The Senate is the statutory body of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) responsible for science policy. It attends to matters of general concern in research, promotes cooperation in research, advises government, parliaments and public authorities by issuing scientifically founded statements and promotes the interests of German research in relation to international science and the humanities.
The Senate of the DFG has 39 members from the scientific and academic communities. While the President of the German Rectors’ Conference, the President of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities and the President of the Max Planck Society are members of the Senate by right of office, the remaining 36 members are elected by the General Assembly for three-year terms. The Presidents of the Hermann von Helmholtz Society of German Research Centres and the Fraunhofer Society as well as the Chairman of the Research Council are permanent guests of the Senate.
To meet its mandate, the Senate may establish commissions and committees, whose members need not be members of the Senate.
Committees of the Senate
The Senate Committees for the Collaborative Research Centres and the Research Training Groups prepare the funding decisions of the two corresponding Grants Committees as subcommittees of the Joint Committee. In addition, they are responsible for the further development of these funding programmes and for their review and decision-making processes.
The Senate Committee on Strategic Planning and the Ad Hoc Senate Review Committee on Membership Applications are working committees of the Senate that prepare the decisions of the Senate.
Senate Committee on Collaborative Research Centres
Senate Committee on Research Training Groups
Senate Committee on Strategic Planning
Ad hoc Senate Committee
The Senate Commissions of the DFG support the statutory task of the DFG for providing policy advice by, in among other ways, preparing statements on research-related issues that are relevant to society according to pure scientific standards. Furthermore, they are an important part of scientific self-governance, as they, for example, handle questions with special coordination requirements for specific scientific disciplines.
In 2010 the Senate resolved to divide its commissions into two categories:
Permanent Senate Commissions: for important fields with long-term perspective in which new scientific findings must be processed across disciplines and on an ongoing basis or for rapidly developing scientific topics in which recurring legal regulation with considerable relevance to research is to be anticipated.
Senate Commissions established for a certain period of time (generally six years): these have the task of developing cross-discipline approaches for complex coordination, making improvements to the research infrastructure and for establishing structures necessary for research in areas with high demands for research-, coordination- and multilayered structuring.
The classification of the existing Senate Commissions into one category or the other is performed within the scope of the respective mandate extensions and has not yet been completed.
Contact persons for the individual Senate Commissions and Committees can be found on the pages of the respective statutory bodies.
Hinterzarten Circle on Cancer Research
A special case is the Hinterzarten Circle on Cancer Research, which serves as a permanent discussion forum in the manner of a Senate Commission.
The Selection Committee for the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize is responsible for choosing the recipients of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, which promotes early career researchers. The Selection Committee is not considered a Senate committee since its members are appointed jointly by the DFG Senate and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
The members of the Expert Commission of the Excellence Initiative are appointed by the DFG Senate. The Expert Commission, together with the Strategy Commission, which is appointed by the German Science Council's science commission, prepares the funding decision of the Grants Committee for the Excellence Initiative.