2022/23 winter semester welcome and information

Dear first-years, dear students,

Welcome to the 2022/23 winter semester at Goethe University! We are pleased that you have chosen our university as your place of study. Choosing where and what to study is one of the most pivotal decisions you make in life. For many, it comes with a change of location. Even if that does not apply to you, the choice of where and what to study always requires entering an entirely new world – one that is decidedly different from school. Where previously you had a predefined timetable, now it is mostly up to you to plan your studies and their content. At first, it can be quite challenging to decide independently on your interests as well as if and where you would like to think outside the box of your prioritized subjects.

In the first few weeks especially, this is all very exciting and mostly appealing. As one of Germany's largest and most research-intensive universities, here at Goethe University you have every opportunity to showcase your interests in a research-driven degree course. And, although it is now up to you to make many fundamental decisions, we offer a lot of assistance before and throughout your studies, enabling you to follow your chosen path in an informed and self-determined manner: starting with the university administration's counseling services and extending to tutorials as well as seminar offerings for personal development. So, don't be afraid to approach others and ask them for advice!

Let me say a few more words about Goethe University and Frankfurt: The bonds between the city and the university have been inseparable right from the start. Founded in 1914 by citizens of Frankfurt, Goethe University was Germany's first “citizens' university" and from the outset one of the country's most innovative universities. We are proud of this tradition, which we maintain to this day. It gives our university its special character. Right from its very beginnings, the university's teaching and research profile focused on the pressing social issues of today and tomorrow. Since my taking on the role of university president in early 2021, we have been implementing this strategic aspiration under the motto: Researching “knowledge for development, sustainability and equity in the 21st century". As a citizens' university closely interlinked with society and its global challenges, we aspire to create future viability. Our new research profile with its six focal areas illustrates just how our research staff live up to this aspiration.

I wish all of you a successful start to your studies and the new semester. I hope you enjoy studying at Goethe University and that your time here will inspire you for the future.

Kind regards,

Enrico Schleiff
Goethe University President

Dear first-years, dear Goethe University students,

Regardless of whether you have just joined us or been a student at our university for some time already: I would like to wish all of you a successful and fulfilling start to your studies at Goethe University!

If you are joining us this year, the first few months of your studies will present you with an enormous wealth of new possibilities, opportunities, contacts and encounters. I am certain that this time of personal reorientation will be an intense experience.

If you have been a student at Goethe University for some time already, you probably can still recall the start of the last winter semester. The Corona pandemic had us firmly in its grip, and our prediction at the time that we would be implementing 75 to 80 percent onsite lectures for the entire winter semester was considered as very optimistic by many.

Although the Corona virus remains with us, its impact – as you all know – has weakened, allowing us once again to offer 100 percent onsite teaching in the coming winter semester. In other words, your studies will resemble those of pre-pandemic times. There currently are no political requirements that would necessitate any related restrictions. Of course, we need to be wary of the fact that incidence levels will rise again markedly during the cold season. To lower the risk of infection, we therefore ask that you continue to wear a facemask indoors at Goethe University. That being said, vaccinations especially have played a major role in reducing the risk of becoming seriously ill. In addition, during the past two years we as a university have acquired the necessary skills to respond quickly when needed and adapt the conditions for face-to-face studies as required.

The challenges posed by the energy shortage and the rise in energy prices as a result of the Ukraine war have also kept the university executive board busy in recent months. We have been hard at work drawing up plans to minimize the risk of a supply shortage for our university's community. The good news: Since Goethe University uses district heating to heat its buildings we are only indirectly dependent on gas. There will be no energy-related closures of university buildings needed for onsite teaching and research this winter semester.

At the same time, we are hoping to achieve 10-15 percent energy savings – in part by limiting the temperature of the rooms in which we carry out all sedentary activity to 19 degrees in the coming months. This is not only in line with our self-understanding as a university that acts sustainably – as evinced by the numerous projects initiated over the years to lower our energy consumption. At the same time, the university must also keep a close watch on counteracting the extreme rise in energy costs – much in the same manner as we as private individuals do at home. At the end of this video, we have put together a few links offering support to students during the ongoing energy crisis.

One last thing: We have all heard the argument that the present crises are driving an ever larger wedge into our society. As Goethe University, we believe in unity through diversity, and not in working against each other. That is why I would like to invite you to actively join the Goethe community. The student councils are happy to welcome new members, and we have a wide variety of student initiatives to offer. With that in mind, I hope you will use your studies to make the university an – even – better place and would like once again to wish you all the best for the start of the 2022/23 winter semester!

Video on YouTube (in German)