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One thing that became apparent was various group-specific demands – for instance the fact that those active in the academic domain are interested in securing optimal conditions for research and teaching or that the participants from the Gender Mainstreaming Work Group find equal opportunity and diversity particularly important.

Besides these findings, it was above all two tendencies that became apparent from the results of the Innovation Workshop:

  1. A conception of the university as an institution that can be described with the values free, open, creative, and innovative.
  2. A conception of the university as a place of learning and working at which the following three topics are perceived as being particularly important and, at the same time, as showing room for optimization: relations between students, faculty, and staff; involvement in decisions and processes; and opportunities for communication as well as the ability to communicate.

When one examines the results of the work groups in detail, the following tendencies emerge:

What makes up the university?

The sentence “For me, a university is...” was completed ninety times. The most common answer was that the university is a place of knowledge, of learning and teaching, and of freedom for research and teaching. Pure research, the exchange of ideas between researchers and learners, and experimental and innovative thought were regarded by all of the work groups as being central functions of a university. The university is understood as a place where knowledge can be pursued for its own sake, but also a place that does not close its eyes to societal demands and to its responsibility to society. One participant summed this notion up by referring to the university as a “think tank for society.”

What values and characteristics do I associate with the idea of a university?

Values and characteristics from two central domains were especially prominent in the work groups as well as in the overall analysis.

The first domain has to do with communication at the university. The values democratic, communicative, integrative, collegial, equal, integrating, cooperative, humane, staff-friendly, social, and supportive were named especially often. Although the significance of the values for the individual participants could not be determined in this phase due to methodological considerations (the analysis of the next phase throws some light on this matter), the importance of communication in putting these values into practice is evident.

The second domain from which values were named especially often concerns the sustainability of the university and the necessary “creative genius” for achieving it. The values named most often here were ambitious, dynamic, adventurous, supportive, flexible, imaginative, innovative, inventive, motivated, realistic, open, creative, multifaceted, visionary, clear-sighted, versatile, and cosmopolitan.

What will I do to put these values into actual practice at the University of Freiburg?

The importance of and the desire for transparent communication processes again became apparent in all of the work groups in this phase, this time in connection with concrete ideas for action. Values emphasized by the Central Administration and Central Service Departments work groups, for example, included honest, open debates and a common search for constructive solutions to conflicts, cooperative behavior, teamwork, and transparent decisions as well as an environment characterized by mutual esteem and a cooperative leadership style.

The other groups also named understandable decisions and the transparency necessary for them, the ability to engage in a dialogue, and open communication as values it is especially important to put into practice in all domains.

The concrete measures named in connection with these values included the creation of a space for communication through regular employee meetings, the introduction of an electronic complaint box, closer cooperation between intersecting areas of responsibility, the expansion and strengthening of the area of human resources development, and more intensive and comprehensive advising for students and visiting scholars – on academic as well as financial matters. The groups also stressed the need to make use of new communication channels and forums to communicate with target groups outside of the university – for instance YouTube, StudiVZ, Web 2.0, blogs, and chats or newsletter pools for specific groups.