Review of the Year by IPU President Jan-Hendrik Olbertz

As the year comes to a close, Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz looks back on 2021, which brought progress to the IPU, but was also still under the influence of the global pandemic. Olbertz’s “greatest wish for the new year is to get back to an 'analog' academic normalcy.” 

Dear students, dear colleagues, dear partners and friends of the IPU, 

in looking back on the 2021 year, which is coming to an end, I can really only provide a review for the last seven months, as I only joined the IPU and its university management on 1 June. But in the weeks before that, I was welcomed by a smooth, gentle transition, which my predecessor Lilli Gast made possible in such a collegial and caring way. That is why this review also begins with a heartfelt thank you to her. We bid her a fond farewell on 7 October in conjunction with my inauguration.  

This date was surrounded by some challenging months. The pandemic, in particular, has proved to be a challenge. Everyone felt relief when we were able to return to in-person operations, albeit with great caution. This university is a vibrant community that revolves around science and academics, practices them, and communicates them. That is only possible to a limited extent in a digital mode, even though an online format has certainly opened up new possibilities for us. But my (and our) greatest wish for the new year is to get back to an “analog” academic normalcy. 

Despite all the restrictions, university life continued in a vital way throughout the year. In addition to teaching and advances in various research projects, academic life has been enriched by numerous academic events, of which I can only name a few here. They range from the International Summer School "Ruptures and Utopia" from 4 to 16 July, the Library Talks with Leon S. Brenner or the Leadership Dialogues on 9 and 10 September, the First International Research School in the framework of the STICS project ("Social Trauma in Changing Societies") with doctoral candidates from Bulgaria, Sudan, Turkey, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Erich Fromm Lecture with Prof. Dr. Roger Frie "Trauma and Silence: Erich Fromm, the Holocaust and Historical Responsibility" on 18 November. Two days later, the film Amalie (in memory of Horst Kächele) premiered. In addition, a new cycle of lecture series on psychoanalytic cultural studies commenced on 26 October, which we offer in cooperation with the Humboldt University, the Berlin Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (BiPP) and the Berlin Cultural Laboratory "Institute for Cultural Inquiry" (ICI). The series will be sponsored by the Friedrich Stiftung in Hannover for the next two years.  

We should also take stock of our impressive teaching accomplishments. Several study courses have been (re)accredited, most recently the MA Psychology with a focus on Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, which the Accreditation Council has confirmed until 30 September 2029 without any conditions. In addition, we are working hard to prepare the new master's program "Psychology focusing on Organisation". There is also news to report regarding our teaching staff. Towards the end of the year, we issued two calls for professorships: the W1 position for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Subject and Cultural Theory (with tenure track to W3) and the W3 position for Clinical Developmental Psychology. In the first case, negotiations are already underway with the first-place candidate; in the second, they will begin in early January. And the Board of Trustees has approved a new professorship for "Transformational Psychology and the World of Work", which will be advertised soon. 

This is also most welcome, as one of the most important concerns in this year has been to improve the profile of the IPU's research program. Three focal points have emerged here: Psychotherapy Research, Transformational Research, and Conceptual Research. The new doctoral regulations were also finalized, for which the doctoral committee deserves special thanks, and the doctoral college will start in the new year. For this, stable cooperative relationships are important – with great pleasure we have started a cooperation with the Hans Kilian and Lotte Köhler Center Bochum (KKC), from which researchers as well as students benefit by coordinating the respective programs and offers among each other and opening them up for alternating participation. No less important for the keyword "research" is the stronger integration of our university outpatient clinic, for example with the focus on psychodynamic group psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychosis psychotherapy and ADHD in adults. With good reason, we have been able to add new permanent appointments of therapists in the outpatient clinic.  

Our International Office has once again demonstrated enormous dynamism this year, initiating many projects and collaborations and recruiting numerous colleagues to work with us or contribute ideas. Recently, success stories came one after the other: We won the start-up funding from the Erasmus Mundus program (with 96 out of 100 points awarded!), received an acceptance to the PROMOS program line of the DAAD, and most recently we have learned that the new Summer School "The Future Now?!", under the direction of Gavin Sullivan, will receive funding (with grants amounting to 20,000 euros). In addition, the DAAD Prize was awarded to Mauricio Cordovez Cartwright on 9 December as part of STIBET I.  

All of this is regularly reflected in our website and monthly newsletter, which are managed by the Communications department. In the past few months, the Communications team has put in a lot of effort, on the one hand, with IT, in managing online and hybrid events, and on the other hand, making all our activities widely visible, to effectively communicate and network all of the IPU’s accomplishments. It is working intensively on refreshing our online presence, relaunched the popular podcast “50 Minutes”, produced new image films, and has been generating a monthly newsletter and column for some time.  Likewise, it gives regular reports on the exciting offers and topics of advanced education and training

However, such a wide range of activities would not be possible without the active support of the administrative staff, who are seldom in the spotlight, but who form the foundation of a culture of enablement. Just think of the complex issues involved in organizing study and examination procedures, the organization of advanced training and quality management, personnel administration and development, budget management and much more. These made it possible, for example, to celebrate our 10th anniversary in 2021 or to found our Diversity Working Group or expand into our new 91b location.  It was a pleasure for me to always be able to rely on the trusting cooperation with our employee representatives and our committed student representatives. 

On behalf of the university management, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all members of our university, the employees as well as the students, Mrs. Stürmer and Mr. Kleinholz, the members of our Foundation and Supervisory Board as well as the Academic Advisory Board, for their great commitment to the IPU in the past months. Looking ahead to the new year 2022, I am full of confidence that it will again hold a variety of challenges for us but will also bring fulfillment and joy in our work. 

I wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy, optimistic start to 2022! 

Jan-Hendrik Olbertz