History of the Department

On  February 17th, 1993, the Department for Political Science at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena was inaugurated in the presence of the Thuringian Minister President Dr. Bernhard Vogel and the Thuringian Minister of Science and Art, Dr. Ulrich Fickel. After the presentation of the foundation charter by the Rector of the University, Professor Ernst Schmutzer, a symposium was held on the topic of “Germany and Europe”, in which prominent national and international representatives of the field presented the new institute to the public.

The opening of the Department was preceded by a preparatory phase in which a large number of professional colleagues, visiting professors and  members of the Structure and Appointment Committee, prepared the ground for the foundation: eg Karl Dietrich Bracher, Hans-Peter Schwarz, Hans-Jürgen Puhle, Frieder Naschold, Wilhelm Hennis, Wolf Rosenbaum, Luigi Ferraris Graf and Ludger Kühnhardt. After the first chair positions were issued in March 1992, lectures were started in the winter semester 1992/93 by Professors Ulrich Hilpert (Comparative Politics), Karl Schmitt (Political System of Germany in European Comparison) and Reimund Seidelmann (International Relations and Foreign Policy) and their employees.

With the establishment of the Department of Political Science, after the decline of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena followed a development that led to the establishment of Political Science as an independent discipline in the great universities of Europe. Nevertheless, Political Thinking, Political Science Research and Teaching had been home at the University of Jena since its foundation. The University owes its first internal architecture to Melanchthon, the preceptor Germaniae, its foundation anchored in Aristotle’s ethics and politics. Last but not least, big names like Schiller, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel are proofs for a continuation regarding the engagement with Political Science issues at any time.

This also applies for the four decades of the GDR era. In contrast to the Marxism / Leninism section, which exists since 1968,, Political Science neither decrees the validity of political values, dominates other disciplines, nor does it seek to take a leading position within the university. Marxism / Leninism, on the other hand, made their own philosophical and political truths mandatory for all students of the university and claimed to be the binding leading science for all disciplines.

Political science returned to the University of Jena as one discipline in a concert of many equal compartments to serve the self-enlightenment of a liberal-democratic society.

At the beginnings the Department of Political Sciences worked under rather basic and modest circumstances: In the winter semester 1992/93, about 30 students were registered in the new degree course. Initially, the Department resided in the 13th floor of the university’s tower.


The development and expansion of the Department progressed rapidly thanks to the support of the University Board,the Ministry of Science such as through the great dedication of the teachers and the administrative staff as well as the library, which still is jointly operated with the Department for Sociology. After four moves (former ZEISS-Hauptwerk Krautgasse, to former ZEISS-Südwerk Otto-Schott-Straße 41, to the new campus Carl-Zeiss-Straße 3, Ernst-Abbe-Platz 8 and now back to Carl-Zeiss-Straße 3), due to the great effort, the Institute was capable to consolidate in personnel matters and proper facilities by the end of the 1990s.

In the summer term 1995, Vacant/free chair positions were staffed: Professor Klaus Dicke was appointed for the chair of Political Theory and chair of Civic Education was occupied by Professor Wolfgang Sander. After the appointment of Professor Seidel and Professor Sander to the University of Giessen, Professor Helmut Hubel and Professor Carl Deichmann succeeded them.

To cover teaching supplies, necessary because of the rapidly increasing numbers of students (summer semester 2002 : 1300 students), the Department was supported by numerous visiting professors (Professor Franz Neumann, Professor Sylvie Lemasson, Grenoble and Dr. hab. Christiano German, Eichstätt). There was also a growing number of lecturers in oder to enhance the relations to political practice and thus, to enlarge the future professional fields of the graduates.

In addition, international guest lecturers enriched the curriculum: The DAAD visiting Professors Erhard Cziomer, Krakow, and Laszlo Kiss, Budapest, taught in the summer terms of 1996 and 1999, in the academic year 1999/2000, Fulbright Visiting Professor Ann Philipps, , Washington, DC., contributed

The Department pays special attention to the education of Social Studies teachers at Thuringian schools. To qualify teachers, who are already working, a new degree was introduced in 1990:three one-year courses were offered, in cooperation with the Thuringian Ministry of Culture and the Thuringian Institute for teacher training. From 1993 to 1996 about 100 Social Studies teachers were prepared for their exams. Since then, the advanced training of already working school teachers has been integrated in the regular curriculum of the institute.

To address the increasing demand for postgraduate qualifications of foreign students, the one-year study program “Master of Politics” was introduced in 1998. At the same time, the possibilities of studying abroad for Jenaer students was vigorously promoted, partly through bilateral agreements (e.g. Institut d’ Études Politiques de Paris, University of Louisiana, Baton Rouge), and partly through the development of ERASMUS and SOCRATES networks.

Institutseröffnung Vogel

From the beginning, the Department had a strong commitment to research. Professor Seidel ran external funded projects on arms control in Western Europe and on a new security architecture in Eastern Europe. Professor Schmitt worked on several projects on electoral, party and elite research. Professor Dicke led projects to Kant’s “Perpetual Peace“, the Theory of Human Rights and the Historical Political Science in Thuringia. Professor Hubel ran researches on the conflict zones in the Middle East and Central Asia and the trilateral relations between Germany, Israel and the United States. Professor Knill enriched political science research in Jena with work on the European integration in the context of globalization as well as to European administrative institutions, and Professor Deichmann devoted himself to Civil Education teaching and research in close cooperation with Thuringian schools and several educational institutions.

Part of the results of these projects were published in the Department’s own series “Jenaer Contributions to Political Science”, so far, six volumes have been published. In the Department’s journal “Forum Politicum Jenense”, guest lectures and conference papers, partly developed from the close cooperation with the Collegium Europaeum Jenense and Hellmut Loening Centre for Political Sciences, were published as well.

Without the rapid expansion of the Department’s library neither ambitious academic teaching nor research projects would have been possible.. In an enormous effort over many years, the library staff has systematized the existing stocks. Extensive book donations (Volkswagen Foundation, Konrad Adenauer, Hanns-Seidel-Thyssen Foundation, Board of Kuratorium Unteilbares Deutschland, WSI Library of the DGB, former students of the Friedrich Schiller University) were made. Thanks to the financial support by the university administration not only current new releases could be acquired but also purchases (including complete libraries of late colleagues) of professional literature published since the 50s could be realized. This also applies to the most important journals of the scientific field, which now are available in complete series.

After only a few years of construction, the Department of Political Science has achieved a level in research, teaching and facilities, equal to the institutions of West German universities. The service policy and the relations between teachers and students are, despite  rising student numbers, still quite personal, also due to the exemplary effort of the mid-level faculty.