50 Years University of Bremen

© Torsten Bolik / Universität Bremen (University of Bremen August 1974)

This year, the University of Bremen is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In an interview with Bremen’s regional newspaper, Weser-Kurier, University of Bremen’s principal Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter discusses how the Uni wants to celebrate its 50 years of existence.

“For us, 50 years of university means reflecting on what has happened here during this time, why the university exists at all, what it has done and continues to do for the city and society. What would be missing if the University of Bremen did not exist? Where do we want to go from here? What should the European university look like that we are building with seven other partners under the name “Young Universities for the Future of Europe”? We want to discuss these and similar questions this year, together with the citizens of this city and this state.”, Scholz-Reiter explains.

According to him, without Uni Bremen there would be fewer findings in a whole range of scientific fields that are based in Bremen and that provide important results and approaches for global research and development. If the university did not exist, Bremen as a location would look different – not only because of the employees of the university, but also because of the people who are educated here. The university has not only regional economic effects, but also regional structural effects.

“We want to use our anniversary as an opportunity to make citizens aware of the value of the university. But the anniversary also offers us the opportunity to celebrate ourselves a little, to strengthen our own identity and sense of belonging, and to look with pride at what we have achieved.”

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration this year, the University of Bremen is offering a series of events to experience the many facets of the university as a European research university and an inspiring place for education and teaching. Under the motto “We Bring the City to Our Campus and Turn the City into a Campus,” participants can visit events and exhibitions at a wide variety of locations, take part in seminars, and thus discover how closely the university is connected to Bremen’s everyday life.

All event formats are to take place analogously – as far as the situation in the pandemic allows – and will be adapted in time to the then valid Corona regulations.

The following events are planned as of now:

50 “Why? That’s why.”- venues: starting in spring 2021
Exhibition in the Lower Town Hall: October 2021

Location: Campus of the University of Bremen
Dates: June 7 – 13, 2021

Location: City of Bremen
Dates: October 14 – 31, 2021

Further information can be found here:



Nature Index: Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Bremen at the Top

© Michael Ihle/ Universität Bremen

In the current Nature Index ranking, the University of Bremen is among the top 5 German research institutes for earth and environmental sciences. The index from the scientific journal Nature is based on article publications in renowned journals.

Once more, the University of Bremen has shown its research expertise with a great position in one of the most important scientific rankings. There are only two universities among the top five national research institutes – the University of Bayreuth and the University of Bremen.

The ranking by the British science journal Nature is based on 2019 and lists which nature and life science research institutes have the most publications. The University of Bremen has again shown the high quality of its scientific publications in the field of earth and environmental sciences. The Nature Index 2020 lists universities, research institutes, and non-academic institutes according to their publications in 82 of the leading scientific journals in the year 2019.

“A Great Success for our Climate University”

Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter, president of the University of Bremen, is pleased about this great placement: “It is a great success for our climate-conscious university and a further confirmation of the outstanding work that is being doing in earth and environmental sciences here. The fantastic positioning shows that our research institute is recognized both nationally and internationally. The University of Bremen is a member of the renowned circle of global climate universities. The Nature Index once more shows our position as a climate-conscious institute.”

Further information can be found here:



Press release by Christina Selzer, Universität Bremen

Excellent Teaching at University of Bremen under COVID-19 Circumstances

© Universität Bremen

Teaching is challenging in times of a pandemic. At the university, this is recognized by the Berninghausen Prize. Therefore, this year, there is not only the traditional student prize. Two teaching staff also receive an award in the category “excellent teaching under COVID-19 circumstances”.

The longtime university music director Dr. Susanne Gläß and the political scholar Sebastian Möller are each awarded a prize in the category “excellent teaching under COVID-19 circumstances”. The traditional student prize is awarded to the didactics of mathematics professor Maike Vollstedt. The three awards are endowed with 2,000 euros each. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the traditional award ceremony will be held as a public online event. Anyone interested in participating is most welcome. A total of 135 proposals were submitted. A selection committee, consisting of teaching staff, other university employees, and students, reviewed the proposals and nominated the award winners who were involved in the following projects and topics:

“Ravel’s Boléro”: An Orchestra Goes Online

What do you do with the already planned orchestra project in times of corona? This was the challenge faced by Susanne Gläß in her teaching project last summer semester. In the end, she managed to establish the project “Ravel’s Boléro” and thus create an alternative for live orchestra playing. “It is possible to hold a lecture online”, she says. “But playing digitally in an orchestra in real time is technically impossible so far.” Nonetheless, the longtime university music director came up with an idea for a digital alternative that could almost make up for the missing coordinated listening usually needed when playing live in an orchestra: She developed an alternative method in which the orchestral parts were recorded individually one after the other and then assembled on the computer immediately after each individual recording. The recordings were made by the orchestra members individually at home. This was accompanied by weekly video conferences where musical composition and technical recording problems were discussed. Gläß received technical support from a professional team: Alumnus Gerd Anders, bugler of the orchestra and sound technician by profession, Simon Knobbe, trumpet player of the orchestra and freshly graduated in Master of Electrical Engineering, and for video editing, Jan-Hendrik von Stemm, administrative staff of the university music department. The result was presented in the St. Stephani culture church in the period from June 27 until July 18, 2020 at 21 different occasions. The individually recorded tracks were played back from 34 loudspeakers. In compliance with the hygienic regulations, the audience could walk between these speakers and distinguish the individual instruments that the human ear would not be able to filter out during normal orchestral performances. The 50 orchestra members benefited in many ways from the project: They were able to get acquainted with new forms of musical production, could improve their own performance by repeating their recording up to ten times, maintain intensive contact with the rest of the group, and enjoy the creative experience. Additionally, a video sound collage was produced and uploaded on YouTube. The jury was thoroughly impressed by this project, which would not have taken place without COVID-19.

Port Blog and Learning Videos instead of Excursions

“Key to the World: Bremen’s Ports in the Global, Political Economy”: This is the seminar title of an interdisciplinary exploration tour through the fascinating world of ports, which the political scholar Sebastian Möller had to convert to a digital port seminar in the summer semester due to the corona pandemic. “Unfortunately, the pandemic suddenly put an end to my plans for excursions and field trips to the ports”, he remembers. “In order to still encourage interest in empirical questions, I have used learning videos, recorded interviews with port stakeholders, and the port blog.” An introductory post by him was published on the blog before each course session. Students then created their own short contributions or podcasts on this topic, drawing on various empirical data and, in some cases, conducting their own interviews. In this way, students were able to engage in a research-based learning process even in times of the pandemic and did not just sit in Zoom meetings all the time. To support this, the port blog provided an extensive list of research data, links, and literature, and animated the students to participate by means of photo quizzes and port news. “My students have created some very intriguing blog posts and podcasts, and I have already learned a great deal from my students. I would have much preferred a face-to-face port seminar though”, says Möller. According to the jury, the students especially praised Sebastian Möller’s flexible and very successful re-organization and planning of the seminar under COVID-19 conditions. Particular emphasis is placed on the port blog, which is a lasting testimony to the students’ learning success and has also encouraged other interested parties to visit and explore. Some of the students’ contributions will soon be published as working papers. Sebastian Möller’s commitment went far beyond of what is required of a tutor.

Student Prize for “Thinking and Acting Mathematically”

“Thinking and Acting Mathematically” is the name of the seminar, for which Professor Maike Vollstedt receives the student prize. The module includes didactic aspects of current research areas in mathematics such as the psychology of learning mathematics. In the seminar, Vollstedt and her students looked beyond their own horizons. She established a link to topics in educational psychology. The goal was for her students to continue to be able to experience what constitutes science and which activities researchers pursue. The original concept was developed by a colleague from the computer sciences, Professor Susanne Maaß, and then transferred and adapted to the needs of the field of didactics of mathematics by Maike Vollstedt. The concept includes the exploration of a topic area by the students, as well as the organization and realization of a student conference, at which the students’ own findings were presented. According to the jury, this project strongly encouraged independent, creative, and critical thinking. The students emphasized Maike Vollstedt’s commitment in their statement. She distinguished herself by a high degree of responsiveness, so that intensive consultation and support were possible at all times.

Thanks to Student

“The student prize is very special to me, since being a specialist in didactics, excellent teaching is naturally very close to my heart,” says Vollstedt. “My heartfelt thanks go to the students for this great course: The conference seminar could only happen because of their extremely dedicated commitment, which was by no means something to be taken for granted.”

About the Berninghausen Prize

Every year, the University of Bremen and the “unifreunde” friends of the University of Bremen and Jacobs University award the Berninghausen Prize. The prize, which was established by the family Berninghausen in 1991, honors special achievements in university teaching. Endowed with 6,000 euros, the prize can be awarded in several categories. All members of the university can nominate members of the teaching faculty for the prize, whereby in the category “student prize”, only the students are allowed to do so.

Further Information can be found here:






Press release by Meike Mossig, Universität Bremen

Bremen Students Are Starting into the New Corona Winter Semester: What Do They Have to Expect?

In an interview for Bremen’s regional magazine buten un binnen, University of Bremen’s Vice Principal Academic, Prof. Dr. Thomas Hoffmeister, informed about what Bremen students at the University of Bremen will have to expect from the new winter semester which starts on November 2nd, 2020.

When asked whether there has been a decline in enrollment numbers, Hoffmeister states that there has been indeed a slight decline due to the fact that in Lower Saxony, a whole Abitur cohort wasn’t able to graduate due to the Corona measurements. Nevertheless, the decreased number of students who enrolled in study programs at the University of Bremen is not as big as they would have expected. This might be because gap years like Work-and-Travel-Years aren’t possible at the moment, so that school graduates were more likely to already start with University.

After the full-on online summer semester, Hoffmeister says that this new semester will see a dynamic, hybrid system: Next to the successful online-teaching formats, as long as the infection rates allow, more in-person classroom teaching will be made possible along with more opportunities for students to learn (together) on campus. With the new technical equipment the universities in the state of Bremen now have to deal with, Hoffmeister sees great potential in offering new student jobs for assisting in technological issues so that fruitful teaching can be secured.

Hoffmeister assures that if teaching will have to move back online, presence teaching will not be translated one-to-one into online teaching but will be made more flexible with asynchronous learning styles, for example.

The full interview can be found here:


University Library: 1st Prize in Best Practice Competition

© Michael Ihle/Universität Bremen

The State and University Library Bremen has come first place in the Best-Practice Competition of the German Library Association and Association of German Librarians. The motto was The Self-Explanatory Library – Becoming Information-Competent in Passing by Using Services.

The SuUB’s contribution titled “You are my hero of the day” (“Sie sind meine Heldin des Tages”) – a quote from a thank you email – describes the direct aid given when users cannot open an online publication from the library. All required information is passed onto a SuUB service team with one click. The team then directly deals with the problem, initiates corrections, and sends quick, individual replies with solution suggestions. In this way it is possible to directly communicate with users, further research recommendations can be made, and mistakes in the catalogue can be erased. In April 2020, 406 inquiries were answered.

The positive feedback from users as well as from the vocational associations pleases the service team and all SuUB staff members. “I am amazed by the innovative ideas and the dedication of our team,” says Maria Elisabeth Müller, SuUB director. A further expansion of the function with regards to other services is planned.

Prize Honors Exemplary Concepts

The Best Practice Competition in Information Competency has been held annually since 2014 by the joint Information Competence Commission from the German Library Association (dbv) and Association of German Librarians (“Verein Deutscher Bibliothekarinnen und Bibliothekare” – VDB). Libraries across the country can present their innovative services in said competition.

The competition honors particularly exemplary concepts that are suitable to be used in other libraries. This year, a special focus was placed on the promotion of information competence outside of traditional courses.

Further information can be found here:




Press release by Sarah Batelka, Universität Bremen

The William ’71 and Elke Durden Literary Series at Bremen #4: Bernd Schirmer and Kerstin Hensel

by Janine Ludwig

Like everything this year, the planned fourth “William ‘71 and Elke Durden Literary Series at Bremen” could not take place in presence. But we organized it virtually and in a modified form and extended it to two dates.

For this purpose, we have declared two sessions of the video seminar “Forgotten and Overlooked Wende Literature,” taught by Janine Ludwig and Uwe Spörl at the University of Bremen, as “Open Classes.” In this seminar we discussed Wende novels of the 1990s, which in the 30th year of German Unity once again showed us the upheavals and peculiarities of the years 1989/90 as well as the East German experiences and perceptions of that time. On June 23, 2020, the author Bernd Schirmer, who had been the invited guest for the DDLS, took part in the meeting via zoom, in which his satirical short novel Schlehwein’s Giraffe was discussed. During the eventful and stimulating one and a half hours, Schirmer read passages from his text and answered questions from the students, including about his personal experiences as a writer with the (post-)reunification period.

On July 14, 2020, the author Kerstin Hensel was a guest in the second public session, in which her multi-layered narrative Tanz am Kanal was analyzed. Hensel, who is also Professor of German Verse Language at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin (Hochschule für Schauspielkunst Ernst Busch), provided fascinating insights into her writing and also discussed the question of whether and how literature can “process” history at all, or what Wende literature actually is.

Both seminars were open to guests from all over the world, and representatives of the following institutions were present: Cardiff University, University of Oxford, National University of Ireland, Galway, University of La Réunion, University of Wisconsin – Madison, University of Lille, University of Birmingham, Old Dominion University, Norfolk (VA), International University Alliance.

This was the 4th event of the “William ‘71 and Elke Durden Literary Series at Bremen.” Organized by the “Durden Dickinson in Bremen Program” of Dickinson College, PA, USA, in cooperation with the Institute for Cultural Studies of Germany (ifkud) of the University of Bremen and the network “Literature in Divided Germany” (LIGD, Berlin).

We would like to heartfully thank Bill and Elke Durden and the University of Bremen for their generous support.

Online teaching! Literature about the events of 1989

by Janine Ludwig

“Und es hat ‘Zoom’ gemacht” – is a famous line from a German song called “1000 und eine Nacht” (a thousand and one nights) by Klaus Lage.

Zoom has hit us all in March and quickly became the ubiquitous tool for online teaching. Since mid-April, I was teaching classes online, especially for our wonderful students who had to leave Bremen and suspend their study abroad.

One seminar dealt with literature/novels on the events of 1989/90 and beyond in (East) Germany. In order to make it more attractive and give the students somewhat of a substitute for not being in Bremen, I invited seven German guests to participate in the online meetings:

Introductory sessions:

  • Egon Krenz, Head of State of the GDR in the fall of 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, attended a meeting and answered students’ questions. He described how accidental the fall of the Berlin Wall actually was, what the immediate Russian reaction was that he received, at what point he realized that his government was losing control over the events and why he thinks the socialist Eastern Bloc eventually lost the Cold War.
  • Emeritus Professor Wolfgang Emmerich, University of Bremen, leading West German expert on GDR literature, talked about how and why he re-wrote his standard book on GDR literature after 1990 and how he was criticized for that (as being a political opportunist). He also gave an insight into personal relations between intellectuals and writers in East and West, sadly describing debates with some of his East German friends/writers who were less enthusiastic about the reunification than he was.
  • Prof. Philipp Kneis, Oregon State University, and I reported for the students how we experienced the fall of the wall as teenagers. Our biographies, memories, and perspectives were not entirely the same, which hopefully was interesting for the students to understand. For instance, Prof. Kneis was in the church community (unusual in the GDR) and described the role of the church in the revolution of 1989.

Sessions on Wende novels:

  • For the meetings in which we discussed literary texts, all four authors of the novels we read were so kind to accept the invitation to participate and talk to our students: Jens Sparschuh, Jens Wonneberger, Bernd Schirmer, Kerstin Hensel.
  • We discussed passages in their texts and asked them questions about their ideas behind it, or what they think about our interpretations. They shared intriguing insights into the writing process, disclosed some hidden allusions in the texts, their biographical background and how they as writers experienced the upheavals of 1989 and later on, including difficulties in a completely changed literary sphere.

I am happy to say that remote online teaching is working much better than expected. It is not the “real deal,” but it works. And it was great to see our students regularly at least on screen. Of course, it demanded a quick adaptation to a new system, format, and way of teaching – but where would it be more adequate (and easy) to master such an adjustment than in a seminar about the monumental societal changes that occurred in East Germany in and after 1990…?

Academic Internship

by Corson Ellis ’21

IHMG conference  © J. Ludwig

From March until August of 2019, I helped the International Heiner Müller Society (IHMG) and Dr. Ludwig, the Academic Director for Dickinson in Bremen, with her work on the role of women in the works of Heiner Müller, a famous East German playwright, poet, essayist, and dramaturge. I attended two conferences (on Heiner Müller, organized by the IHMG, and Bertolt Brecht, organized by the International Brecht Society), helped translation, gathered research materials, digitized documents, and had the opportunity to get an article published in the IBS’s online journal “Communications” (ecibs). It was a formative experience, teaching me about time management, self-discipline, and the amount of work that is required in academia (it was a lot more than I had ever thought). Having already held a job in the US, the internship in Germany showed me in greater detail the difference between German and US work environments.

IHMG Conference, March 2019 © J. Ludwig

Above all else, the conferences left a great impression on me. It helped me realize that even in field of the study of a single east German intellectual, there can be a great variety of perspectives and debate. I saw people who were passionately engaged in debate that remained civil and friendly, while constantly looking at Müller’s or Brecht’s works in a new light. It helped me develop my own ability, especially in an academic context, of looking at concepts or artistic works from multiple perspectives and trying to figure out not just what the author intended, but also how a play about the Haitian revolution can provide an insight into modern politics in the USA.

Prof. Dr. Florian Vaßen, IHMG, in Hannover

Theater play in conjunction with IHMG’s Müller conference in Hannover









IBS Conference in Leipzig, June 2019 © Raffaelle Di Tizio

I spent 6 months in Germany, yet the time flew by, and before I knew it my internship was over, my finals completed, my bank account closed, and my rental bike returned. The time that you have to spend abroad is fleeting, and I encourage everyone to take the risks that I did. Try to get an internship, take a class you might not normally take, go on a Flix bus ride for 20 hours. Dickinson makes sure that you have all of the tools to have a once in a lifetime experience while in Germany, and it is up to you to seize that chance.

Nature Ranking: University of Bremen among the best worldwide

© University of Bremen

International top spot for the University of Bremen in natural sciences – Their scientists are among the best from young universities worldwide. The renowned Nature Index ranks them 18th of 175 universities under the age of 50. The Nature Index 2019 Annual Tables highlights the institutions and countries which dominated research in the natural sciences in 2018. The ranking provides important criteria for benchmarking universities and research facilities, and therefore indicates the international research quality.

“I am delighted that the University of Bremen has achieved such a good ranking worldwide and at the same time holds the top position among the young German universities,” says Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter, Rector of the University of Bremen. “This shows how strong our scientists are in research.”

Top-quality research output in Earth and environmental sciences 

In the special field Earth and environmental sciences the University of Bremen takes the 3rd place, leading the group of the 14 young universities from Germany. Professor Michael Schulz, director of MARUM – center for Marine and Environmental sciences of the University of Bremen, is pleased by the top spot: “The research with focus on ocean, polar, and climate sciences is top notch in Europe.”

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