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Third Mission

Social engagement

At the time of its foundation in 1388, the University of Cologne was the first university in the then Empire to be founded by the citizens of a city. This remained a fundamental part of its identity when it was re-founded in 1919 as a “municipal university”. Its history as a civic university gives depth to its responsibility to address pressing social issues in research and teaching. Exchange with the non-academic world has been a cornerstone of our identity throughout the ages.

Individual members of the University are engaged in different types of social commitment: Students are involved in the Service Learning Program of the ProfessionalCenter and in numerous student initiatives, scientists in public relations work and Citizen Science projects, or in advising the media and politics as experts.

As a whole, the University is also an important voice in the public realm. Together with other research institutions in Cologne, it is involved in the Kölner Wissenschaftsrunde to foster exchange between urban society and science. At numerous public events, people with diverse backgrounds can participate in scientific and social discussions.

Graduates, former students and former employees are part of the University’s active alumni network. And the University is committed to educational justice. Talent scouts visit schools in Cologne and its vicinity to offer mentoring to students with an excellent academic record but little familiarity with the world of the university. The association Erste Generation Promotion e.V.  offers assistance and networking to graduates who are the first in their families to earn a doctoral degree. And the University of Cologne’s social engagement is not limited to the region. In various projects, it supports educational and research institutions in the Global South in building sustainable structures and processes through capacity building.

The Cologne University Foundation is an active and sustainable contribution to promoting the future viability of the University of Cologne. The close cooperation between the two institutions is laid down in the cooperation agreement (Ger.).