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The Senate is the central scientific body of the DFG. It deliberates and resolves, within the principles adopted by the General Assembly, on all major matters of DFG, unless they are reserved for the Joint Committee. The Senate particular decides which review boards are to be formed and how they are to be structured.

It consists of 39 members. 36 members are elected for three years by the General Assembly based on a rolling system. Re-election for a second term is possible. Researchers who work at institutions of higher education or other research institutions are eligible for election. The ex officio members of the Senate are the respective President of the German Rectors’ Conference, the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities and the Max Planck Society. The Senate may invite guests to its meetings on a permanent or occasional basis.

Committees of the Senate

The Senate Committees for Collaborative Research Centres and 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 Ad hoc Review Committee on Membership Applications is a working committee of the Senate that prepares the decisions of the Senate.

Senate Commissions

The Senate Commissions support the DFG with policy advice by, for instance, preparing statements on research-related issues that are relevant to society according to purely scientific standards. Furthermore, they are an important part of academic self-governance as they, for example, address questions with special coordination requirements for specific research disciplines.

The Senate Commissions are divided into two categories:

Permanent Senate Commissions

The Senate can establish Permanent Senate Commissions whose mandate extends over the longer term:

  • for important social, political or economic fields with a long-term perspective, in which new scientific findings must be processed continually and across disciplines to serve as the basis for government action, both nationally and internationally, or
  • for politically and socially controversial, rapidly developing scientific topics in which a recurring need for legislation with considerable relevance to research is anticipated.

When establishing a Permanent Senate Commission, the need for the results of the Commission’s work must be substantiated and its establishment on a permanent basis must be justified.

Senate Commissions

The Senate can appoint Senate Commissions in areas with a strong need for research, coordination and multi-layered structuring with the mandate to develop interdisciplinary approaches for complex coordination, improvement of the research infrastructure and establishment of structures conducive to research, where necessary in cooperation with other national and international organisations.

Senate Commissions of the DFG

Contact persons for the individual Senate Commissions and Committees can be found on the pages of the respective statutory bodies.

The DFG Senate has adopted rules for handling conflicts of interest in the advisory activities of Senate Commissions. These rules serve as the basis for deliberations by the Senate Commissions.