Lichtenberg Professorships in Germany

New Lichtenberg Endowed Professorships

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The funding initiative "Lichtenberg Endowed Professorships” follows on the previous "Lichtenberg Professorships”. The initiative was introduced in summer, 2017. 

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With the "Lichtenberg Endowed Professorships”, the Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft and the Volkswagen Foundation seek to establish a new endowment funding instrument for universities in Germany. The idea is to help universities attract outstanding scholars and scientists from innovative, seminal and risk-prone fields of research. The initiative provides greater planning security for the host universities as well as for the holders of the professorship. Moreover, the initiative enables host universities to implement their innovation and structural policies more independently and dependably than ever before, and they are incentivized to step up their efforts to acquire external funds. At the same time, the initiative sends a signal for more civic engagement in the field of science.

The Funding Offer

Each professorship will be endowed with capital totaling at least five million euro. The Volkswagen Foundation and, if applicable, one of the Stifterverband’s affiliated foundations each enter into a commitment for a starting capital of one million euro per professorship. Another three million euro must be guaranteed by the host university through fundraising. Eligible for funding are highly qualified researchers of all disciplines and nationalities who, together with the target university in Germany, are in international comparison among the leaders in their respective fields of research. 

Who is eligible to apply?

The funding initiative is thematically open and aimed to an equal extent at disciplines in the humani- ties and social sciences as well as the natural and engineering sciences and medicine. The program is also open to researchers of all nationalities, the prerequisite being that the hosting institution is a university in Germany. 

The main target groups of this funding initiative are academics (associate (W2) or full (W3) Professor level), and in particular returnees or applicants from abroad. High demands are placed on the qualifications of the candidates with regard to research performance, previous third-party funding, international experience, and teaching concept. In international comparison, they should be among the lead- ers in their respective subject areas. They must be able to show that they have undertaken a change in their academic environment in the last five years, at the latest with the appointment to the professorship. 

Application and Selection Procedures

The applications must be written in English.

The submitted applications will be examined in a two- stage review process.

  • In the first step, the applications will be assessed by international peer reviewers who meet the subjcet-specific requirements as well as the interdisciplinary character of the respective topic areas.
  • Subsequently, the second stage involves a meeting of all participants (candidate, university management, dean's office, Stifterverband, other sponsors and the reviewers) as a rule in the offices of the Volkswagen Foundation. Here, too, leading international experts are involved, but also people with expertise in university policy.

In the fifth year after the appointment, an on-site visit as final assessment will be conducted with the participation of external evaluators appointed by the Stifterverband and the Foundation.

Evaluation Criteria

  • The applicant’s academic qualifications and reputation
  • Innovative character, originality, and interdisciplinary approach of the selected topic
  • Proposed teaching concept
  • Applicant’s interpersonal skills and leadership qualities
  • Content- and structure-based concept of the university
  • Integration of the thematic focus of the professorship applied for into the strategic concept of the university ​

How to Apply

Further information on funding conditions and submitting applications can be found under Information for Applicants (pdf). Applications must be filed electronically via the electronic application system.

Application date
5-8 years
Social sciences