Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences
Great names from the past. The brothers Max Weber (1864-1920, front) and Alfred Weber (1868-1958, back) were both economists and sociologists with politological leanings. Max Weber is regarded as the founder of modern political science. The Heidelberg Institute of Economics is named after his brother.
The Faculty comprises three institutes, each representing a different subject: the Institute of Political Science (German), the Institute of Sociology (German) and the Alfred Weber Institute of Economics, to which the Research Centre for Environmental Economics also belongs. In addition, there is a close association with the South Asia Institute, to which four professors of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences are affiliated.
In economics the main concern is with institutional economics, while the other two disciplines concentrate primarily on the historical and comparative analysis of institutions. In addition, each discipline has research and teaching preferences of its own, linking up to varying degrees with traditions firmly established in Heidelberg.
The Institute of Sociology devotes itself to comparative institutional analysis from a cultural studies perspective, an approach that owes much to the influence of Max Weber. Of central interest here are the structure, legitimisation and decline of institutions, with special reference to sectoral, national and transnational constellations (notably Europeanisation). A prime concern is the welfare state, regarded from a comparative viewpoint.
The discussion of theory is a prominent factor throughout. Attached to the Institute is a research centre working on sections of the complete edition of the works of Max Weber under the auspices of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
Cosmopolitanism unbound. The international complexion of the student body is an invitation to intercultural dialogue, not only in the subjects studied.
Theory and empiricism
At the Alfred Weber Institute of Economics the central aspects of economics are covered in research and teaching, notably economic theory, economic policy (including empirical economic research) and public finance. Much of the research done here is devoted to the complex issues posed by government and the market, labour and human resources, money and finance, and developmental and environmental economics. Developmental economics profits from its close ties with the South Asia Institute, while a special research centre has been established for environmental economics.
Disputation. A doctoral candidate defending his dissertation before a board of examiners made up of at least four professors, three from his own field and one from another discipline. Though his performance is ultimately graded, the young academic is placed on an equal footing with his examiners.
The economists in Heidelberg are concerned to combine theoretical analysis at the micro- and macro-level with empirical research and to elaborate reasoned recommendations for political action on this basis. This endeavour has been highly successful, as evidenced by the Institute's advisory activities for international organisations like the OECD and the World Bank and for the so-called transformation countries in the Balkans and in Asia.