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ETHistory 1855-2005 | Sightseeing | Times | 2005 |

2005: ETH Today

The book on the history of the ETH


Wherever flexibility is introduced, alternative forms of security must also be created. The ETH achieved this security by giving its networks more global moorings, improving its information technology and gradually transforming itself into a university of natural sciences and technology.

The ETH Hönggerberg.
The ETH Hönggerberg.

Since the 1970s there has been a clearly perceptible growth in internationalisation in the appointment of professors, both men and women. The ever-growing number of evaluations and rankings since the late 1980s have established the ETH on the international scene, and since the end of the 1990s a common European basis for university studies has been, and is still being, built up (the Bologna Reform programme)

This globalization is also reflected in the fact that the ETH is involved in the international competition for outstanding doctoral candidates. Nor should one underestimate the pressure for standardization - in every respect - that has been going on for decades in the world of scientific publications.

This increasing introduction of more computer-based flexibility in structures and the new atmosphere prevailing at the ETH have certainly led to new ways of dealing with day-to-day life there. In recent years the ETH has become a university for natural sciences and technology, where people are very familiar with the laws of supply and demand. They know where the turnover and markets for information are most readily accessible, and how they can perform as experts in self-management or change-management.

In so doing, they are paving the way for the future of the ETH in a much more radical way than the founders of the Polytechnic would ever have dreamt possible. Top-level decisions are more far-reaching and more geared to the future than ever before, be it in the working out of study programmes or in the appointment of professors. This has to do with the fact that there must be a clear distinction between university research and the practical approach of other institutes. More and more university research and teaching deals with things that only in an increasingly distant future will prove viable in industry.

At the same time - and this is new - planning (for the future) and reporting (on the past) are increasingly found side by side in change management; in other words, the future is bound more and more to the present. Not for nothing does the ETH of today “welcome” its visitors to the world of “tomorrow”. The sensors of the university seem to be so finely tuned that they can pick up today even tiny changes which might prove to be relevant in the future.

This fine tuning in real time, this coordinating, computer-based ability to analyse is, however, delicately balanced against the diametrically opposed principle of what used to be called “leadership”, i. e. the right to issue directives.

© 2005 ETH Zurich | Credits | March 31, 2005 | !!! This document is stored in the ETH Web archive and is no longer maintained !!!