Society – Internationalization – Social Initiatives

RWTH is continually working on creating and improving the framework conditions that allow all individuals – regardless of their circumstances and (social) backgrounds – to successfully learn, research, and work at the University. The cross-cutting tasks of gender and diversity, knowledge transfer, internationalization, intercultural and family-friendly topics, accessibility, inclusion, and educational equality, are therefore taken into consideration and developed in all spheres of action at RWTH and applied via research, teaching and learning, governance, and operations. RWTH stands for an organizational culture where individual, social, and cultural diversity is understood, promoted, and required as an enhancement and a quality characteristic. This collective understanding is also formulated in RWTH’s Sustainability Mission Statement:

Our goal is (...) to actively foster a culture of responsible and inclusive cooperation. (…)
Sustainability is a clear priority for us. It is firmly established as an important cross-cutting task in all areas of the University, in the same manner to gender and diversity, transfer, and internationalization.(…)
For us, sustainability also means that we, as a public employer, actively recognize and embrace our special obligation for inclusion, i.e. by recruiting, training, and employing staff with chronic illnesses and/or (severe) disabilities. Promoting an open and tolerant organizational culture where differences are appreciated and respected is also a feature of sustainable development. We understand gender equity and diversity, the acceptance of all lifestyles, diversity, and equal opportunities to be fundamental to our staff policy and we consistently act according to these guidelines. We value diversity in the RWTH community and see it as an opportunity and potential for both individual members and the University as a whole. In addition, we strive to create health-oriented processes and structures and strengthen our health literacy with a prevention-oriented approach.

RWTH Sustainability Mission Statement

The following section provides an overview of the wide range of initiatives at RWTH and its strong commitment in the areas of society, internationalization, and social initiatives. The topics of internationalization, equal opportunities, continuing education - qualification - young scientists and the Common Good: Knowledge Transfer to Society are explained. Further insights are provided by a greeting from Aachen's mayor and selected sample projects.

Professor Ute Habel, Prorector for International Affairs and Professor Sabine Brück-Dürkop, Prorec-tor for Human Resources and Young Scientists in front of a glass wall. Professor Habel in pink blouse and black trousers, Professor Brück-Dürkop in dark blue shimmering blouse and black trousers. They smile into the camera.
from left: Vice-Rector for International Affairs Ute Habel, Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development Sabine Brück-Dürkop

Being sustainable means that we take responsibility for our environment, our economy, and our society. Thanks to our wide range of courses, we as a university can raise awareness of sustainability with our students at an early stage, focusing their education on this topic, and helping to give future generations the skills to implement sustainable processes and solutions in their professional lives.

All areas of the University, even beyond teaching and academics, focus on equal opportunities and protection against prejudice. RWTH aims to be a place that allows individuals to advance their education, to carry out research, and to build careers regardless of their gender, age, geographical, cultural, or social background, their health, their family situation, or any other personal characteristics. After all, it will only be possible to utilize the talent of all University members and attract outstanding and diverse students, scientists, and technical and administrative employees if RWTH can continue to position itself as an internationally recognized university as a result of its strength in research and teaching.

For RWTH, internationalization exists in close correlation and interaction with all three dimensions of sustainability – environmental, economic, and social aspects. This is illustrated by the fact that sustainability is embedded in our internationalization strategy as well as through the various measures such as those implemented as part of capacity building. We are working on making education accessible to everyone while reducing inequalities and promoting partnerships with developing countries and emerging nations. At the same time, there is a conflict of objectives in internationalization, namely between the desire to strengthen and maintain international partnerships while also minimizing the environmental impact caused by travel. New and creative solutions need to be found here. Some trips are therefore supplemented or replaced by virtual meetings, but others are essential in learning about the culture and real lives of other places in person in order to overcome cultural barriers and work together to shape the future.


Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. soc.

Sabine Brück-Dürkop
Ute Habel

Vice-Rector for
Human Resources Management and Development

Vice-Rector for
International Affairs



A honeycomb structure is shown, running from left to right. The institutions and persons represented in the honeycombs support the internationalization process. First column on the far left, four honeycombs: Center for Professional Learning, Department of Plan-ning, Development and Controlling, Department of Academic and Student Affairs, Center for Doc-toral Studies.  Second column with three honeycombs: Media for Teaching, Department of Human Resources, IT Center. Third column, four honeycombs: Department of Research and Careers, Faculty Administration, Career Cen-ter, Student Associations.  Fourth column, three honeycombs: AStA, IDEALiStiC, the institutes and chairs, Student Buddies.  Penultimate column, two honeycombs: Rector's Office Representative for International Cooperation, Department of International University Relations.  Last is a honeycomb centered with the Prorector.  From this, two arrows go in the direction of a globe, headed with internationalization.
Stakeholders Involved in the Cross-Sectional Task of Internationalization

People from over 130 countries are currently studying, researching, teaching, and working at RWTH. Addressing and integrating the University’s existing internationalization initiatives in a holistic way was a key factor in retaining RWTH’s University of Excellence status. The Internationalization Strategy focused on three areas in particular: Strengthening the international profile, fostering an international science culture, and taking social responsibility at an international level.
As part of a large-scale process involving representatives from various areas of the University, we are currently working on readjusting internationalization at RWTH. Focal points of this readjustment include further integration with the University's profile and its strategy for teaching and learning, digitalization, sustainability, equal opportunities, and staff development. Support for the project is provided in the form of the Internationalization of Universities audit being performed by the German Rectors’ Conference. This audit requires the participation and collaboration of University groups, profile areas, and Clusters of Excellence.
The new internationalization strategy will actively deal with institutional objective conflicts, such as the desire to increase international mobility versus the desire to protect the environment.

In concrete terms, more environmentally friendly conduct will be promoted, as will content-related work aimed at meeting sustainability targets. This will be achieved through measures that include international mobility programs such as Erasmus+. The promotion of environmentally friendly international mobility, but also the raising of awareness regarding the topics of sustainability and the climate crisis, are key aspects of the transversal focus of “sustainability” in the new generation of the Erasmus+ program.
This is put into practice at RWTH in the form of virtual mobility options, for example, as well as the prioritization of traineeships in the area of environmental protection and sustainability, and the expansion of the Certificate International to include “green” semi-elective components.

Voluntary work relating to internationalization is documented and recognized at RWTH through the Certificate International, which was expanded to include the Go Abroad, Go Green elective components in the 2021 summer semester. The aim of these new components is to recognize the commitment of RWTH students abroad to sustainable projects or initiatives (e.g. participation in projects relating to sustainable energy supply, or waste-collection campaigns) and their attendance of courses on the topic of sustainability at the host university.
RWTH also supports staff mobility through training and exchange programs (e.g. Erasmus Staff Training Exchange Programme or “Professional Weeks” for administration employees or tailored trips abroad and research partnerships for academic staff). The Certificate International for Employees incentive system is designed to raise awareness of the topic of sustainability among University members and to motivate them to adopt sustainable habits.
The topic of sustainability has been addressed in international research collaborations for many years now, such as in the Indo-German Center for Sustainability or the Global Water and Climate Adaptation Center, which both carry out research into climate-adaptation measures in the Global South, primarily in the water sector. Particular support is provided for this and many other international, interdisciplinary collaborative projects by University Management and the International Office. RWTH also integrates the work that is performed regarding sustainability issues into its international strategic partnerships and networks.

The central topic of capacity building also offers participation opportunities. The Vice-Rector for International Affairs has therefore set out a cross-faculty Capacity Building Working Group that covers all representative groups at the University, in order to comply with the responsibilities that come with being a German University of Excellence. This includes responsibility for a more balanced global scientific community that allows “brain circulation” for everyone’s benefit, as well as the increasingly important role of university collaborations with countries from the Global South. Individual activities that have been performed to date are pooled here, awareness about the topic is raised at RWTH, and an exchange of ideas is encouraged beyond the various University groups. External experts are invited to consultations and various target countries from within two particular target regions of Africa and eastern and southeastern Europe are identified – with the aim of establishing and developing University-wide cooperation with these countries. The objective is to coordinate these activities as far as possible, to establish partnerships that offer links and collaboration opportunities for all of the faculties, and to jointly apply to funding programs, thereby developing collaborations with partners from the Global South, taking into account the interests of both parties.
Collaborations with student initiatives at RWTH are key here, as they are an important part of the working group. Members of all faculties and University groups can participate in the working group and the planned activities at any time.

Equal Opportunities

Timeline Equal Opportunity at RWTH. The entries are chronologically anchored above or below each other with a line. Awards: since 2000 Women's Promotion Award, since 2005 TOTAL Q-EUALITY award, since 2009 audit family-friendly university, 2011 German Diversity Award, since 2017 TOTAL E-QUALITY & Diversity award. Responsibilities & structures: since 1991 Women's/Equal Opportunity Officer, since 2007 Rector's Office Integration Team, since 2010 Action Alliance Round Table Equal Treatment & Anti-Discrimination. Since 2013 Complaints Office, since 2015 forumDIVERSITY, since 2018 Inclusion Working Group. Guidelines and concepts: 1999 1st plan for the advancement of women, 2011 guideline for partnership-based action, 2008 1st equality concept, 2013 diversity concept, guideline for protection against discrimination, 2017 personnel development concept, since 2017 framework plan, faculty plans, action concept for equality, 2018 guidelines for equal opportunities, since 2021 action plan inclusio
Developments in Equal Opportunities

RWTH advocates a comprehensive understanding of equal opportunities and sees its task here as enabling all members of the University to treat one another as equals and without prejudice. The University therefore considers the appreciation and recognition of diversity a highly important value. Equal opportunities is firmly embedded at management level as an interdisciplinary topic from both a structural and strategic perspective, and is prescribed in the aforementioned strategy papers (see Figure) as a basic requirement for the lasting entrenchment and implementation of equal opportunities at all levels of the University.

RWTH regularly applies for relevant certification and competition procedures. Since 2005, the University has regularly been awarded the title of TOTAL E-QUALITY, and was additionally awarded the newly created Diversity title in 2017 and 2020. This is a way for the University to consistently document its ambitions and strategies regarding equal opportunities and to clearly demonstrate its attractiveness as an employer. RWTH has been certified under the Family-Friendly University Audit for 13 years, for example. In 2019, the University received the permanent certificate after successfully completing a so-called dialogue procedure. The Family-Friendly University Audit by berufundfamilie GmbH thereby supports RWTH’s comprehensive range of activities for firmly establishing family-friendly working and study conditions.

A pie chart with three levels illustrates RWTH gender governance. The outer ring is divided into five sections. Starting at the top right: rectorate, staff representatives, general student committee, group representatives, senate. The middle ring is not divided. The dor-tigen groups, projects and others are assigned to the outer groups of actors and overlap. Starting below the rectorate: cooperation part-ners ZHV, faculties, as well as the senate commission for equality. Below the staff representatives, the Queer Department. In the middle below the Round Table Equal Treatment & Antidiscrimination and the Equality Project of the Student Body. At the top left, Gender Studies and forumDiversity.  In the middle of the diagram is a three-part circle. In the top right, the Prorectorate for Human Re-sources and Young Scientists, in the bottom center the Equal Opportunity Office and decentralized faculty representatives, and in the top left the Integration Team.
Gender Governance

The topic of equal opportunities has been embedded in University policy for many years with specialist representative staff. The full-time Equal Opportunities Officer and up to three delegates from different University groups are elected by the Senate, appointed by the rector, and supported by the local Equal Opportunities Officers at the individual faculties. The Integration Team – Human Resources, Gender and Diversity Management (IGaD) was also founded as part of the University of Excellence initiative, with the aim of encouraging the recognition of differences at all levels of the University and providing impetus for the active promotion of equality and equal opportunities. Within the University, the Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development, the IGaD, and the Equal Opportunities Office work in close collaboration on the issues of equal opportunities and diversity. All stakeholders are active in local, national, and international networks which helps to guarantee solid benchmarking.

Additional institutions also deal with and promote equal opportunities at the University, with all groups participating in the strategic and operational planning and implementation (See Figure). As members of the Equal Treatment and Nondiscrimination Round Table action group, various information centers and other individuals work together to actively encourage a culture of identifying and addressing problems while also promoting fairness and equal treatment. It is against this backdrop that the action group addresses concrete cases of unequal treatment, discrimination, unfair conduct, harrassment, aggression, and sexual assault and fights against these in a targeted manner.
The topic of equal opportunities is backed up by a wide range of concrete measures at RWTH, which are enabled or supported by the aforementioned framework conditions.
The central contact point for all members of the University is the Family Services Center, which provides a wide range of information, customized and confidential advice, as well as concrete measures relating to starting a family, studying as a parent, childcare, and caring for relatives. Managers are taught about and supported in their responsibility towards employees with the Golden Rules for Family-Friendly Management handout (PDF). In the course of the University of Excellence initiative, equality-related areas of responsibility have been made more permanent at RWTH, and have therefore been firmly integrated into the services offered by the University. These include the Equal Opportunity Career Paths project that sets out new paths for the equal division of household and family work, and the Gender Consulting for Research Applications and Projects, which provides coordinated DFG projects in particular with binding advice on issues relating to equality and equal opportunities during the application stage and over the course of the project. The TANDEMstud and TANDEMdok mentoring programs have been made a more permanent offering of the University as part of the Family-Friendly University state program.

In order to ensure that its efforts extend beyond campus boundaries and to give them a broader reach in the interest of sustainability, RWTH is involved in various networks in local, regional, national, and international spaces. For example, RWTH is a member of CESAER (Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research), an association of leading engineering and scientific universities in Europe that stands for sustainable and high-quality education and research, as well the integration of education, research, and innovation in the interests of the common good. Within this network, universities have collectively recognized the need to accelerate the attainment of equal opportunities, diversity, and inclusion, and are committed, among other things, to promoting awareness of equal opportunities, overcoming internal resistance, and leading by example and explicitly increasing the visibility of equal opportunities and diversity.

Externes Video
Sie haben Cookies von Youtube abgelehnt, deshalb kann dieses Video nicht angezeigt werden.
Cookie-Banner erneut aufrufen

Inhalt des Videos:
The three-minute video on the SPEAR project is accompanied by music and conveys all information through English text modules, backed by graphic elements. In 2018, out of almost 15 million scientists and engineers in the EU, 59% were men and 41% wo-men, accoring to Eurostat fiugures. Between 2013-2016, the highest proportions of women among grade A were observed in the huma-nities (32.1%), the social (28.1%) and the medical sciences (27.5%) The smallest proportions were observed in engineering and technology (12%) and in natural sciences (18.1%). According to SHE figures. Where do we find inequality? In research and education, several factors contribute to inequality: Recruitment, Conscious and un-conscious biases, social practices, work/life balance. Such structrual inequality leads to many poor solutions and skewed consequences. What are some oft he potential consequences? Diminished Knowledge Outcomes, fewer discoveries, fewer innovative opportunities. What is SPEAR doing to reduce gender inequality in academia? SPEAR has initiated institutional changes in 9 European Research Performing Organizations and is implementing Gender Equality Plans. Increase the participation of women in R&I and improve their career prospects, improve gender ba-lance in decision-making bodies, strengthen the gender dimension in research and innovation, in-crease the number of RPOs and HEIs implementing GEPs. What has SPEAR accomplished in the past moth? 1 facilitated workshops with experts in SPEAR RPOs to establish communities developing GEPs through SPEAR Community of Learning & Community of Practice 2 set up an evaluation modelt o monitor and qualify this progress 3 developed and disseminated virutal learning materials 4 contributed tot he developement of Horizon europes focus on gender equality through oint actions with sister projects 5 engaged stakeholders, and expanded national and international gender equallity networks beyond the SPEAR consortium Future Plans: finalizing and implementing institutional GEPs in our RPOs. Lets build together a balanced and equal academic environment for all!

RWTH’s involvement in three EU projects aimed at creating institutional change in science and research by implementing equality plans (Supporting and implementing Plans for Gender Equality in Academia and Research (SPEAR), CHAlleNging Gender (In)Equality in science and research (CHANGE), and Leading Towards Sustainable Gender Equality Plans in research performing organizations (LeTSGEPs)) also emphatically demonstrates that the University as a whole as well as its members from the extremely wide range of different departments are thinking and acting in a holistic and sustainable manner when it comes to equal opportunities.

Continuing Education – Skills Development – Early-Career Researchers

Motivated, highly qualified, and satisfied employees are essential to ensuring excellent research and teaching. This is why RWTH has dedicated itself to supporting its staff in research and research management as well as its technical and administrative employees with comprehensive and targeted staff development measures. The University’s staff development goals, processes, and measures are designed, among other things, to help identify excellent researchers early on and encourage them to stay at RWTH. They also facilitate the expansion of structured skills training concepts and equal-opportunity employment conditions, and help enhance employees’ quality of working life. These measures should furthermore encourage RWTH employees to identify with the University, and have a lasting effect on their transferable skills development.
The offers for transferable skills training and career development are largely pooled in Department  12 – Staff Development and Talent Management and are structured based on the target group. The RWTH Center for Young Academics (CYA) is the central point of contact for early-career researchers at RWTH. Apart from offering advice, assistance, and guidance, the CYA provides continuing education and career development opportunities for doctoral candidates and postdocs. The goal of the CYA is to establish a culture of support across the University. This culture shall inform all activities in support of early-career researchers at RWTH that are offered by individuals and departments from the RWTH faculties (such as graduate schools), Central University Administration, and the University’s central institutions. The CYA thereby supports young talents in effectively developing individually tailored long-term career paths, teaches them essential transferable core skills, and promotes communication between the various stakeholders to help guarantee quality assurance.
Part of the Center for Young Academics, the RWTH Doctoral Academy (formerly Center for Doctoral Studies) supplements the specialist qualification of doctoral candidates with services aimed at the development of transferable skills. These services help the doctoral candidates attain their doctorate, support them in their research activities, help them craft the right career path both within and beyond academia, and inspire personal growth. A corresponding support program for postdoctoral researchers is offered by the RWTH Postdoc Academy.
As part of the University’s commitment to promote early-career researchers, the CYA strives to support academic staff who, in addition to their technical expertise, also demonstrate a wide interdisciplinary focus and multidisciplinary skills (T-shaped profile). The combination of topics for promoting young talent – namely scientific integrity, interdisciplinarity, teaching competence, research data management, and responsible research and innovation – helps to ensure that our researchers learn to take responsibility for the sustainability-related impact of their research in compliance with the basics of Good Scientific Practice.
In addition to undertaking excellent research and teaching, postdocs, research managers, Advanced Talents (e.g. junior professors, postdocs with awards and fellowships), and professors have to fulfill demanding leadership responsibilities. In order to best serve this target group, the RWTH Center for Professional Leadership performs analyses of training needs and then offers extensive (certified) leadership development opportunities based on them. This enables those in leadership positions to reflect on and develop their activities under consideration of social, economic, and ecological aspects and to act in accordance with RWTH's leadership principles.

The Center for Staff Development offer skills training opportunities (such as seminars, coaching sessions, job shadowing placements, and guidelines, etc.) for technical and administrative employees and non-professorial academic staff. The world of work is subject to constant change and transformation, which results in new requirements, activities, and job roles. The Center for Staff Development offers a forward-looking seminar program to facilitate the development of technical competencies (such as administrative and IT skills), language proficiency, and interdisciplinary skills.

With its Excellent Academic Teaching (ExAcT) department, the Center for Teaching and Learning Services (CLS) offers all teaching staff at RWTH the opportunity to develop and expand their teaching skills. With this in mind, ExAcT combines skills development and certification as well as research and networking opportunities by offering demand-oriented seminars and workshops, individual advising, targeted education and research offers, and a networking framework for teaching staff in higher education to share and discuss their ideas. By enabling scholars to hone their skill sets, ExAcT contributes to forward-looking teaching and learning. In addition to the target-group-oriented services described above, RWTH also has a wide range of technical qualification programs. These are offered at various internal (centralized), affiliated, and external institutions such as the University Library, the Writing Center and Language Center, the Research Data Management Working Group, and HumTec.

In order to structure these services, to develop them in a systematic manner, and to ensure they remain a permanent feature in the University offerings, the RWTH Staff Development Concept was developed in 2017 with the involvement of all University committees and based on the Guidelines for Staff Development from 2012 (see Infographic 5.3 B). The concept describes the status quo as well as important current and future spheres of action and appropriate measures that are being developed or implemented. This creates transparency between the various services and the involved parties and shows whether measures are compliant with the University Strategy and whether corresponding targets have been met. After a five-year period, in 2021, the measures set out in the Staff Development Concept were evaluated in close coordination with representatives from all University groups and other stakeholders. The integrated topics and spheres of action are pooled, processed, and gradually further developed by Department 12 – Staff Development and Talent Management in close cooperation with the Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development and departments such as IGaD.

In addition to the issues and topics that have already been discussed, the following aspects also need to be emphasized with regard to various sustainability dimensions:

Sustainable Effectiveness of Staff Development Measures

The sustainable effectiveness of implemented measures can be seen by the impact they have on staff behavior, which is established through regular employee surveys. Transferable skills training helps both scientific staff and technical and administrative employees professionalize their work – i.e. with their methodological, communication, and social skills. In line with the RWTH staff development spheres of action, employees’ leadership skills, their innovation and research capability, and their teaching skills shall thus be enhanced and their motivation and personal growth spurred. The measures furthermore aim to promote equality and diversity at the University, build a sense of unity, and encourage employees to want to contribute to RWTH’s success. These goals can be achieved, among others, by performing quality assurance checks and regularly updating course content. Quality assurance in this context relates both to the content, formats, and methods of teaching as well as to the selection of instructors. The use of digital evaluation surveys for each course as well as a “transfer evaluation” three months after the qualification program both help to ensure that a standardized evaluation of the courses is made. Since the evaluations allow RWTH to assess course content, instructors, and formats and to draw conclusions about employees’ ability to put the newly acquired knowledge into practice in their day-to-day work, this in turn makes it possible to evaluate the lasting impact of these measures.

Sustainable Handling of Resources

The large number of career development programs for several thousands of employees at RWTH means that there is a particular urgency to focus on the resource-friendly design of these programs. In general, seminar documents (e.g. evaluation surveys, seminar documentation provided by the speakers for the participants, or attendance certificates) are not printed out but are instead provided to participants and speakers in a digital format. The expansion of virtual formats also contributes to the conservation of resources, helping to reduce the costs for rooms, materials, energy, travel, catering, and time. The use of virtual formats is improved and increased not least for this reason, and the technical and pedagogical requirements are being further developed together with external trainers and involved parties from RWTH. This makes it possible to meet the needs of higher numbers of participants and allows for increased flexibility in terms of location and time. In the medium term, the plan is to implement virtual and in-person programs equally, always considering the aspects of pedagogical effectiveness and necessary use of resources.

The optimized use of resources is supported by the conversion to virtual processes within Department 12 – Staff Development and Talent Management. Managing courses using management software and digital mapping of accounting processes are two good examples of this. Additional optimization potential with the aim of resource conservation is created by professional process management within the department, as well as the increased use of internal experts (which, among others, has the positive environmental impact of external trainers not having to travel to and from the University).

Collaborations with institutions beyond RWTH, such as with Forschungszentrum Jülich and Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, are particularly beneficial, both in terms of the fruitful sharing of ideas among the various members and the synergistic effects in organizational and financial matters.

Sustainability as a Topic in Skills Development Programs

The topic of sustainability in skills development programs can relate both to the resource conservation processes described above and to the sustainable impact of the working tasks in the fields of management, research, teaching, transfer, and organization. This will, in the future, be brought more closely to the attention of the various University groups and will be included as a cross-cutting task.

In some ways, sustainability is already treated as a prominent topic, as shown by the third VDI Doctoral Student Day, held in 2021, which focused on Sustainability in Doctoral Education. This event was organized by Department 12 in cooperation with the Association of German Engineers e.V. (VDI) and in close internal collaboration with the Sustainability and University Governance Staff Unit.

Currently, no continuing education courses directly address sustainability as a topic but the comprehensive range of range of measures aimed at transferable skills development already facilitates the establishment of more sustainable structures, processes, and, in particular, career paths. Ways in which this is achieved include the fact that supervisors are systematically prepared for their role or that postdocs continually reflect on their performance and their career potential in coaching programs. Giving insight into new perspectives and current developments is also the objective of many of the continuing education courses such as in the lecture on “Racism in code”. In this lecture, the speaker explains how algorithms and artificial intelligence can encourage racism and how this problem can be addressed.

Mayor Sibylle Keupen and Rector Ulrich Rüdiger in front of a glass wall. Ms. Keupen in a dark blue blazer and white top, Professor Rüdiger in a blue suit, white shirt and red tie.  Both are smiling into the camera.
von links: Oberbürgermeisterin Sibylle Keupen, Rektor Ulrich Rüdiger

Not only do the City of Aachen and RWTH work together as partnering institutions, but they are also closely linked by the campus as a place to study, work, and live:
On the one hand, the city is a place many students and researchers call home and where they experience some of the most important life stages, such as their university years, romantic relationships, the launch of their careers, and starting a family. On the other hand, RWTH, as the largest employer and promoter of new businesses and innovations here, helps us ensure that Aachen retains its position as the region’s economic powerhouse.

I am all the more delighted that RWTH has included us as partners in its first sustainability report, making the city’s commitment in this area visible too. We want to work together to shape the future in a sustainable way, whether by actively promoting our citizens’ quality of life in the city or through collaborations in fair trade, start-up support, and construction, to name just a few areas. The design of Campus West, which will define the city and consolidate its position as a city of science, also offers a significant opportunity that we can make the most of together. To design a sustainable future, we must and will continue to work in close collaboration with one another.

Of particular importance are the vibrant places where citizens of the city share unique cultural experiences with researchers and students, whether in the Future Labs, at the Uni at City Hall, and SeptemberSpecial events, or in the Öcher Lab. Such activities demonstrate how RWTH and the city complement each other – a symbiosis that makes Aachen such an attractive place to live. I look forward to experiencing and shaping it alongside you now and in the future.


Sibylle Keupen

Lord Mayor of Aachen


The Common Good: Knowledge Transfer to Society

In a light RWTH blue colored circle offers of the RWTH and the city of Aachen for the transfer into the society are shown. In the center of each outer line, there is an icon with a stylized RWTH main building on the left and the stylized Aachen Cathedral on the right. On the upper and lower edge of the circle arrows point to both sides of the icons. In the center of the circle, various offerings and structures are listed: engaged city, Living Labs Incubator, Oecher Lab, Responsible Research and Innovation Hub, RWTHextern, RWTH THEMEN, RWTHtransparent, Uni im Rathaus, Wissenschaftsnacht. The fact that this is only a selection is made clear by three dots at the bottom of the list.
Knowledge Transfer to Society (A Selection)

As a public institution mostly financed by the general public, RWTH has the duty to provide its findings and knowledge to the community and to proactively shape this knowledge transfer. But the transfer of knowledge and innovation to society does not only go one way: Looking at how the knowledge is used in practice provides universities with feedback that allows them to critically reflect on their own scientific work. Such feedback is provided in collaborations between practice and academia, for example, which promotes an application-oriented approach in the degree programs as well as graduate employability, or through research processes where questions are derived from societal problems or where developed technologies are tested in practical applications.

Close collaborations between Universities and society with an objective of sustainable development thereby makes it possible for all involved parties to increase both their knowledge and their capacity to take action. RWTH sees social responsibility as an intrinsic basis of being a University of Excellence – a status it has held since 2007. It has lived up to this responsibility right from the very beginning, when it stated its intention for the transfer of knowledge to society in its founding. This remains a significant characteristic of the University to this day.

Externes Video
Sie haben Cookies von Youtube abgelehnt, deshalb kann dieses Video nicht angezeigt werden.
Cookie-Banner erneut aufrufen

Inhalt des Videos:
Video of the series "Explain it to me, RWTH" on the topic of transformation with Professor Peter Letmathe. Start RWTH logo, 2 image sequence shows a speech bubble with the series title "Erklär's mir, RWTH!". An interview begins. The two men are standing on the plane tree square at Templergraben. In the background you can see trees as well as the SuperC. On the left is interviewer Sebastian Dreher, in a black shirt, from the press department, holding a microphone. On the right is Professor Letmathe, in a white shirt. Both men can be seen up to their upper bodies.

Living labs constitute a central research infrastructure of the future for technical universities, allowing them to overcome challenges posed by finding sustainable solutions to problems, with the involvement of all relevant bodies, the use of complex technology, and the development of social innovations. Living labs should be designed to be participatory, context-sensitive, and sustainable. The Living Labs Incubator, which is being developed as a measure for the ongoing Excellence Strategy (PDF) and is funded via the Excellence Strategy, systematically links the living labs initiatives both at RWTH and in the vicinity, and develops methodological and data-related knowledge as well as a corresponding infrastructure. Living labs require an advanced, sensitive, and collaborative research data management system that complies with ethical guidelines and data protection requirements.

As part of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Hub, which is also funded by the Excellence Strategy, intensive collaborations are pursued between science and society, which contributes to more mutual transparency and acceptance. The intention is that solutions to complex societal challenges will emerge as a result of this cooperation. The Hub is a driving force and a platform for joint action at the interface between science and society and initiates and provides support for various different projects. Its activities include projects for setting up governance structures, the establishment of cooperation and networks at a regional level with the Aachen Volunteering Office through to the United Nations Innovation Network or the ENHANCE Network at an international level. It also offers participatory procedures and processes as well as education programs for citizens such as the Festival of Sustainable Action or the Sustainability as Challenge and Opportunity for Society course. The course was developed by the RRI Hub together with representatives from the FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences and the Catholic University of Applied Sciences in Aachen as part of the Lehren professional program by the German Ministry of Education and Research for students from all three universities.

Since 2020, the City of Aachen has been part of the national network “Engagierte Stadt” (Committed City). Based on the question of “what constitutes a good life and how do we shape it together as a collective”, the RRI Hub and various regional partners want to show the potential of a diverse and engaged urban society. Responses will be developed based on a cooperative and creative approach, and regional structures sustainably consolidated. As an “Engagierte Stadt”, communities of responsibility made up of bodies from civil society, politics, administration, science, and the economy are accompanied on their journey toward increased collaborations for local engagement and participation, and support is also provided for the nationwide exchange of information and knowledge transfer.

Externes Video
Sie haben Cookies von Youtube abgelehnt, deshalb kann dieses Video nicht angezeigt werden.
Cookie-Banner erneut aufrufen

Inhalt des Videos:
65min video of the RWTH Knowledge Hub launch event "Why does science need to communicate?" The first image shows the RWTH logo before the people are shown in the following. The introduction starts with Professor Förster moderating the recorded discussion.

With a wide range of media, science reporting, and events, Department 3 – Press and Communications promotes target-group-oriented communication, providing people in the University environment with information as a basis for mutual exchange.

The research magazine turns the spotlight on one RWTH research topic per issue, allowing a very comprehensive yet compact presentation of the subject. A particular feature of the magazine is that the authors presenting their specific topic are RWTH researchers. RWTH THEMEN usually comes out once per semester.
In the 1/2020 issue on Plastic and the Environment (PDF), numerous scientists explained their research into solutions designed to reduce the release of plastics into the environment as well as the environmental risks caused by plastics.

For many years now, the RWTHextern Citizens’ Forum has been informing residents in the local area about RWTH’s activities. The aim is to provide as comprehensive an insight into the University as possible, setting out initiatives from the areas of research, teaching, and academic life in an understandable and entertaining way that is geared towards specific target groups.
In this way, the Citizens’ Forum plays an important intermediary role between the University and the local area.

This can be seen in the Uni at City Hall series of courses jointly offered by RWTH and the City of Aachen, for example, where experts discuss topics such as the various aspects of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing discovered and further researched by microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier. These discussions showed how RWTH consciously engages in public discourse about opportunities, risks, potential, and limits.

The annual Science Night is also aimed at all generations, and involves educating people about science in a way that makes it both comprehensible and tangible. This is accompanied by insights into the art scene and the musical and cultural life at RWTH as well as a big Science Slam.

Sustainability was already a prominent topic in all aspects right back when the first ideas were being discussed for the development of formats for RWTH’s 150th anniversary celebrations for example, suggestions such as a firework display were ruled out for precisely these reasons. Sustainability was also reflected in many areas of the celebration – right through to the choice of the merchandising products.
The central anniversary event “Lernen. Forschen. Machen. The Show”, which was intended to be held in person, yet had to be adapted into a movie format due to the Covid pandemic, provided insights into the University as well as current research. All the scientific projects can be summarized under the umbrella term of sustainability in general and carbon prevention to be more specific – as can be seen in the freely accessible movie (see above).

Externes Video
Sie haben Cookies von Youtube abgelehnt, deshalb kann dieses Video nicht angezeigt werden.
Cookie-Banner erneut aufrufen

Inhalt des Videos:
The 61-minute video begins with a picture summary of the following contributions. In the 27th se-cond the title of the video "Lernen. Research. Doing. The Show." Faded in. Shary Reeves and Ralph Caspers then present the various contributions from RWTH.

The RWTHtransparent event is the Rectorate’s public annual review that is held at the end of January each year and is accompanied by an exhibition. It presents the highlights of the previous year at the University both overall and from the perspective of the individual vice-rectors. Prizes such as the Teaching Award, the Brigitte Gilles Prize, and the Innovation Award are also presented at the event.

The topic of sustainability was in the spotlight for the 2019 Innovation Award, for example, with the event focusing on a model by RWTH’s chemical engineering department – Aachener Verfahrenstechnik – that showed the energy generation and utilization of the future. The playful aspect – the model was made of Lego – meant all visitors, regardless of their knowledge of this topic, could easily grasp it.


Example Projects