Göllnitz

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Arbeitsbereich Zeitgeschichte

Jakob-Welder-Weg 18

55128 Mainz

Phone: +49 (0) 6131-39-29372

Contact Email: