Competence Areas (CA)
Each Key Profile Area is embedded into a thematically broader, interdisciplinary Competence Area (CA). These Competence Areas facilitate cross-Faculty research in selected areas and contribute to integrating the KPAs into the University as a whole.
Competence Area I: 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
Competence Area II: Social and Economic Behavior
Social and economic behavior affects the success of societies, politics, markets, organizations, and individuals. Understanding its determinants and gaining insights into how it can be ‘managed’ is thus of crucial importance for addressing major challenges of society and humanity. Research in the “CA II - Social and Economic Behavior” benefits from broad interdisciplinary and strong inter-faculty collaborations within the UoC, e.g. macroeconomics and public finance, political science, law, media research, psychology, and sociology, as well as with regional partner research institutions such as the MPI for Research on Collective Goods and the MPI for the Study of Societies.
The collaboration in CA II has led to a close collaboration between economists, political scientists and psychologists on the design of Markets and Public Policies. This development was a prerequisite for the successful application for the Cluster of Excellence on “Markets and Public Policy” called “ECONtribute”, which is a joint endeavor of researchers from the Universities of Bonn and Cologne.
More information available here.
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Clemens Kroneberg, Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS)
Coordinator: Dr. Jennifer Mayer, Department of Economics
Competence Area III: Quantitative Modeling of Complex Systems
Simulations and modeling of complex systems are of increasing importance in many fields of research. This development is driven by the growing availability of massive data sets and by the development of novel tools to describe complex processes and data.
Research activities in this competence area involve more than ten structured research programs and cover a wide range of topics including climate research, star formation in turbulent interstellar clouds, simulation of financial markets, computational archeology, or the development of new mathematical solvers.
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Joachim Saur, Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology
Coordinator: Dr. Christian Fischer, Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology
Competence Area IV: Cultures and Societies in Transition
To what extent are current processes in the Global South challenging and changing the ways in which we understand social and cultural transitions more generally? CA IV responds to this question in a two-fold manner: It encourages University of Cologne research on societies and cultures in transition to comprehensively and comparatively include the Global South. At the same time, it seeks to ensure that Global South research effectively communicates its theories and results to a wider audience within the wider academic landscape of the University of Cologne and the public at large.
CA IV therefore supports research conducted on a wide spectrum of domains that feature current processes of transformation, inter alia research on migration, poverty, inequality and marginalization, violence and conflict resolution, religious authority, activism and literature, new methods and theories from the south. With regard to these themes, CA IV also supports work that is carried out in conjunction with the Global South Studies Center (GSSC). It seeks to enable researchers to analyze these topics in a greater time depth, on the basis of a wider comparative framework and with the aim of a broader dissemination of research results.
At the core of CA IV, activities are measures help to place the research foci of the GSSC in a wider context. CA IV in particular supports initiatives that seek to develop and sustain graduate (including post-doctoral) training. The goal is to take research on socio-cultural transitions to the next level by pooling expertise on the “transitory” aspect and the temporal dimension of change. Close collaboration is sought with two current collaborative research centers which both go beyond Europe and that both have a strong temporal dimension, namely transformations in the past of early human history (SFB 806 “Our Way to Europe”) and socio-ecological transformations extending into the future (TRR 228 “Future Rural Africa”). The aim is to create new venues for communication and exchange between the researchers and disciplines involved.
Enhancing the understanding of socio-cultural change continues to be the main objectives of CA IV. In this research, the focus is on the human agents themselves, their localization in particular and diverse settings and a better understanding of their practices that are conditioned by their positions in the transitory process of social change itself.
Competence Area V: Food Security
In the face of a growing world population, climate change, limited global resources, and water shortage, one of the central challenges of our time is to achieve and sustain food security. Although a significant factor in achieving food security is sufficient crop yield, many other factors beyond plant biology are also important. The Competence Area thus shows the need for biological science to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue with economics, social science, law, medicine, and the humanities to resolve the pressing challenges in ensuring food security. The aim of the Competence Area is to foster such interdisciplinary dialogue. We are building a strong inter-Faculty network at the University of Cologne and Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, which also includes other universities, industry, politics, and non-governmental organizations at the international level.
CEPLAS, the Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences, serves as a central hub for the Competence Area. Apart from organizing interdisciplinary workshops, international symposia and public lecture series, and promoting interdisciplinary research, an important aim of the Competence Area is to increase awareness for the multifaceted challenges of food security. We want to encourage early-stage researchers and students – but also pupils – to become familiar with the topic and thus contribute to actively shaping our future.