The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (German: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.; abbreviated MPG) is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of Germanresearch institutes publicly funded by the federal and the 16 state governments of Germany. It is named in honor of its former president, theoretical physicistMax Planck.
The 82 research institutes of the Max Planck Society (as 2013) conduct basic research in the interest of the general public in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities. They have a total staff of approximately 17,000 permanent employees, including 5,470 scientists, plus around 4,500 non-tenured scientists and guests. Their budget for 2013 was about €1.53 billion, with 80% from state and federal funds.
The Max Planck Institutes focus on excellence in research. The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation as a science & technology research organization, with 32 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists, and are generally regarded as the foremost basic research organization in Europe and the world. In 2006, the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings of non-university research institutions (based on international peer review by academics) placed the Max Planck Society as No.1 in the world for science research, and No.3 in technology research (behind AT&T Corporation and the Argonne National Laboratory in the United States).
The organisation was established in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, or Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG), a non-governmental research organisation named for the then German emperor. The KWG was one of the world's leading research organisations; its board of directors included scientists like Walther Bothe, Peter Debye, Albert Einstein, and Fritz Haber. In 1946, Otto Hahn assumed the position of President of KWG, and in 1948, the society was renamed the Max Planck Society (MPG) after its former President (1930–37) Max Planck, who died in 1947.
Entrance of the administrative headquarters of the Max Planck Society in Munich.
The Max Planck Society is formally an eingetragener Verein, a registered association with the institute directors as scientific members having equal voting rights. The society has its registered seat in Berlin, while the administrative headquarters are located in Munich. In 2002 the cell biologist Peter Gruss assumed the office of President of the MPG.
Funding is provided predominantly from federal and state sources, but also from research and license fees and donations. One of the larger donations from the Duke of Bavaria in 1967 was the castle Schloss Ringberg near Kreuth in Bavaria. The castle passed to the Max Planck Society after the death of the duke in 1973 and is now used for conferences.
Max Planck Institutes and Research Groups
The Max Planck Society consists of nearly 80 research institutes. In addition, the society funds a number of Max Planck Research Groups (MPRG) and International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS). The purpose of establishing independent research groups at various universities is to strengthen the required networking between universities and institutes of the Max Planck Society.
The research units are located all over Germany and in other European countries. The society established its first non-European centre, with an institute on the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University focusing on bioimaging.
The Max Planck Institutes operate independently from, though in close cooperation with, the universities, and focus on innovative research which does not fit into the university structure due to their interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary nature or which require resources that cannot be met by the state universities.
Internally, Max Planck Institutes are organized into research departments headed by directors such that each MPI has several directors, a position roughly comparable to anything from full professor to department head at a university.
Currently, the following institutes and research groups exist:
Together with the Association of Universities and other Education Institutions in Germany, the Max Planck Society established numerous International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) to promote junior scientists:
Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research, Cologne
International Max Planck Research School on Adapting Behavior in a Fundamentally Uncertain World (Uncertainty School), at the Max Planck Institutes for Economics, for Human Development, and/or Research on Collective Goods.
International Max Planck Research School for Advanced Materials, Stuttgart
International Max Planck Research School for Analysis, Design and Optimization in Chemical and Biochemical Process Engineering , Magdeburg
International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Bonn at the MPI for Radio Astronomy, formerly known as the International Max Planck Research School for Radio and Infrared Astronomy
International Max Planck Research School for the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy , Cologne
In 2004 there was a controversy regarding the employment of foreign workers. Allegedly, foreign PhD students were systematically granted worse contracts than Germans were. The case was brought to the European Civil Court by Andrea Raccanelli and is well documented on his website. The court ruled that the MPG must observe the principle of non-discrimination in relation to workers. Recent developments on the issue include an article in the German newspaper Der Spiegel denouncing unfair working conditions, the reply by the MPS supporting the working conditions offered to PhD students, and a complaint in Parliament by the German party Die Linke.
Alison Abbott: German science starts facing up to its historical amnesia, in: Nature Vol 403 (2000), S.474f. (article about the Commission for the history of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft under National Socialism)
Gretchen Vogel: Aufbau Ost: Max Planck's East German Experiment, in: Science Vol. 326, 6. November 2009 (about the new institutes in the eastern part of Germany)