Located in the state of Thuringia, Jena is a city with a population of 100.000 inhabitants, nestled in valley of Saale river. Within only a few years of the political revolution in East Germany, the city is brought to life by a combination of a historic and intellectual past, a delightful countryside, innovative and international research, industry and a youthful student life.

Culture is inescapable in the city where generations of poets and philosophers like Goethe, Schiller, Hegel and Fichte have contributed with their Romanticism and Classicism during the times of the city’s establishment 450 years ago. This is where the democratic spirit of unity, justice and liberty in Germany was formed by the students against the fundamental repercussions in high politics. The colors black-red-gold, now the national colors of Germany, were then the symbols of fraternity among the youth.
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (10 November 1759 – 9 May 1805
Ernst Karl Abbe (23 January 1840 – 14 January 1905
The foundation of Jena’s international reputation as an industrial center started at the Friedrich Schiller University. Zeiss’s precision engineering and optics plant and the glass chemical works Schott & Gen. came into being virtually as spin-off enterprises out of the Alma Mater, through a close dovetailing of science and the business world. This form of cooperation between university and industry evolved naturally. First steps to emerge into the industrial age were taken by Ernst Abbe, appointed Associate Professor in 1870, who developed his theory of microscope image formation. He was given this commission by a university mechanic, Carl Zeiss, who had been steadily perfecting the construction of optical equipment in his private workshops. Otto Schott, who received his doctorate at Jena in 1875, was the third to enter into this alliance by founding, at Abbe’s urging, a "Laboratory for Glass Technology" in 1884, to produce the highly pure special lenses for Zeiss’s microscopes and optical equipment. Success of the Zeiss plant brought highly qualified workers to the city and this yielded profits for the city and the university. Throughout the evolution of the city, the contributions of Zeiss Foundation and Otto Schott, teachings of biologist Ernst Haeckel, mathematician and logician Gottlob Frege, psychiatrist Otto Binswanger, the philosopher Rudolf Eucken, the historians Johann Gustav Droysen and Alexander Cartellieri, the philologists Sievers and Delbrück, jurist Eduard Rosenthal and a pioneer of wireless telegraphy Max Wien can not be underestimated.
In the mid 1920s the notion of a model National Socialist University came into being, despite the city’s libertarian climate. Following a brief phase of reorganization after 1945 the Alma Mater once again got caught in the whirlpool of political ideology, and was now expected to evolve into a "socialist university". The most visible symbol of this is the "research high-rise" (“cookie roll” as it’s called), built from 1967-72 according to plans by GDR star architect Herbert Henselmann and originally intended for the state-owned VEB Carl Zeiss, into which the academics had to move. At 127m this prominent signal of socialist authoritarian architecture towers above the city on the Saale. Nonetheless: in its shadow emerged an atmosphere of subversive resistance, and Jena was regarded as a dissident stronghold in the GDR.

In 1989 professors and students demonstrated on the streets together as constraints on intellectual freedom had been most excessive nowhere else other than in the fields of research and education. Right after the political revolution, the University of Jena carried out severe measures such as evaluating all teachers and forming 10 faculties out of the previously existing departments. A new campus was immediately founded on the formersite of the main Zeiss plant and a project for the University Clinic got underway and the Medical Faculty started caregiving to Thuringia with its 1400 bed clinic.

Now, with its roughly 19 000 students of the Friedrich Schiller University and the University of Applied Sciences, the University of Jena maintains alliance with Halle and Leipzig, sharing interdisciplinary projects in five DFG Collaborative Research Centers and seven Innovationskollegs (lecture series). The climate in Jena also seems to be having a positive effect on teaching: the advisory relationship between students and lecturers is comparatively good, indeed to such an extent that the prospect of a rapid and intensive course of studies persuaded an apparently large number of students to give their top marks in the most recent university rankings by "Spiegel", "Stern" and "Stiftung Warentest". It is the common goal of those responsible at the university, and at city and state level that this development should continue uninterrupted.
Zeiss plant Jena