Review of the year by IPU president Prof. Dr. Lilli Gast

"Creative, innovative solutions found in times of constraint". The year 2020 was strongly affected by the corona pandemic in university operations. But Lilli Gast also sees productive developments that have emerged from the restrictions.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends of the IPU,


now that the end of this particularly challenging year for IPU is coming to an end, it seems like a good time to take a look back at the last few months.

Undoubtedly, IPU’s successful re-accreditation by the German Council for Science and Humanities stands out as one of its most important events this year. We were granted a high university level for research and teaching, and received valuable suggestions for our successful future development, which we have already begun to address.

Our versatile BSc psychology program, which needed to be restructured according to the new psychotherapy regulations, has been successfully accredited, and it fulfills the requirements for the psychotherapist approbation after the corresponding master’s studies.

Strengthened by these successes, we were able to face the challenges that 2020 gave us not only as a society, but also as a university. The coronavirus pandemic has demanded considerable structural changes in all facets of the university, and has altered university life in noticeable – and sometimes fundamental – ways. The digital format affected administrative processes, university teaching, and academic government alike, and it is thanks to the efficiency and significant dedication of all university employees that they were able to run smoothly.

Even as early as the summer semester, thanks to the resourceful efforts by our IT department, we were able to convert almost all university operations into digital platforms, and the summer months were used in order to outfit the lecture halls with technology that will allow for diverse class and event formats. In this way, the restrictions have sometimes provided inspiration for developing new and innovative structures, like the recent digital Library Talk, for example, which most definitely will remain relevant even after the pandemic ends. The IPU student union (StuRa) has implemented the opportunities that this situation offers in an exemplary fashion and has organized a highly successful, international online lecture series in English ("Let’s Talk About Racism").

The key to making all these changes possible was the aspiration to maintain the usual high quality of our university operations. Even in this situation, the well-known, enduring team spirit from all IPU departments and groups was decisive in allowing for productive research, teaching, and studying. In order to not only effectively confront the conditions under which this happens, but also to reflect on them, a University Day was dedicated to the theme 'Pandemic Times at IPU – what is, what remains?' in December, where all groups at our university shared and reflected with each other with great openness and creativity.

Even in this year, we were able to welcome many new students. At the conclusion of this year, over 800 students originating from many countries are enrolled in five study programs at IPU.

We are very grateful for the growth of our English-language Master of Psychology program, in which many international students have enrolled – despite the pandemic and its restrictions.

We have also grown on a professorial level: Prof. Dr. Christiane Steinert (clinical psychology and psychotherapy) and Prof. Dr. Gavin Sullivan (social/political psychology) have joined the faculty and are already active in university teaching, research, and academic government.

The International Office has opened up many doors to the world for all IPU groups, created full scholarships for international students, made first-rate DAAD funding accessible, acquired new partner countries (among others: Sudan, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile) for academic exchanges on all levels, and secured us as members of the European Charta of Higher Education for another seven years.

Even IPU’s active research efforts – currently around 30 externally funded projects – prevailed in continuing to function despite the virus, even when some projects needed to find creative solutions in response to coronavirus-related restrictions.

I cannot neglect to mention the numerous new relationships we have formed with partner institutions within Germany as well as abroad. This is exemplified by our most recent cooperation with the Centre for Psychoanalytic Thought (OMP) within the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (IFIS PAN).

In November, Dr. Rainer Funk received the first Honorary Medal of the IPU for his merits as the driving force of the IPU Erich Fromm Study Center, funded by the Karl Schlecht Foundation, and for his life’s work.

Looking back on this year also requires us to acknowledge a loss and some partings. In June, Prof. Dr. Dr. Horst Kächele passed away. In him, we lost not only a pioneer of empirical psychoanalytical psychotherapy research, but also a colleague who was involved in the IPU since the beginning, and who utilized his international reputation with vigor and determination for the benefit of our university. In this way, the IPU is a part of his legacy.

Prof. Dr. Elfriede Löchel, Prof. Christiane Ludwig-Körner, and Prof. Michael Buchholz have entered retirement, but have by no means turned their backs on the IPU. Over many years, each of them enriched the IPU with their academic expertise, sustainably shaped the university, and have left traces, which will continue to be felt in the future. For this, we offer our heartfelt thanks.

In addition to our university operations, we founded a psychoanalytic training institute (WIPU), which will be accepting its first candidates for postgraduate training in autumn of next year. More information will be available on our website soon.

Next year, the IPU will also continue to pursue the goal of developing itself into a low-emission university. These efforts will be accompanied by relevant public events and academic courses as part of the extra-curricular studies, among others.

Considering that the IPU, as an academic institution, is also a part of the Berlin community, the student union has organized a blood drive at IPU on 13 January 2021 in cooperation with the German Red Cross. You are warmly invited to sign up as well.

Many events for next year are already in the concrete planning phases – an international Summer School “Ruptures and Utopia”, Conferences, Lectures, Library Talks, and many more. Corona will not force the question of “if”, but rather of “how” these events will take place. Until then, we invite you to partake in lectures, talks, podcasts, and videos on our YouTube channel and in our Audio Library.

I am indebted to all members of the scientific and non-scientific staff of the IPU for their extraordinary commitment in this special year. I thank the Vice-President of the IPU, Prof. Dr. Birgit Stürmer, and the Chancellor, Dr. Rainer Kleinholz, for their constructive and always trustful cooperation and, last but not least, I would like to thank the Stiftung zur Förderung der universitären Psychoanalyse and its Chairperson, Prof. Dr. Rohde-Dachser, to whom the IPU owes much, very much indeed.

I would like to thank you, the recipients of this newsletter, for your interest in the IPU, and I hope that we will soon be able to welcome you back to our university in person.

On behalf of the IPU, I wish you an enjoyable year’s end and a healthy and productive 2021