Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg
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Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg
Latin: Ruperto Carola Heidelbergensis
|Rector||Prof. Dr. iur. Dr. h.c. Peter Hommelhoff|
|Affiliations||Coimbra Group, LERU, EUA|
|Data as of 2004|
The Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg (German Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg; also known as simply University of Heidelberg) was established in the town of Heidelberg in the Rhineland in 1386. Its Latin name is Ruperto Carola Heidelbergensis.
It was founded at the behest of Rupert I, Count Palatine of the Rhine, in order to provide faculties for the study of philosophy, theology, jurisprudence, and medicine. The Great Schism in 1378, which split European Christendom into two hostile groups, was initiated by the election of two popes after the death of Pope Gregory XI in the same year. One successor was in Avignon (elected by the French) and the other in Rome (elected by the Italian cardinals). The German secular and spiritual leaders voiced their support for the successor in Rome, which had far reaching consequences for the German students and teachers in Paris: they lost their stipends and had to leave. Palatine Elector Ruprecht I recognized the opportunity and initiated talks with the Curia, which ultimately lead to the creation of the Papal Bull of Foundation which can be considered the establishment of the University of Heidelberg. On October 18, 1386 a ceremonial fair commemorated the opening of the doors of the university. As a motto for the seal, Marsilius von Inghen, the first rector of the university chose "Semper apertus" - the book of learning is always open. At this point in time the city of Heidelberg could not have had more than 3500 inhabitants and in the first year of existence the university had almost 600 enrolled. On October 19, 1386 the first lecture was held. Thus, the University of Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany (the first university in German-speaking world was established in Vienna in 1365).
During the second half of the 16th century the University underwent a flowering time and was converted into a calvinistic institution in the reign of Elector Louis VI. It attracted scholars from all over the continent and developed to a cultural and academic centre of Europe. However, with the beginning of the Thirty Years' War in 1618, the intellectual and fiscal wealth of the university declined. In 1622 the then world-famous Bibliotheca Palatina, the library of the university, was stolen from the Heiliggeistkirche (the University Cathedral) and brought to Rome.
It was not until 1803 that this decline stopped. In this year, the University was reestablished as a state-owned institution by Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden and since then bears his name together with the one of Ruprecht I. The most influential student at that time was Karl Drais, inventor of the two-wheeler principle that started mechanized and later motorized personal transport. During the late 19th century, the Ruperto Carola housed a very liberal and open-minded spirit which was deliberately fostered by Max Weber, Ernst Troeltsch and a circle colleagues around them. In the Weimar Republic, the University was widely recognized as a centre of democratic thinking, coined by professors like Karl Jaspers, Gustav Radbruch, Martin Dibelius and Alfred Weber. Unfortunately, there were also dark forces working within the university: Nazi physicist Philipp Lenard was head of the physical institute during that time. Following the assassination of Walther Rathenau he refused to half mast the national flag on the institute, thereby provoking its storming by communist students.
With the advent of the Third Reich the University, just like all other German universities, supported the Nazis and lost many of its dissident professors (among them Emil Gumbel) and went into decline. But since Heidelberg was for the most part spared from destruction during the war, the reconstruction of the University was realised rather quickly. With the foundation of the Collegium Academicum, Heidelberg became the home of Germany's first and, until today, only self-governed student hall. Newly laid statutes obliged the University to "the living spirit of truth, justice and humanity".
During the sixties and seventies, the University grew dramatically in size. On the outskirts of the city, in the Neuenheimer Feld Area, a large campus for medicine and natural sciences was constructed. Today, most buildings of the arts and humanities faculties are located in the old part of the town while the largest parts of the natural sciences and medicine faculties buildings, including three large university hospitals, are situated in the Neuenheimer Feld.
 Left-wing student protests
During the 1960s and 70s, the university developed slowly but ultimately to one of the core cells for the political rumors among students (see student protests).
In 1975, a massive police force arrested the entire student parliament "AStA". Shortly thereafter, the "Collegium Academicum", a progressive college in immediate vicinity to the universities main grounds was stormed by over 700 police officers and closed once and for all.
During the first and second gulf wars, the headquarters of the United States Army Forces in Europe, situated in the southern part of Heidelberg, was the destination of a small number of (peaceful) demonstrations by students, citizens and some raging grannies.
Today, about 25,000 students are enrolled for studies at the Ruperto Carola. More than 15,000 academics and over 400 professors make it one of Germany's larger universities. After a structural reformation, the University, as of 2003 consists of twelve faculties:
- Faculty of theology
- Faculty of law
- Faculty of medicine
- Faculty of medicine in Mannheim
- Faculty of philosophy
- Faculty of modern languages
- Faculty of economic and social sciences
- Faculty of behavioural sciences and empirical cultural sciences
- Faculty of mathematics and computer science
- Faculty of chemistry and earth sciences
- Faculty of physics and astronomy
- Faculty of biosciences
Each faculty offers a range of different degrees which will change drastically in the upcoming years as a consequence of the Bologna process. Apart from the faculties, a number of independent research institutes take part in the educational tasks. A very incomplete list of them might include
- the German cancer research centre (DKFZ - Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum)
- the European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL
- Max-Planck-Institutes for astronomy, nuclear physics, medical research and comparative public law and international law.
- an interdisciplinary centre for scientific calculations (IWR - Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für wissenschaftliches Rechnen)
- an institute for astronomical calculations (ARI - Astronomisches Recheninstitut)
- the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften)
As one can see from the aforementioned lists the Ruperto Carola is strongly dedicated towards fundamental research in humanities, natural sciences and medicine. Although there are some links to commercial sponsors, the University depends mostly on financial support by the state.
 Thinkers associated with the university
- Old Testament's expert scholar Prof.Rev.Dr.Gerhard von Rad
- Claus Westermann, Old Testament scholar in the line of Prof.von Rad
- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
- philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach
- historian Ernst Hartwig Kantorowicz
- existentialist philosopher-psychologist Karl Jaspers
- political theorist Hannah Arendt
- mathematician and pacifist Emil Gumbel
- philosopher of hermeneutics Hans-Georg Gadamer
- critical theorist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas
- philosopher of discourse ethics Karl-Otto Apel
- economists and sociologists Max Weber and Alfred Weber
- Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels
- Michael Clyne, linguist
- Alan Kreider, pacifist and historian
- G.E. Berrios , epistemologist of psychiatry
- medical pioneer Ludolf von Krehl
- chemist Robert Bunsen and physicist Gustav Kirchhoff
- Nazi physicist and Nobel Laureate Philipp Lenard
- 1954 physics Nobel Laureate Walther Bothe
- co-inventor of the nuclear shell model Otto Haxel
- 1991 Nobel Laureate Bert Sakmann.
- 2001 Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Ketterle.
- 2005 Nobel Laureate Theodor W. Hänsch
- chemist Fritz Haber, 1918 Nobel Laureate
- chemists Adolf Posselt & Reimann, who discovered in 1828 that nicotine is the main pharmacologically active component of tobacco
- physicist J. Hans D. Jensen, 1963 Nobel Laureate
- psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers
- cell physiologist Bert Sakmann, 1991 Nobel Laureate
- physiologist and medical doctor Otto Heinrich Warburg, 1931 Nobel Laureate
- physician and biochemist Otto Fritz Meyerhof 1922, Nobel Laureate
- chemist Georg Wittig, 1979 Nobel Laureate
- medical doctor Albrecht Kossel, 1910]] Nobel Laureate
- biochemist Richard Kuhn, 1938 Nobel Laureate
- mathematician Leo Konigsberger
- Joseph von Eichendorff
- Jean Paul
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe only visited the city twice and never was a student at the University.
- Jose Rizal
See also: Mediaeval university
 External links
- University of Heidelberg
- Photo Gallery with Images of the University of Heidelberg
- Homepage of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies Heidelberg Center for American Studies
- Coimbra Group (a network of leading European universities)
- LERU Group
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