Cluster Concept

The Cluster of Excellence Future Ocean was initiated in 2006 during the first phase of the Excellence Initiative and has already revolutionized the structure and direction of university collaboration with its partners, both within and beyond Marine Sciences. The Cluster is a network of researchers from seven faculties of the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel (CAU), two research institutes, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (GEOMAR) and Leibniz Institute for the World Economy (IfW), as well as the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design (MKHS).


Building on the success of the initial Cluster idea, much can be accomplished over the next six years and beyond. This is evident from the focus of the present proposal, in which the newly established ‘Kiel Academy of Interdisciplinary Marine Sciences’ (KAIMS) plays a pivotal role as the enduring sustainable element supporting Kiel Marine Sciences. KAIMS builds on the legacy of the first phase successes by combining the Marine Science research focus of the CAU with the marine expertise of GEO MAR and the expertise of the other associated partners into a fully-integrated structure (see Fig.). The development of a more permanent governance structure across the participating Faculties at the CAU and a bridging portal to the non-university research institutions in the Cluster facilitates this integration. It also presents a huge challenge to the University in seeking to establish a permanent and self-governing scientifically-oriented multidisciplinary structure across the traditional disciplinary boundaries of Faculties and Institutes.

The Academy will host major interdisciplinary Marine Sciences projects in Kiel, the Future Ocean Cluster being the most prominent with its more than 200 experts from core marine disciplines (physical, biological, and chemical oceanography, as well as paleontology and geology), but also from chemistry, biology, applied mathematics, medicine, international law, resource economics, political science and environmental philosophy and ethics.

KAIMS will provide the academic framework for inspiring scientific discussions internally and externally, enhance the international reputation and attractiveness of Kiel Marine Sciences and Education, and serve as the driver for capacity building, public outreach, and knowledge transfer. KA IMS will specifically target enhancing the identification of individual scientists with the rapidly evolving multidisciplinary research field of Marine Sciences and should act as the seed and think-tank for the development of large interdisciplinary, innovative research projects.

The Cluster’s science support infrastructure which facilitates interdisciplinary research by providing easy access to research platforms, knowledge transfer and public outreach as well as promoting integrated marine education, with special emphasis on career support for young talents and gender equality, will become an integral part of KAIMS.

The Cluster will thus continue to invest the major part of its funding in certain measures to foster this concept which from the beginning has been built upon

  • research topics identified through national and international discourse,
  • the education and promotion of young researchers, and
  • the intense and complex dialogue with society on Future Ocean issues..