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Excellence Initiative

The Excellence Initiative (known as the Excellence Strategy since 2017/18) is a national programme operated by the federal and state governments and extensively funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Council of Science and Humanities (WR) that aims to promote and recognize excellence in research.

The University of Cologne is one of Germany’s most renowned research universities and enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide. This is reflected in the funding granted by the DFG and the WR through the Excellence Initiative. The University of Cologne has been one of the eleven German Excellence Universities since 2012.

Video: Institutional Strategy

Institutional Strategy of the University of Cologne

Researchers from the WiSo Faculty are currently participating in the following projects as part of the University of Cologne’s Institutional Strategy. The University of Cologne's Institutional Strategy will define and shape our long-term development, allowing us to expand our position as a leading institution of excellence in research and education.

Prof. Dr. Axel Freimuth, Rector of the University of Cologne

Researchers of the WiSo Faculty are involved in the following projects as part of the University of Cologne's Institutional Strategy.

Centre of Excellence C-SEB

The Excellence Centre for Social and Economic Behaviour (C-SEB) was founded in early 2015 after the University of Cologne successfully applied for the Excellence Initiative. C-SEB is active in the key profile area of "Behavioral Economic Engineering and Social Cognition" which brings together researchers from economics, business economics, psychology and related fields to explore social and economic behaviour.

Cluster of Excellence ECONtribute: Markets and Public Policy

Markets & Public Policy, the new Cluster of Excellence in Economics of the Universities of Cologne and Bonn, conducts research into markets with a special focus on the tension between business, politics and society (public policy). The academic objectives of this Cluster are to gain a better understanding of markets and develop a new paradigm for market failure analysis that goes beyond traditional approaches by taking into account current political, social and technological challenges. 

Key Profile Area: Behavioral Economic Engineering and Social Cognition

Social and economic behavior influences the success of societies, politics, markets, organizations, and individuals. An understanding of the factors that influence human behavior and how it can be “guided” is thus essential for tackling the great challenges we face in today’s world. In recent years, laboratory experiments as well as new theories in psychology and economics have made significant progress towards understanding the basic principles of human behavior.

One central task of the KPA is to bring together the various research approaches and, based on this synthesis, to try to understand how insights from behavioral research can be applied in practice to resolve pressing social and economic issues.

Complementary research areas in this KPA are socio-psychological behavioral research and market design research. The Center for Social and Economic Behavior (C-SEB) is part of the KPA as its Center of Excellence (CoE).

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Axel Ockenfels, Department of Governance and Public Policy

Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Hofmann, Social Cognition Center Cologne

Coordinator: Dr. Dominic Akyel, Managing Director of C-SEB

Behavioral Economic Engineering and Social Cognition

Competence Area: Social and Economic Behavior

Research in the broadly defined Competence Area Social and Economic Behavior benefits from a wide range of cooperation schemes and cross-Faculty initiatives. Examples are collaborations with cultural anthropology, macroeconomics, law, marketing, media research, neurosciences, psychology, and sociology, as well as with regional research partners such as the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, and Forschungszentrum Jülich.

In addition, research in this Competence Area is embedded within a worldwide network of close cooperation with renowned academic institutions, among them the Naveen Jindal School of Management, the University of Texas at Dallas, and Columbia Business School (Columbia University).

More information available here.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Felix Bierbrauer, Center for Macroeconomic Research
Coordinator: Dr. Raphael Flore, Center for Macroeconomic Research

Social and Economic Behavior

Competence Area: Aging and Demographic Change

Aging and demographic change raise not only medical and scientific issues, they also pose fundamental challenges in ethics, law, economics, the humanities, and the social sciences. These disciplines must come together to analyze current developments and search for a solution to the challenges they pose.

In the Competence Area, researchers from different fields conduct projects and activities on aging and demographic change. This allows  to complement the research activities of the Key Profile Area on Aging-associated Diseases. Today the CA has become an internationally visible interdisciplinary research center.

Founded at the University of Cologne in November 2013, the cross-Faculty Cologne Center for Ethics, Rights, Economics, and Social Sciences of Health (ceres) provides the institutional framework for this cooperation. Five UoC Faculties support ceres, which is dedicated to research, teaching, promoting early-stage researchers, and public outreach on pressing health issues.


Speaker: Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen, ceres

Moderator: Anna Janhsen, ceres

Aging and Demographic Change

Competence Area: Social Inequalities and Intercultural Education

Social Inequalities and Intercultural Education (SINTER), encompasses research on inequality, migration, and intercultural education.

Since social and educational inequalities often go hand in hand, interdisciplinary approaches to education and the social sciences are increasingly gaining in significance. At SINTER, national as well as comparative and international research is devoted to “spaces” of intercultural education, including formal and informal education, higher education, and adult education. The aim of this research is to uncover the mechanisms by means of which differences “become” inequalities in the context of educational institutions.

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Argyro Panagiotopoulou, Institute of Comparative Education and Social Sciences
Coordinator: Jenna Strzykala M.A., Institute of Comparative Education and Social Sciences

 Social Inequalities and Intercultural Education