Changing perspectives.

The transdisciplinary [Q] STUDIES programme complements the academic programmes at HafenCity University and relates three areas of competency: science and engineering, humanities and social sciences, as well as architecture and design. [Q]STUDIES offers opportunities for the experimentation with new, cross-disciplinary methods and approaches.


[Q]STUDIES is an important part of HCU’s educational concept and mandatory in all academic programmes on offer. [Q]STUDIES aims to reflect on different ways of thinking, exploring, and perceiving.

[Q]STUDIES provides a place, in which students from HCU’s different degree courses come together, exchange ideas, and share experiences.

In [Q]STUDIES, we encourage openness towards other viewpoints and approaches, as well as the critical analysis of conventional perspectives and methods. We aim to foster innovative approaches to problem-solving by drawing on knowledges and methods from different fields, such as science, engineering, and art.



Die [Q] STUDIES sind ein wichtiger didaktischer Baustein im Ausbildungskonzept der HCU und obligatorischer Bestandteil aller angebotenen Studiengänge. Über alle Studienstufen hinweg vermitteln und reflektieren die [Q] STUDIES unterschiedliche Formen des Denkens, des handlungsorientierten Wissens und der Wahrnehmung. Sie bieten einen Ort und transdisziplinären Möglichkeitsraum, an dem die verschiedenen Studiengänge der HCU zusammenkommen und sich austauschen. Sie ermöglichen damit integrierende Erfahrungen, an die sowohl in der Lehre als auch in der Forschung angeknüpft wird.

In den [Q] STUDIES sollen die Offenheit gegenüber anderen Denk- und Sichtweisen, die Hinterfragung traditioneller Denkmuster und die Fähigkeit zur Entwicklung innovativer Problemlösungsansätze gefördert werden. Technische, wissenschaftliche und künstlerische Forschungsmethoden und Darstellungsformen werden miteinander konfrontiert und systematisch verglichen. Dabei wird davon ausgegangen, dass unterschiedliche Perspektiven auch je unterschiedliche Erkenntnisse ermöglichen, die sich wechselseitig inspirieren und unkonventionelle Denk- und Herangehensweisen hervorbringen.

Eine komplexe Welt erfordert komplexe Fähigkeiten.

The challenges of our globalizing knowledge societies pose new challenges for our professional skills and social action.

We live in a complex world. The development and establishment of our knowledge-based societies is coupled with increasingly rapid transformations and complex challenges, which concern each of us. New economic and technological developments provide new opportunities but at the same time entail new risk potentials: we must deal with the challenges posed by globalisation, the climate change, environmental problems, technical accidents, social inequality, and ethnic conflicts. Successfully practicing a profession in such a society demands a wide range of competencies.

  • Working in the context of social transformation
    The multifaceted and complex problems that arise today due to the transformation of society cannot be overcome with specialised knowledge alone. In fact, the ability to classify specialist knowledge in a greater context and to think and communicate beyond the limits of the different disciplines is required.
  • Working in a world of inequality and scarce resources
    Today, professional activity takes place in a context that is characterised by social inequality and diminishing resources. This requires a high level of social and environmental responsibility.
  • Working in heterogeneous social contexts
    HCU graduates operate in complex situations, which are characterised by heterogeneity. A wide range of social institutions, regulations, technologies, actors and interest groups are involved in the planning of concepts and working in several projects, such as construction projects or cultural projects. Professional action in such an environment requires the ability to analyse the multifaceted nature of the respective context and to perceive it as a resource. Other perspectives, mindsets and methods should be recognised as such and perceived as further possibilities for communication and action.
  • Working in multi-disciplinary and multicultural teams
    Today, professional activities are frequently carried out in teams, which have different disciplinary and cultural backgrounds. This requires the ability to communicate on an interdisciplinary and intercultural level.
  • Working in a changing professional world
    Operating in a professional environment, which is characterised by constant change and complex transformations due to globalisation, technologisation, mediatisation and mobility, requires the ability to act quickly, flexibly and proactively in complex situations and contexts, as well as to develop and implement creative solutions. The increasing flexibility of the working environment also produces a wide range of professional careers that are characterised by changing areas of activity and tasks. The classical careers, in which people only work in the profession that they originally learnt, is no longer the rule today. Many graduates change their occupation in the course of their professional life. This requires openness towards other topics, perspectives and approaches.

[Q] STUDIES seeks to increase the students’ awareness for these challenges and strengthen their ability to solve problems creatively. By teaching them [Q] STUDIES’ key competencies, the students will be given the ability to act both innovatively and responsibly in a professional context.

Ein breites Fundament.

Participation in the programme of [Q] STUDIES prepares the students in the broadest sense for dealing with the cultural possibilities in social, political and economic contexts: with the possibilities of methodical training, intellectual flexibility, communicative intelligence and embodied knowledge.

[Q] STUDIES encourages the teaching and acquisition of the following core competencies:

In addition to orientational knowledge, which is taught through thematic perspectives and insights into the different topics, the [Q] STUDIES programme provides a space for practising analytical skills. The ability to analyse and evaluate, as well as aptitude in reasoning, discourse and communication are core competencies that will enable students and graduates to express their opinions and exchange information in an academic and professional environment.

Establishing relationships as an intellectual competency

In teaching and research, [Q] STUDIES sets the task of relating different perspectives to one another and provides input for the development of reflexive, creative and communicative processes. It is about “establishing relationships” between previously separate disciplines, which above all consists of viewing aspects in relation to one another and discovering their multifaceted connections. This “thinking in terms of relationships” means very different kinds of relationships: e.g. functional and emotional, logistic, aesthetic or artistic.

Productive thought in the sense of the establishment of new relationships and the creation of innovative solutions becomes a decisive intellectual competency. Diversity of thought and the art of asking the right questions should therefore be perceived as essential competencies with regard to the increasing complexity of current social problem definitions. Their analysis and the development of respective approaches to problem-solving does not occur only as a result of specialist knowledge but also as a result of the incorporation of insights gained outside of the students’ discipline and through a wide range of methods, as well as a tolerance towards and acceptance of other (knowledge) cultures.

Cultural competencies: transdisciplinary and intercultural communication

The ability of communicating between and thinking beyond the boundaries of different disciplines and cultures is an important competency of professional activity.

Reflection competencies: scientific analysis and reflection

Interdisciplinary thinking and acting

Graduates must learn to adapt to new situations, which are complex and not foreseeable and to develop methods for dealing with other disciplinary cultures, bodies of knowledge and “non-knowledge”. They must be capable of contributing their specialist knowledge under different conditions in constantly changing contexts and must be able to communicate beyond the constraints of their discipline. The future work profile of the graduates must contain both aspects: professional knowledge in highly-specialised individual sciences and the ability to reflect on and create links between these.

Through the encounter between students from different cultural backgrounds, [Q] STUDIES represent a place in which transdisciplinary and intercultural understanding is made possible and being practised.

Perception and design competencies: creative and innovative design

In the [Q] STUDIES programme, great importance is placed on competencies that enable a creative and innovative approach and solution to problems. On the one hand, experimental-practical design competencies are promoted while on the other hand the change of perspective represents a core technique for training perception and creativity. By changing their perspective in a topic-based or methodological sense, the aim is for students to learn to reflect on and critically analyse the thought patterns in their discipline and to experiment with new ways of thinking and approaches. To “extensively work on something unfamiliar” – whether it be thematic, methodological or cultural – should promote both a flexible way of thinking and an understanding for “the other”, as well as an extension of the intellectual repertoire with view to alternative approaches and problem solving.

Through a multifaceted training of the perceptive abilities and the ability to express and present, the visual, auditory and sensual ways of perceiving and the sensual powers of judgement should be strengthened.

[Q] STUDIES presumes that knowledge is not purely cognitive but is based on experience and also has a physical dimension (embodied knowledge). This aspect is of special importance in the [Q] STUDIES programme.

The ability to act: proactive and responsible action

In today’s working world, the ability to act proactively and responsibly is a core competency. Training a flexible approach as well as analytical skills in [Q] STUDIES promotes the ability to anticipate developments and to respond to them quickly and adequately. Responsible action, which includes the ability to see facts in a social context and to examine their ethical implications, enables the students to work later in their professions in a way that shows responsibility towards people and their environment. In the Q-lectures, this social and environmental responsibility is a topic that is emphasised and practiced accordingly.


Fields of study

A good question is the best answer.

The art of asking is a science in itself. There are rarely answers to the question about the different types of impact generated by this skill. The programme on offer for [Q] STUDIES examines the nature of the art of questioning and applies this to all the degree courses offered at HCU.



In the [Q] STUDIES programme, students are taught by professors and lecturers from very different HCU disciplines, as well as by a large number of visiting lecturers. A professorship for science and technology studies, introduced especially for the [Q] STUDIES, has been set up for the winter semester 2010/11 and creates a key focus in the study programme, taking into account the current debates on science, technology and society. Through the inclusion of internal and external teaching staff, the programme constantly provides new input and enables links to be established to current research projects.

Due to the transdisciplinary structure of the [Q] STUDIES programme, the teaching and learning content extends beyond the usual specifications of the disciplines, allowing for a flexible approach to be taken to the current trends in society. The structure of the courses ranges from seminars with a theoretical emphasis and opportunities to train the perception and creativity through to practical project work such as the development of course concepts and their implementation. In the process, collaborations will be established with academic institutions and in some instances also with external cultural institutions.