01. October 2021

University of Bonn recruits top-class researchers University of Bonn recruits top-class researchers

Ethicist Christiane Woopen, agricultural economist Matin Qaim and theologian Klaus von Stosch fill new professorships of excellence

Renowned reinforcement for the University of Bonn: With the first "High profile" professorships financed by excellence funds, three top-class scientific personalities join the University of Excellence to open up new fields of research and to provide important impulses in various disciplines. Ethicist Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen takes up a so-called Hertz Professorship today (October 1), while agricultural economist Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim and Catholic theologian Prof. Dr. Klaus von Stosch fill so-called Schlegel Professorships. The three professors were officially appointed at a reception in the Rector's Office.

Reception at the Rector's Office (from left)
Reception at the Rector's Office (from left) - Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.. Michael Hoch with the appointed Prof. Dr. Klaus von Stosch, Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen and Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim. © Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn
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"For the international competitiveness of the University of Bonn, it is essential to fill top positions in science," emphasized Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch. "That is why we are very happy that we have been able to recruit outstanding, internationally recognized scientists to Bonn for the first 'high profile' professorships of excellence. Beyond their research groups, they will make a valuable contribution to the excellent further development of our faculties and Transdisciplinary Research Areas."

First Hertz Professorship in the Transdisciplinary Research Areas

Major societal challenges and the complex questions they raise cannot be answered by any one scientific discipline alone. This is a thought that the University of Bonn took as an opportunity to establish six university-wide so-called Transdisciplinary Research Areas in the course of the Excellence Strategy funding program.

At the heart of the cross-faculty concept are the Hertz Professorships named after the Bonn physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894). They are filled with renowned researchers who are leaders in their respective fields and sharpen the profile of the Transdisciplinary Research Areas. The professors will receive 4.2 million euros for seven years, giving them considerable scope to establish new fields of research, combine disciplines and provide important impetus.

Interdisciplinary research into life - ethicist Christiane Woopen

The ethicist Christiane Woopen is the first Hertz Professorship - located in the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals, Institutions and Societies". Woopen will focus her research, teaching and consulting on life and the conditions for its development and flourishing. "Technologization, economization, ecologization and globalization put individual and social life under great pressure to transform and shape," she says. At the Center for Life Ethics, she wants to conduct transdisciplinary research into these four dynamics and the ethical aspects associated with them.

"We are proud and happy that we were able to attract Prof. Woopen, because she will strengthen our Transdisciplinary Research Area in a special way," emphasizes TRA spokesperson Prof. Dr. Thomas Dohmen. "With her research on ethically and legally relevant aspects of societal problems and challenges, which can only be answered by involving different disciplines from the humanities and social sciences as well as the life sciences, she will create a link between the different research fields."

The Hertz professorship is designed for close cooperation with scientists from other disciplines - including economics, ecology, medicine, information and communication technologies, cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, theology and law. Ethics serves as a unifying cross-cutting perspective. Together with various social stakeholders, Woopen and her research group also want to develop solution perspectives for currently pressing challenges.

"Interdisciplinary work has accompanied me since my student days," says human physician and philosopher Christiane Woopen. "The University of Bonn offers me and my team great conditions for contributing, together with people from many other sciences and from society, to better understanding and sustainably shaping the complexity of individual and social life in a time of diverse challenges."

Schlegel professorships in the Faculty of Agriculture and the Faculty of Catholic Theology

With the Schlegel Professorships, named after the Bonn philologist August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845), the University of Bonn also establishes high profile chairs in the course of promoting excellence. The "Schlegel Chairs" are filled by the faculties in subjects that belong to the strong research focus areas or the development areas.

World Food and Sustainable Agriculture - Agricultural Economist Matin Qaim

With Matin Qaim as Schlegel Professor of Economic and Technological Change, the Faculty of Agriculture gains a globally renowned agricultural economist. At the same time, he will become the new director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, succeeding Prof. Dr. Joachim von Braun on October 1.

"Prof. Qaim is uniquely qualified to bring together researchers from the Faculty of Agriculture, the Center for Development Research and other faculties of the university," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Heckelei, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture. "Above all, the link between nutrition and food production visible in his research, can decisively advance research activities on core issues of sustainable food systems, which are currently still fragmented to some extent."

Matin Qaim's interdisciplinary work addresses issues of world food and sustainable agriculture in the context of scarce natural resources, climate change and pressing environmental problems. Among other things, he and his research group analyze issues of poverty and food insecurity and their underlying socioeconomic causes. In addition, Qaim assesses the impact of agricultural policies and other national and international megatrends on human welfare and equity. He has conducted research in many countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America and has a global network of collaborators. Through his research, he aims to help generate knowledge useful for promoting sustainable development.

"Bonn offers an excellent environment for global sustainability research and international development policy," Qaim says of the new appointment. "I am very much looking forward to working at the University of Excellence in the future." The appointment also helps build the profile of the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Futures."

Comparative theology with a focus on Islam - Theologian Klaus von Stosch

Another Schlegel professorship is filled by Klaus von Stosch, a world-renowned expert in comparative theology with a focus on Islam. He is considered one of the authoritative voices in international Catholic systematic theology. In a global perspective, religions play a major role in addressing major social, cultural, political, and ecological challenges. As a scholarly "bridge builder," Klaus von Stosch addresses major ethical, social, and political issues in interreligious and intercultural conversation.

"With the Schlegel Professorship for Systematic Theology with special consideration of societal challenges, the Faculty of Catholic Theology seizes a great opportunity," emphasizes Dean Prof. Dr. Dr. Jochen Sautermeister. "Prof. von Stosch enjoys an excellent reputation. As a proven expert in the field of comparative theology, especially in the conversation with Islam, he will strengthen our faculty and the university with his field of research and focus."

Klaus von Stosch is very well connected in the European, Anglo-American and Islamic worlds. "I am looking forward to the new task in Bonn and would like to make a contribution to linking the university even more closely with top international research in the field of theology," says von Stosch. "My comparative research in the conversation of religions in particular can help make the social relevance of theology more visible." The new professorship is closely linked to the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals, Institutions and Societies".

Brief curricula vitae of the appointees

Christiane Woopen studied human medicine and philosophy in Cologne, Bonn and Hagen. Before joining the University of Bonn, she was executive director of the interfaculty center CERES, professor of ethics and theory of medicine, and head of the Ethics Research Unit at the University of Cologne. In recent years, she has been a member of numerous international expert groups, most recently as chair of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, which advises the European Commission, chair of the German Ethics Council, president of the 11th Global Summit of National Ethics/Bioethics Committees, member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO, and co-spokesperson of the Data Ethics Commission of the German government. Woopen is a member of Academia Europaea, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts. In 2017, she was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class. Christiane Woopen is a member of the ECONtribute Cluster of Excellence at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne.

Matin Qaim started his academic career with a diploma in agricultural sciences at the University of Kiel. He completed his doctorate at the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn on the topic of "Potential Impacts of Crop Biotechnology in Developing Countries" in 2000. He then did postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley, USA, and habilitated in agricultural and development economics at the University of Bonn in 2003. A year later, he accepted an appointment at the University of Hohenheim as Professor of International Agricultural Trade and Food Security. In 2007, he followed a professorship offer from the University of Göttingen, where he initiated and led several collaborative research projects on sustainable agriculture and food security as spokesperson. He has received numerous honors and awards for his pioneering work. In 2018, he was elected a member of the Leopoldina National Academy of Sciences, and in 2019 he received the highest honor of the U.S. Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. In July 2021, he was elected president-elect of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), the scientific society of world agricultural economists.

Klaus von Stosch studied Catholic theology, philosophy and economic policy at the University of Bonn and at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. In 2001, he received his doctorate in dogmatics from the University of Bonn and subsequently habilitated in fundamental theology at the University of Münster. Before his appointment to Bonn, he was Professor of Catholic Theology (Systematic Theology) and its Didactics at the University of Paderborn, where he presided over the internationally renowned Center for Comparative Theology and Cultural Studies, which he founded. International research visits have taken von Stosch to the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School, Georgetown University, and the University of Religions and Denominations in Qom, Iran. His publications have been translated into several European and non-European languages in addition to English. His work has been recognized internationally through various awards.

Video of the reception at the rector’s office: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfIpfWWepPk

Reception at the Rector's Office
Reception at the Rector's Office - The appointees Prof. Dr. Klaus von Stosch, Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim and Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen (bottom, from left) with Prof. Dr. Jochen Sautermeister, Dean of the Faculty of Catholic Theology, Prof. Dr. Clemens Albrecht, Speaker of the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals, Institutions and Societies" (middle, from left), Prof. Dr. Jürgen von Hagen, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science, and Prof. Dr. Thomas Heckelei, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture (top, from left). © Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn
Reception at the Rector's Office
Reception at the Rector's Office - The appointed Prof. Dr. Klaus von Stosch, Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim and Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen (bottom, from left) with Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer, Prorector for Research and Young Academics, and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch, Rector of the University of Bonn (top, from left). © Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn
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