60 Years Political Science at Kiel University

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The ceremony of the 60th anniversary of Political Science at Kiel University took place on 8th June in the Council chamber of the Town hall of Kiel. After the welcoming address by Professor Tine Stein and Professor Joachim Krause, the Lord Mayor of Kiel, Torsten Albig, congratulated the Department of Political Science, Kiel University, on its anniversary. Albig pointed to the very low turn-out in local elections, appealing to the Political Sciences to find answers to urgent problems of our times. The first ceremonial address was held by the Chairman of the German Association for Political Science (Deutsche Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft), Professor Hubertus Buchstein, who spoke about the establishment and development of Political Science in Germany that had been characterized by highs and lows.

Impressions from the ceremony on 8th June


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Buchstein drew attention to the fact that Kiel was one of the very first locations in the Federal Republic of Germany to institutionalize the subject of Political Science. Then, Kiel´s former Lord Mayor, Norbert Gansel, spoke about his personal relationship towards the Political Sciences in Kiel and quoted from an exchange of letters between Andreas Gayk and Michael Freund about the latter´s appointment to the Chair for “Science and History of Politics” (“Wissenschaft und Geschichte der Politik”) in 1951.

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“History of Political Science in Kiel” (“Geschichte der Kieler Politikwissenschaft”). Subsequently, after the speeches, with a glass of wine and a snack, there was the possibility to look at the posters of a student research project or to engage in discussions about the exciting and eventful history of the Department of Political Science at Kiel University.

Impressions from the Scientific on 9th June


Christian Patz spoke about Wilhelm Hasbach, a political scientist of the early 20th century. In the light of Hasbach´s rather critical stance towards parliamentary democracy, he raised the provocative question of whether one needs to be a democrat in order to be a political scientist. The comprehensive reception of the title “Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft” by Ferdinand Tönnies, written in the 1920s at the Kiel Institute of World Economy and Maritime Transport, was dealt with by Alexander Wierzock as a precursor to Political Science at Kiel University. In her presentation, Birte Meinschien took a closer look at the appointment of Michael Freund to Kiel and at the establishment of the chair for “Science and History of Politics” (“Wissenschaft und Geschichte der Politik”).

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All of the presentations were commented by Professor Hubertus Buchstein (Greifswald University) and Privatdozent Cord Arendes (Heidelberg University). Contributions by contemporary witnesses complemented the students´ presentations. The second panel dealt with the tension between Political Science and political practice and was attended by the politicians Dr. Hans-Peter Bartels (Member of the Bundestag) and Dr. Axel Bernstein (Member of the Landtag). The Department of Political Science was represented by Professor Joachim Krause and Professor Christian Martin, Professor Tine Stein was responsible for the moderation.

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During this panel discussion it became clear that there is a whole range of challenges to Political Science in theory and practice. In this respect, Bernstein and Bartels called upon the Political Sciences to present definite and relevant research results for the problems in state and society. Both pointed to positive experiences concerning “Think-Tanks” and other institutions in which Science and Politics work together and they called upon students to get involved in political party organizations. Professor Martin added, on a rather critical note, that the practical orientation of Political Science must not happen at the expense of basic research.

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On the contrary, the university should provide a space that allows research that is free of any interests. Professor Krause presented an alternative, more “pragmatic” understanding of Political Science that combines theory and practice, for example, in institutions of policy consultancy. This refreshingly open debate was enriched by numerous contributions of the guests. Professor Stein concluded the symposium announcing that in the future, further events will be held in order to enable a systematic exchange between Political Science and political practice.