How can I get a professor job

science: We cannot answer for that

Research, teaching, publishing under increasing pressure - seven scientists are fighting back. And Elisabeth von Thadden asks how it could have come to this.


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They are crumbling and tired and angry and say: I can hardly answer for that - to research like this, to teach like that, to publish like this. For many scientists, their work has become quite unbearable. But why?

Not long ago, in the discussions about whether science is responsible, the first thing that would have been the ethical questionable nature of research topics: problematic animal experiments, the development of sensitive energy sources, cross-border interventions in the building blocks of life, and manipulation and blindness to the consequences of research.

But the old Kantian question of what is morally permissible is now mostly masked by another one, tinged with a more Hegelian color, which means: How do the academic institutions endanger what they are supposed to produce, namely science? What are they doing with their research funding instruments and competitive conditions? And what do you do with the scientists?

Science as a profession has become exhausting hardship in Germany. Very few say this in public, but on the following pages of our focus the researchers say what drives them.

What went wrong?

This can easily be told using the story of a 28-year-old sociologist who is supposed to be called Sophie here because she doesn't want to read her name in the newspaper, after all, she doesn't want to slam the doors to employers. Sophie did everything right, and with great success. Top high school diploma, scholarships, international elite universities and top grades, topical issues, talented for teaching. And yet she is leaving the university now. Because she no longer wants to endure the madness.

In the conversation, she simply does the math, because numbers get to the point: If a young lecturer looks after around 100 students and talks to each of them about a term paper or study for only half an hour in her office hours, that's 50 hours alone Conversation per semester. The lecturer would have to have read these term papers, exams, bachelor's and master's theses beforehand, and she also takes around 300 hours. She wants to prepare the seminars by reading, every session, at least she does - well, hardly countable hours. In addition, she should publish continuously, do her habilitation, and give lectures at congresses. Until she is over 40, the time when, with a lot of luck, you will finally be a professor in Germany. Almost too late for children.

This workload is made difficult to bear, says Sophie, because science loses its essence: its beauty; their substance; its importance for society, which ultimately gives the money for it. The competitive pressure ruins the community. Raising money ruins the incorruptibility. And the existential worries of a permanent precariat, because almost no permanent positions are created beyond the professorships, bind too much energies that are then missing in research and teaching.



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So Sophie is now ditching science. But how did it come about that a brilliant young scientist like her turned her back on the university?

The story begins as a fairy tale, as a viscous novel it continues, as a farce it ends: Once upon a time there was a world-famous institution where the best in the world took measures, that was the German university. One of her greatest strengths was freedom. Then, since the 1970s, it became deserted with its long-lived life lie that it could function unchanged for millions of students in a global scientific landscape. So it was thoroughly reformed around the year 2000.

Unfortunately, some things went wrong, as if the cunning and irony of history had themselves laid hands. The university was supposed to catch up with international standards, but it was almost entangled in the safety nets of the German provincial mentality. Now it threatens to freeze again in a bizarre mixture of German and Anglo-Saxon weaknesses, bureaucratic control, economic efficiency and wrong performance thinking. The strength became weaker, and the weaknesses became nothing but unholy alliances: the great freedom had turned into the most efficient application tactics and administered educational service.