About the Protestant Institute for Church Law
The Protestant Institute for Church Law at the University of Potsdam was founded on June 12, 2003 and formally recognised as such on December 17, 2003. It is an ecclesiastical institution of the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia. Members of the Institute’s supporting body – a non-profit association - are university professors, judges, administrative officials, lawyers, solicitors, theologians. The General Assembly of members is supported by an Advisory Council.
The Governing Board is responsible for scholastic questions. Its members are Professor Dr. Detlev W. Belling, M.C.L. (U. of Ill.), Potsdam and Professor Dr. Gerhard Robbers, Trier. The Institute is managed by Dr. Joachim Gaertner, church official (ret.) and former deputy head of the Berlin liaison office of the Evangelical Church in Germany, and Dr. Martin Richter, church official of the Consistory of the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia, both Berlin/Potsdam.
The objective of the Institute, laid down in paragraph two of the articles of Association, is to foster and promote research and teaching in the field of church law and the law governing church-state relations as well as in the connected sections of theology and history. This is put into effect by
- Lectures at the Law Faculty of Potsdam University.
- Advice on and supervision of publications and research projects (in particular, masters’ and doctoral theses) both of students and young scholars.
- The implementation of research projects of the Institute.
- Access to an academic library on church law.
The Law Faculty of Potsdam University took advantage of a legal training reform, which came into operation in 2003, to set up a separate section of legal studies i.e.“intellectual foundations of law”. This new field consists of lectures in church history, church law and law of church-state relations as well as legal history and legal philosophy. Students may choose to be examined in these subjects in their final university examination (First law examination).
This development encouraged the Christian churches to engage themselves at the Potsdam University Law Faculty. In December 2002 the Catholic Institute for Church Law was launched. The Protestant side followed suit with the solemn opening of the Protestant Institute for Law on December 17, 2003 (Articles in Alumni and Portal). Both acts are based on agreements of cooperation between the University or the Law Faculty on the one hand and with the Institutes for Church Law on the other.
In the same fashion an agreement on the joint implementation of procedures to obtain a iuris utriusque doctorate (a doctorate in both laws – the secular und the church law) was concluded in January 2004 between the Law Faculty of Potsdam University on the one hand and both Institutes for Church Law on the other. After the official approval by the Rector of the University and the transformation of the agreement into a charter, the agreement is now in effect and constitutes an additional incentive for the teaching and research offered at both Institutes for Church Law.
Foreign Students who have completed a law degree or an equivalent degree and who wish to follow a master’s course in law (LL.M.) at Potsdam University may also study church law. Their curriculum corresponds to the selected field of church law, history of church law and the law of state-church relations, legal history and legal philosophy as an element of the regular curriculum for the legal training at the Law Faculty of Potsdam University.