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Do you have questions about HHU and its role as a Citizens’ University? You can find all the answers here.

If you have further questions or matters you wish to discuss, please feel free to contact our Public Engagement Unit team at any time.

Frequently asked questions – general

As a “Bürgeruniversität” (Citizens’ University), Heinrich Heine University fosters exchange between science and society. In collaboration with its researchers, HHU offers numerous public events, establishes discussion forums, encourages social commitment and involves citizens and other representatives of civil society in research and teaching. Dialogue with the citizens of Düsseldorf and beyond the boundaries of the city is valued by both sides and encouraged via various measures.

We believe that interest and trust in science can be strengthened by open dialogue and constructive cooperation with all stakeholders in society. In its role as a Citizens’ University, HHU meets its social responsibility, increases the acceptance of research results and scientific innovations, and allows ideas and impulses from society to flow into research.

The University of Düsseldorf has borne the name of Heinrich Heine – poet and son of the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia – since 1988. No other writer could have better represented the concept of the Bürgeruniversität (Citizens’ University) and the values it embodied – tolerance, open-mindedness, equality and freedom – through their work. As a Citizens’ University and in the spirit of Heine, HHU is open to all areas of society, encouraging citizens to enter into dialogue with the university and participate in its activities. Students are offered a broad, humanistic education and the results of their research are utilised to help advance society.

Dialogue between Heinrich Heine University researchers and citizens is at the heart of the Citizens’ University, so there are two target groups:

On the one hand, interested citizens of Düsseldorf and – particularly in the case of digital formats – also beyond. HHU also actively seeks dialogue with people who have not shown an interest in scientific topics to date. The Citizens’ University is open to everyone, irrespective of age, gender, origin, education and income.

On the other hand, the aim is to support HHU members in conducting precisely this dialogue: in their research and classes, and through good communication about their scientific work. To this end, the Citizens’ University provides numerous funding and advisory offers. You can find everything you need to know here.

The first Citizens’ University programme was published in the winter semester 2019/2020 and now appears twice a year at the start of each semester, i.e. on 1 April and 1 October every year. The programme contains a selection of different events from all areas of the university. It is published on our website and can also be downloaded from there (please note that it is largely in German as the majority of events are held in German). Printed programmes are also available at the Haus der Universität (“University House”), various locations on campus and in the city.

To ensure you are aware of new events and any changes, we recommend that you check our online calendar.

Citizens’ University activities can take place anywhere that dialogue on scientific topics can take place between citizens and HHU members, so we are pleased to invite you to the HHU campus, the Haus der Universität (“University House”) on Schadowplatz and other public places in the city. You can find everything you need to know here.

Frequently asked questions – HHU members

Please feel free to contact our Public Engagement Unit team about your suggestion or idea at any time (). Then we can talk about what ways and means are best suited to communicating your topic, what steps need to be considered in the planning, what support options are available and the form in which your project can be included in the Citizens’ University programme.

For press inquiries, please contact the Press and Communications Unit.

Events must facilitate dialogue between science and society to be included in the programme. They may include lectures and panel discussions, science slams, BarCamps, exhibitions or guided tours and in some cases even digital formats.

The events should fulfil the following criteria:

  • The event is offered or organised by HHU researchers
  • The researchers present their own research results and/or a current scientific issue is addressed
  • The topic is easy to understand and relevant to an audience without prior/specialist knowledge
  • The event encourages exchange and debate

The President of HHU, in consultation with the Public Engagement Unit, decides which events are included in the programme.

Within the framework of the Citizens’ University, you can apply for funding in the areas of citizen science, community-oriented teaching and science communication.

We have been supporting teaching formats that foster the social commitment of students and encourage dialogue with society since 2018 through the “community-oriented teaching” funding programme. Central quality improvement funds are requested for the programme on an annual basis and we call for the submission of funding applications once a year, usually in the summer semester. You can find out more about the “community-oriented teaching” funding line here (in German).

HHU provides internal funding totalling 140,000 euros each year for citizen science projects, i.e. HHU research projects that actively involve citizens and representatives of organised civil society. This involvement can range from the joint development of a project proposal, to participation in the implementation of projects and transfer into practice. You can find more information about the funding programme here.

The Citizens’ University “ad hoc funding pool” provides support for science communication formats. The maximum funding amount for individual projects is €1,000. You can find everything you need to know about the ad hoc funding pool here (in German).

The Public Engagement Unit regularly offers a range of science communication training courses. The training usually takes the form of online workshops conducted by recognised trainers or providers such as the National Institute for Science Communication (Nationales Institut für Wissenschaftskommunikation – NaWik).

The Public Engagement Unit provides information on corresponding offers via announcements, this website and at any time on request.

We welcome student involvement in Citizens’ University activities. On the one hand, the “community-oriented teaching” programme supports teaching formats that connect science and society in a special way, while students can also submit applications for the “Citizens’ University ad hoc funding pool” in cooperation with HHU lecturers. Student initiatives can also suggest event formats for inclusion in the Citizens’ University event programme (the criteria are explained above in the “What is included in the Citizens’ University programme?” section). You can find more information here. If you have a concrete inquiry, please feel free to contact our Public Engagement Unit team to discuss your idea.

Yes, the Citizens’ University has a Programme Advisory Board and a Round Table. The Programme Advisory Board meets twice a year to further develop the strategy and support the preparation of the Citizens’ University programme. Members of this Board include the President of HHU, representatives of the Public Engagement Unit, the Press and Communications Unit and the Events, Marketing and Fundraising Unit, the director of the Haus der Universität (“University House”), the Vice President for International Relations and Science Communication and one professor from each of the five faculties.

In addition to the Programme Advisory Board, there is also a Citizens’ University Round Table. The Round Table serves as a discussion forum, developing recommendations on topics within the remit of the Citizens’ University. It comprises academic staff and representatives of the Central University Administration. These individuals also act as multipliers and communicate the activities of the Citizens’ University to all areas of HHU.

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