Ethical responsibility in research and teaching

The German constitution ("Grundgesetz" - "basic law") grants research and teaching a high degree of freedom:

"Art and science, research and teaching are free." (Art. 5, par. 3 GG)

This fundamental right to academic freedom goes hand in hand with a great responsibility: To always keep an eye on the boundary between what is (technically) feasible and what is socially permissible and desirable.

It is not only legal regulations that limit academic freedom, but also choices that consider ethical questions: What are the consequences of my research activities - for example on social, technical, economic or ecological systems? Do I adhere to ethical standards during my work, for example when dealing with test subjects? What are the moral values and norms that I can - and want to - follow?

All scientists have a responsibility to ask themselves these questions and apply the answers to their research activities. Ethical research strives to minimize unintended negative consequences of research as far as possible.


At KIT, the Guidelines for Ethical Principles adopted by the Senate provide guidance for all members of KIT. They state the ethical principles that are binding for KIT and give principles for acting ethically in research and teaching.

Ethical principles

The ethical principles of KIT are as follows:

"Within the framework of the freedom of arts, sciences, research, and teaching as outlined in Article 5, par. 3 of the German Constitution, we, the members and bodies of KIT, are aware of the influence our work and its results have on societal, technical, economic, and ecological systems.

We assume responsibility for our acting and for the consequences of our actions. Our work shall serve the gaining of knowledge, the sustainable benefit of mankind, and the protection of the environment and shall pursue peaceful purposes. We commit to dealing with each other in partnership, truthfulness, and trust irrespective of our position, origin, religious denomination, gender, and other forms of diversity.

We undertake to observe the present ethical principles in word and deed."