Small Disciplines

159 Small Disciplines, 2405 professorships: Small Disciplines may be small, but they are important for the international competitiveness of Germany as a research location, for its reputation, for the standing of its universities and for the training of young academics.

From medical history to linguistics and religious studies to regional studies – around 80 percent of the Small Disciplines are in the humanities and social sciences. Well-networked and internationally positioned, they enable the understanding of cultural, social and economic developments. This is an essential contribution to solving social challenges, as well as to research and preserving our cultural heritage.

In order to strengthen the Small Disciplines, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has launched a whole range of measures. Almost 60 projects demonstrate their capabilities under the slogan "Small Disciplines – Great Potential" (Federal Gazette of 24.06.2016): They have succeeded in establishing a unique university profile in research and education, developing attractive study programmes, and opening up new research fields for young academics. Moreover, studies, annual meetings and conferences have improved knowledge in and about the Small Disciplines.

The “Small Disciplines – University Weeks” ("Kleine Fächer – Hochschulwochen"), organised by the German Rectors' Conference and running since summer 2019, are also making the Small Disciplines better known in selected German universities and beyond. In addition, the BMBF has supported the Small Disciplines Research Centre at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz in setting up the Small Disciplines website in order to enable stronger networking at a national and international level.

With the current BMBF framework programme, a new chapter is commencing in the success story of the Small Disciplines: The funding guideline "Kleine Fächer – Zusammen stark" (Small Disciplines – Strong Together) (Federal Gazette of 02.09.2019) aims to promote and network young researchers. In the main phase, which lasts up to four years, interdisciplinary research groups under the direction of the Small Disciplines will work on a topic of their own choosing. Optionally, this can be followed by a one-year transfer phase in which a concept for strengthening the structure of the Secondary Subject is developed in conjunction with the university management. The Mainz office for Small Disciplines will also continue to receive support, as the development of this subject group is to be studied and documented.