Goethe University's Third Mission mandate – the pursuit of science and knowledge with and for society – arises directly from its founding history as Stiftungsuniversität in 1914: a university founded by Frankfurt citizens for Frankfurt citizens. Joint activities and projects by Goethe University academics with partners and institutions from all areas of society strengthens the intensive connection to society that science inherently possesses. By returning to its status of Stiftungsuniversität (university foundation under public law) in 2008, Goethe University renewed its responsibility to interact with the general public openly and make this interaction fruitful within the framework of collaborative projects. Rooted within the city of Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region, Goethe University is ideally situated for societal collaborations: it is located in one of the most economically successful regions in Europe, which also possesses a high concentration of cultural institutions, as well as political institutions up through the European level.
Goethe University and its scientists carry out a great variety of Third Mission activities. The Third Mission commitment draws on research and teaching and is stimulated in turn by non-scientific networks, acting thereby both complementary and synergistically with these two missions. The Third Mission is carried out in collaboration with concrete partners or directed toward the public. It often takes up social, technological and political issues to seek cooperative, interdisciplinary solutions. The university sets the agenda in the name of independence and freedom, and gathers ideas, knowledge and issue awareness. As Stiftungsuniversität, it also generates private funds that can be applied flexibly toward future-oriented areas of research.