The university of Bremen is turning 50 years old in 2021. Much has changed since 1971. To this day, however, hat retained what was distinguished it for five decades - it is open to everyone. We take a look back at the University of Bremen’s impressive evolution. Using facts and figures, we illustrate how a courageous reform project became one of Europe’s top research universities with more than 19,000 students in just five decades.
The University of Bremen is a campus university with short distances and flat hierarchies across disciplines. This both facilitates and enriches the interactions of the more than 23,000 people who work and study here. The real feat is remaining open to all, while creating a sense of strong cohesion at the same time.
The university should reflect life in all its global diversity – it considers this a top priority. Individuals can only understand the world if different cultures, lifestyles, and points of view contribute to this understanding. This, however, requires that the members of the university interact as equals and seek common ground.
Because certain 2020 figures have been skewed by the coronavirus pandemic, the most recent data in some of the diagrams is from 2019.
People at the University
The University of Bremen has participated in the “Zukunftschance Ausbildung” (“Vocational Training Creates Opportunities for the Future”) project since 2014. The project helps young refugees gain the qualifications they need to enter a vocational training program by completing an introductory program that lasts about one year. The first refugees passed their final exams in 2018. Today, they work as biology lab technicians at the university. A total of 38 refugees have participated in the successful program so far. Generally speaking, the range of vocational training programs offered at the university extends from manual and technical occupations to laboratory professions and service occupations.
The University of Bremen was literally built on a greenfield site. From roads to power lines to buildings, constructing a university and its infrastructure from scratch was a daunting civil engineering task, but it also presented a great opportunity. In the process, the 1970s vision of the city of the future was implemented at the center of the site, which meant, among other things, separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic and placing them on different levels. The boulevard still bears witness to this today.
Digitization at the University of Bremen has been progressing intensively in all areas and has only accelerated in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. What did people imagine the digital university of today would look like in 1995? Here is a quote from Klaus Haefner, a professor of computer science in Bremen, from that time: “First, every student will have a portable computer that will allow them to directly access the world’s knowledge. The sheer volume of content will be significantly reduced in favor of these key skills: quickly understanding a problem, organizing a project, writing essays, which of course can be entered via speech […]. No one will touch a keyboard in 2020.”
(* Denkzeug statt Aufklärung, in: Uni Extra (taz Bremen) 1995)
Art on Campus
On September 11, 1973, the military in Chile staged a coup. A large protest was held in Bremen and the people stood in solidarity for a “free Chile.” The university created opportunities for refugees to study and work. In 1976, during a week of solidarity, the group of artists “Brigada Luis Corvalán” create the 21-meter-long mural “Terror and Resistance in Chile” in the tradition of Mexican mural painting. A half-scale reconstruction can be seen today at the GW1 building on Universitätsallee.
At the University of Bremen, art is not used as decoration, but as a problem-solving tool and food for thought. More than 50 paintings, installations, and sculptures can be found on campus.
Culture on Campus
The University of Bremen’s concert hall opens its doors. Originally built as a theater, it is available for cultural events of all kinds. During the semester, the theater hall regularly hosts concerts for small ensembles as small as a solo to larger ensembles, and in all musical genres: classical, tango, jazz, rock, pop, and ethnic music from around the world. For approximately 20 years, free lunchtime concerts have been a mainstay of the concert program in the theater.
University Cafeteria of the Studierendenwerk Bremen
In 1997, the old cafeteria burns down. After being completely renovated and remodeled, the new cafeteria is a huge hit. It opens three years and around 37 million deutsche marks later with chicken breast cordon bleu, thyme-roasted vegetables, and boiled potatoes. The Studierendenwerk Bremen’s university cafeteria on campus is now one of the largest and highest-grossing cafeterias in Germany. It serves as a central meeting place on campus.
80% fewer disposable cups since 2017. Studierendenwerk Bremen is a pioneer in single-use plastic avoidance.
State and University Library
The main location of the State and University Library (SuUB) opened on the boulevard. It was the first open-access library in Germany. One aspect that was entirely new was that students and researchers were meant to be able to find the titles they needed on the shelves themselves and to borrow them as needed. As a result, the SuUb adopted a completely different approach to the previously common reference libraries without lending, in which volumes were usually not freely accessible. At that time, as is the case today, the focus was on the needs of the users.
More facts and figures wanted? Have a look in the Yearbook
Check out our website 50 Years of the University of Bremen