Excellence Initiative

Cluster of Excellence "Creative Destruction"

"Destructive and creative energy are directly connected."

Herfried Münkler

From St. Peter's Basilica to the Refrigerator

A contemporary observer watching a papal audience, either in person at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome or on television, usually has no idea that the church we see today arose out of the brutal destruction of one of Christianity's most important churches. Before the foundations of the current structure could be laid, an older basilica dating back to the time of Emperor Constantine, with magnificent mosaics and exquisite columns, had to be torn down. All that is left of one of antiquity's most famous churches are drawings and a few scattered remains.
This direct connection between destructive and creative energy was observed by the economist Josef A. Schumpeter (1883-1950), who noticed that the development of the refrigerator had lead to the unemployment of thousands of ice deliverymen. His paradigm of creative destruction which was originally developed for economic analysis, is also a promising tool in describing processes of radical change in cognitive, symbolic, political, and social systems. The "Harnack Kolleg for Transdisciplinary Study" will be established as an institutional framework in which transdisciplinary study groups can work together.
With this Exzellenzcluster, Humboldt-Universität is building upon its existing research associations such as the Collaborative Research Centers 649 "Economic Risk", 644 "Transformations in Antiquity", and 640 "Changing Representations of Social Order - Intercultural and Intertemporal Comparisons", and the interdisciplinary August Boeckh Center for Antiquity.