skip to content

History of the institute

Early days of political science at Cologne


Shortly after the re-establishment of the university, the Faculty of Law takes over the Seminar of Politics from the Academy of Communal and Social Administration. With that, the University of Cologne creates the first professorial chair in politics at a German university. Its first director is Fritz Stier-Somlo.


The Seminar is dissolved by the Nazi regime. The collection of its library is given to the Institute of Journalism Studies.


The University decides to establish a chair of politics, which is claimed by both the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. Legal scholar Ernst von Hippel advocates for a Seminar of State Philosophy at the Faculty of Law, but he eventually abandons this plan for the benefit of the Seminar of State Philosophy and Legal Policy. The chair therefore goes to the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. Sir Ernest Barker and later Jan Juriaan Schokking and Michael Beresford Foster serve as visiting professors until the position is filled.


Heinrich Brüning, former chancellor of the Weimar Republic, becomes the first chairholder. The Seminar of Political Sciences is created (as of 1961: Seminar of Political Science). Brüning becomes its director. The seminar still exists today alongside the research institute/department. After his retirement in 1955, Brüning continues to hold the chair as a stand‑in.

The establishment of the research institute


UNESCO founds the Institute of Social Sciences in Cologne, supported by the university, the city, and the state. Led by Schokking, it fosters social sciences in Germany and facilitates international collaboration. The Institute's Statutes (1957) set the goal of creating a vibrant hub for international exchange, as expressed in Article II, Par. 1. Research focuses on empirical sociology, mainly on family and community sociology. In the late 1950s, political science, especially European politics, becomes part of the reserach agenda.


Today’s Research Institute of Political Science is created to take over from the Institute of Social Sciences, by decree of the Minister of Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia (1960). The buildings and the inventory of the former UNESCO institute are passed on to the research institute, as determined in the previous request for establishing the Institute (1960) by the Dean of the WiSo Faculty. In the following year, the term “and European Affairs” is added to its name, by another decree of the Ministry of Culture (1961). Prof Ferdinand Hermens, who had succeeded Brüning as the chairholder in 1959, becomes the institute’s first director.


An association for the advancement of the research institute is founded. Fritz Burgbacher, member of the Bundestag, becomes the first chairman; Fritz Schäfer, member of the Bundestag, his deputy. Both of them also serve as visiting or honorary professors, in addition to Carl-Christoph Schweitzer and Karl Newman.


An additional chair of political science is created, with Ulrich Matz as its first holder. Additional positions of academic councillor and professor were filled by Gerda Zellentin and by Arnd Morkel (for one term each) and, since 1971, by Peter Graf Kielmansegg.


Following the retirement of Hermens in 1971, Hans-Peter Schwarz is appointed his successor as the second director. When Karl Kaiser is appointed full professor in 1974 – a position that had been vacant so far – all positions are filled for the first time since the extension of the employment plan.


Karl Schmitt becomes successor to Prof Graf Kielmansegg, who had accepted an offer from the University of Mannheim in 1985.


Werner Link becomes successor to Prof Schwarz, who had accepted an offer from the University of Bonn in 1987.


Wolfgang Wessels becomes holder of the Jean Monnet Chair of European Politics. He succeeds Prof Schmitt, who had accepted an offer from the University of Jena in 1993.


Wolfgang Leidhold is appointed Professor of Political Theory and the History of Ideas. He succeeds Prof Karl Kaiser, who had accepted an offer from the University of Bonn in 1992.

The institute today


Thomas Jäger succeeds Prof Link as the holder of the Chair of International Relations and Foreign Policy.


André Kaiser is appointed Professor of Comparative Political Science as successor to Prof Matz.


Christine Trampusch is appointed Professor of International Comparative Political Economy and Economic Sociology, becoming the institute’s first female professor. The chair of Prof Kaiser and Prof Trampusch pool their resources to form the Cologne Center for Comparative Politics (CCCP). 


Following his retirement, Prof Wessels transforms his Jean Monnet Chair for European Politics into the Center for Turkey and EU Studies, which retains close ties to the institute. The Jean Monnet Chair of European Politics is succeeded by the Chair of European and Multilevel Politics. In January of 2017, Sven-Oliver Proksch is appointed to this chair, which is integrated into the CCCP. Already in December of 2016, Ingo Rohlfing had been appointed Professor of Methods of Comparative Political Research, which also becomes part of the CCCP.


Prof Leidhold becomes emeritus. Chitralekha Basu succeeds him, assuming the newly created Chair of Empirical Democratic Theory, and joins the CCCP.


Michael Bechtel joins the institute, the CCCP, the Econtribute cluster of excellence as Professor of Political Economy.

To top of page