This course explores philosophical reflections on the university and the role of philosophy within that institution as put forward by German philosophers in the Prussian Berlin of the 19th century, while also providing a critical perspective on the subsequent history of the university through the 20th century until today. The University of Berlin was founded in 1809/10 following a series of philosophical university reform writings. Wilhelm von Humboldt in particular had the idea to create a new kind of university in which teaching and research would form a unity, in which science would be independent of political interests, and in which students would receive a universal education. Consequently, the University of Berlin became the paradigm of a new era of teaching and research. By reading key texts by Kant, Schelling, Fichte, von Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Marx, Heine, Schopenhauer, and Heidegger, we will trace how ideas relating to the structure and purpose of the university changed and were implemented in the course of the last two centuries, also in light of the most recent European university reform: the Bologna Process in 1999. Moreover, the course puts particular emphasis on the impact of philosophical ideas on politics, religion, and education, as well as on literature, visual arts, and architecture in Berlin past and present.
language requirements English B2, German A2
All reading materials are made available electronically via Moodle in both German and English. Instruction and discussion are in English, but German contributions are welcome.
You will find the detailed syllabus for this course on the Berlin Perspectives Website:
In order to participate, you have to register through the Berlin Perspectives online registration form:
Registration period: 15 September – 25 October 2020:
Seminar places are allocated to the students registered and present in the first session.
This seminar carries 5 ECTS.
Berlin Perspectives is an international and interdisciplinary course program for incoming international students to complement their regular studies at Humboldt-Universität. It is also open to regular HU students who may enroll as part of their elective course requirements (üWP). Courses are taught in English or in bilingual German-English formats.