Collegium Helveticum

The Collegium Helveticum is a think tank and laboratory for transdisciplinary research.

As an inter-university Institute of Advanced Study, the CH aims at providing a meeting place and forum for dialogue between the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, engineering, medical science, and the arts


The fellows form the core membership of the CH. The Collegium’s fellowship concept centres around the appointment of a small number of fellows for a comparatively long period of five years, who collaborate on so-called transdisciplinary fellowship projects revolving around an overarching research topic. The fellows are generally chair holders/professors at the Collegium’s sponsor institutions (3 x University of Zurich, 3 x ETH Zurich, 1 x Zurich University of the Arts). The fellows continue to hold their professorships and dedicate 20 % of their workload to the CH (long-term, part-time fellowships). They also receive an additional sabbatical term, which they spend at our institute.

The Collegium Helveticum is a think tank and laboratory for transdisciplinary research.

In 1997 it had been founded by The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology as a research training group. In 2004 the University of Zurich became a sponsor institution – and the CH turned into an Institute of Advanced Study. In 2016 the Zurich University of the Arts joined both institutions as an additional sponsor unit. 


A new topic of research is selected for each new, four-year fellowship period. Within this topic, fellowship projects are developed using a bottom-up approach, resulting in inclusive, transdisciplinary research projects led by at least two fellows and involving a number of additional disciplines/fields of competence via associated fellows and collaborators.


The topics of research so far:

2016–2020: Digital societies

2009–2016: Reproducibility

2004–2009: Emotions

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The CH has been a self-described Lab for Transdisciplinarity research for more than ten years. In fact, like many other Institutes of Advanced Study, we favour or even demand transdisciplinarity in our work. In the current fellowship period, we are making transdisciplinary research itself a research subject. Drawing on the topic of the current fellowship period, the challenges of transdisciplinarity will be examined through a critical lens. This is all the more important as digitalisation is shaping transdisciplinarity as an academic pursuit, while the study of social digitalisation requires an approach that is transgressing beyond individual disciplines.


Additionally, the Collegium Helveticum hosts a satellite institute, the Ludwik Fleck Center for philosophy of science. Founded in 2005, the Ludwik Fleck Center was dedicated to managing the scientific legacy of the Polish physician and scientist Ludwik Fleck (1896-1961), who is considered a pioneer of modern scientific research. Together with the ETH Archive of Contemporary History, the center runs the Fleck Archive, in which documents from Fleck‘s estate and reception history are stored, prepared, and made accessible to the public. The Ludwik Fleck Center is a forum for the study of Ludwik Fleck‘s scientific work, life and ideas. Meanwhile, the Ludwik Fleck Center has widened its focus from Fleck, in particular, to the philosophy of science in general.

The Collegium Helveticum is located in Zurich’s city center and resides in ETH’s old observatory constructed by the well-known architect and professor Gottfried Semper in the late 19th century.

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Collegium Helveticum
Semper-Sternwarte Schmelzbergstrasse 25
8092 Zurich