Founding | Teaching | Didactics | Degrees | Research | Uniqueness | Region
The Founding: Innovation und Tradition
To found a university – a private one on top – is probably one of the greatest and most meaningful adventures of our times. This is how we – the students, administrative staff, academics and sponsors – see it and all of us are aware of the special responsibility that we have taken on since 2003. We gladly take this responsibility seriously!
For in the summer semester of 2003, Zeppelin University gained state recognition as a university in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Thus, the starting point for an innovative founding directly on Lake Constance with a view towards the Alps was designated – with a programmatic eponym: Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin.
Graf Zeppelin was a manager at the end of the 19th century the likes of whom cannot be described in textbooks and who, for exactly this reason, can function as a role model for a university: committed to innovation, operated internationally and rooted in the Lake Constance area, visionary and strong-minded. In short: Someone who made the improbable probable because that is what he wanted. The worldwide fascination with airships is ultimately a fascination with willpower.
In accordance with tradition, these two attributes stand for the founding impetus of Zeppelin University: On the one hand, to make the improbable probable and on the other to learn to think in terms of ambitions and their realization.
The teaching goal: a new management generation in and bridging business, culture and politics.
Our conviction, and one of the motives for the founding of Zeppelin University, is that we need a new generation of management which is able to deal with the future challenges associated with a globalizing knowledge society. This new generation of management – whether in business, culture and media, or in politics and governance – must, in our opinion, be capable of learning to deal with all of those difficulties and inconsistencies that are systematically associated with this transformation– responsibly, sustainably and obligated to future generations.
The consistently demanded responsibility of society as a whole can only be learned and lived if a sense for and understanding of the cultures, the connected and the incomprehensible in the surroundings of one’s own personal sphere are developed. This is exactly what Zeppelin University wants to achieve through its multidisciplinary approach.
Museum directors who have skills in political decision-making can implement business controlling in terms of their visitors. People in positions of responsibility in public administration who have the cultural and communicative competencies to be able to carefully implement politically decided-upon modernization strategies onsite with the aid of business instruments. And economists who, based on their skills in cultural and communicative intervention, are able to connect the achievement of goals and the safeguarding of jobs, especially in regulated sectors, with questions related to financial theory and legal issues, e.g. with regard to mergers and restructuring as well as international strategic alliances.
Graf von Zeppelin was – as a manager – one of the most important pioneers of aviation. Zeppelin University is, therefore, committed to the education of pioneers who can make the improbable probable in business, culture and politics.
The didactics: Development of passions instead of the conveyance of conventional subject canons.
Zeppelin University is committed to conveying individualized, interdisciplinary and international management qualifications in the education of students and practitioners. There are no lectures, but dialogue, “read before” and mutual "reflection", no office hours, but qualified coaching instead.
Zeppelin University is a stimulating arena for students and academics. An arena that is geared to individual interests and abilities rather than to subject canons. An arena where the virus of thinking starts and the aspirations can be learned.
The degree programs and the possibilities: Viability through standards and flexibility
Zeppelin University focuses on development, and offers all academic degrees ranging from Bachelor’s and Master’s to Doctoral and Post-doctoral degrees. At the time of its founding, ZU had already implemented the so-called “Bologna Declaration,” a standard set in 2005 for all European universities. In connection with that, a healthy competition among universities and quality management has developed through the necessity for the accreditation of study programs. From the very beginning, all of the university’s study programs have been quality-assured by accreditation.
In 2010 and 2011, ZU was the first German university to conduct a separate accreditation procedure with the German Council of Science and Humanities for the right to award doctorates. As the first private university in Germany, ZU has been in the process of system accreditation since 2011 and is therefore at the highest level of accreditation. This process will continue over the next two years. In addition, the study programs at ZU were given top marks in the current rankings.
And the future prospects? One of the discrepancies of our time is the employment market itself: A study by the OECD as well as investigations by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. predicted a future so-called “management gap,” particularly with executive positions, decision-makers and entrepreneurs in Germany. The topic of succession in German mid-sized and family businesses also has the same relevance. The cause is the demographic change and low interest in education from an international perspective.
The goal of research: Surprising solutions for surprising problems
Since its founding, Zeppelin University has established research in socially relevant issues as one of its goals. Research at Zeppelin University entails "on-site observation" – in companies, museums, publishing houses, theaters, city halls and ministries – and poses questions to which answers can be found only in cooperation with science and its institutions. As a rule, these solutions are surprising. The "question", as the guiding principle of scientific curiosity, redraws boundaries between research, consultancy and teaching. Why should students not be able to do research? Why is consultancy not an appropriate approach to the investigation of phenomena for which there is currently no primary data?
Research results, on the other hand, are to be processed in different ways for the "scientific community", as well as the interested general public. In addition to an internationally competitive science, it is necessary that scientific language be translated into vernacular to make it generally understood. Relevance is the key!
The uniqueness: Real problems are undisciplined – like us!
In looking at the patterns of social problems it quickly becomes apparent that they do not conform to the patterns of scientific disciplines. Why should they? When thinking out of the box, this is reason enough for us to see our three departments as resources for multidisciplinary teaching and research and not in terms of disciplined boundaries. Therefore, Zeppelin University clearly sees itself as a university between business, culture, media and politics.
Innovations – we assume – originate at the borders between disciplines. Innovations – we further assume – originate as a result of straightforwardness, presence and networking.
The positioning of Zeppelin University as a university with three connected departments is unique in Germany! In comparison to narrowly-focused institutions with one faculty only – like business-, media- or law schools – on the one hand, and large universities with many unconnected departments on the other.
The location: Global networking and roots in the region
Maybe Zeppelin University is the only university with an entire campus on the beach. A beach located in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, in an area that is excellently prepared for the active development of the "competition of the regions". The Lake Constance region is not
only a scenic area and attractive for sports, but is also especially noted for its strong economy and innovative strength, and it is a leading economic region in Europe, according to the results of various studies: low unemployment, healthy medium-size businesses, intact local communities and a variety of future-oriented industries which characterize the region. The region links Switzerland, Austria and Germany in a fascinating mix of cultures.
As an institution, Zeppelin University will integrate itself in a "regional cluster" in which knowledge is shared, talent is fostered and in which the interconnectedness of as yet unconnected people, institutions and ideas becomes possible. The region wants this university! The university wants this region!
This rootedness in the region and the more than a century old tradition of the Zeppelin are also the reason for the internationalization which has been firmly pursued from the beginning: Therefore, institutional partnerships with universities on almost all continents have been agreed upon, be it Asia, the USA, Latin America or Eastern Europe and Russia.
Funding: Solidarity by privately assuming responsibility
Zeppelin University is one of the first private endowment universities in Germany, which gives it the highest possible autonomy and self-determination. Due to long-term advance financing by the main patrons and an additional guarantee to the state of Baden-Württemberg, ZU does not have to make use of any state funding.
The privatization of the educational sector is viewed as being one of the social mega-trends of the next 20 years, according to future researcher Matthias Horx. Germany has a significant deficit to overcome compared to all other OECD countries in terms of private educational sponsorships – not so much with the state under-funded early childhood educational opportunities such as grade school, but with higher education institutions. The typical German view that “education” is a public asset and therefore a responsibility of the state doesn’t specify the educational phases – early childhood education through education for senior citizens. Increasingly, more companies and private citizens see it as their social responsibility to make a contribution towards the creation of innovative, performance-oriented and socially responsible educational institutions.
The same applies to the founding shareholders of Zeppelin University: the Zeppelin Foundation as well as its two foundation-owned businesses, ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Zeppelin GmbH.
They have taken over a long-term pre-financing plan towards the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Arts, as well as deficiency guarantees for the company and essentially for all students and employees. A large number of more than 600 large and mid-sized companies, science-promoting foundations as well as private citizens, sponsor or make contributions to the non-profit institution of Zeppelin University gGmbH. In addition, the tuition fees also contribute to the overall financing. In this way, the university founding could be solely privately financed, without having to further burden public state and federal budgets. Due to the existing rolling financing agreements and the rendered deficiency guarantee, the university is always financed for at least 8 years in advance. This financing is done by the ZU|Foundation, a sponsor of Zeppelin University. The ZU|Foundation bundles university financing and will continue to expand its own foundation capital over the next decades, from which the revenue for sustainable university financing can be drawn.
Education of the future & the future of education
For this reason, Zeppelin University is committed to the "education of the future", and hopes to make a small contribution through its work. We are happy that president Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler, in addition to numerous company boards of directors, entrepreneurs, creative artists, representatives of the media and politicians, supports the development of this remarkable university as he writes us in a letter in which he refers to his speech before the federal assembly on May 23, 2004: „What I have read about the approach of this university shows in effect the spirit that we need in Germany."
Then, carry on! On the "Beach of Good Hope"!*
Your Stephan A. Jansen
(* Titles of the contributions from Brandeins 01/2005 and ZDF 2005)
Prof Dr rer pol Stephan A. Jansen
President | Managing Director
Zeppelin University ranks among the leading group with all their study programs in the CHE University Ranking