University of Giessen

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The University of Gießen (Giessen), officially called Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen after its most famous member, the founder of modern agricultural chemistry and inventor of artificial fertilizer.

The University of Gießen was founded in 1607 as a Lutheran university in the city of Gießen in Hesse-Darmstadt because the all-Hessian Landesuniversität, the neighboring University of Marburg (Philipps-Universität Marburg) in Marburg, Hesse-Kassel, founded in 1527, had become Reformed (i.e., Calvinist). It was then called "Ludoviciana" and only renamed after World War II. Belonging to a very small and poor German state, Gießen was always a minor and poor German university, a "stepping-stone university" where professors had their very first chair but moved on as soon as they could (with the exception of the strong agricultural and veterinary fields). Its academic heyday was the mid-19th century.

After the different Hessian states were (re-)united in 1929, both universities became public universities of that German state. The University of Gießen now has almost 22,000 students and 8,500 employees. With its Fachhochschule, it makes Gießen the most student-dominated German city, although it feels much less like an "academical village" than the classical German universities of Göttingen, Tübingen, Heidelberg or Marburg.

Next to Liebig, famous Gießen professors included the theologian Adolf von Harnack, the lawyer Rudolf von Jhering, the economist and statistician Etienne Laspeyres, the physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, the gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka, the philologist and archaeologist Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker, and the orientalist Eberhard Schrader. It is indicative that all the most famous students of Gießen were locals, born in Hesse-Darmstadt. They include the German romantic dramatist and revolutionary Georg Büchner, the literary and political historian Georg Gottfried Gervinus and the botanist Johann Jacob Dillenius.

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