Collège de France

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“DOCET OMNIA” (“It teaches everything”) on the gable of the Collège de France

The Collège de France ( German  College of France ) is an institution dedicated to research and teaching in Paris . As a grand établissement (such as the école des hautes études en sciences sociales or Sciences Po ), it enjoys the highest prestige of all scientific institutions in France.

To date, 21 Nobel Prize winners and 8 Fields medalists have been associated with the Collège de France . Every professor is obliged to give lectures that are free of charge and accessible to everyone. The approximately 50 professors are selected by the professors themselves from a variety of disciplines in both the natural sciences and the humanities. The motto of the Collège de France is “Docet Omnia” ( Latin for “It teaches everything”).


The Collège de France, located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, is unique in France and without comparison in the western world (the only exception is the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton). Although it has a university character with its professorships and institutes, it has no enrolled students, no well-structured teaching program and no diplomas. Rather, it is used for free basic research in the natural sciences and humanities and communicating them to the public in the form of publications and lectures that are accessible to all interested parties free of charge. The official mandate of the Collège is to “teach knowledge in its creation” ( enseigner le savoir en train de se faire ).

For a number of years there has been a branch of the Collège, which is connected to the Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III University and comprises an institute for research into climate change and earthquakes.

The 54 professorships at the Collège cover a wide range of subjects, which is divided into five groups: mathematics, physics, other natural sciences including medicine, philosophy / sociology / economics and law, and history / linguistics and literature / archeology. As a rule, the professors are French, but the Collège is careful to always appoint a certain percentage of foreigners. Two of the professorships are filled with foreign visiting professors for one year each. In addition, there are shorter series of lectures by invited researchers from Germany and abroad.

If a professorship becomes vacant, the assembly of professors advises and decides which discipline and research direction it will be devoted to in the future and which person should be appointed to it. Appointments are only given to individuals who are recognized as leading experts in their field. A chair at the Collège de France is undisputedly the culmination of a career as a scholar. A certain formal qualification as a prerequisite for employment is not required.


Courtyard of the Collège de France

The origins of the Collège de France go back to the year 1530, when King Francis I followed a suggestion by his librarian, the great humanist Guillaume Budé , and appointed “royal readers” ( lecteurs royaux ). These should be financially secure and independently active and teach in subjects that were committed to young humanism, but were ostracized by the Paris University, which was dominated by the orthodox theologians of the Sorbonne . These subjects were initially Hebrew and ancient Greek , the study of which the Sorbonne had banned shortly before (1529), and classical Latin . A little later, (French) law, mathematics and medicine were added.

The name of the new college of scholars was Collège Royal or Collège des trois langues (or in Latin Collegium Trilingue , based on an older institution in the vicinity of the University of Leuven ). It was the first institution of higher education in France that was deliberately founded bypassing the universities, as they appeared to be dominated and encrusted by yesterday's theologians and lawyers. After the revolution, the Collège was renamed Collège national , only to change its name several times in the 19th century, depending on the regime: Collège impérial, royal, national, impérial and finally, from 1870, Collège de France .

In 2019, Thomas Römer was the first German to be elected head of the Collège de France.

Its Latin motto has been: docet omnia , dt. "(It) teaches everything".

Famous teachers at the college

Coin of the Collège de France of 1845, obverse: Adam Mickiewicz, Jules Michelet, Edgar Quinet
Coin of the Collège de France from 1845, reverse: Inscription: Ut omnes unum sint .
(On the edge: Borrel fecit 1845)

Further lecturers at the Collège de France can be found under the category: University teachers (Collège de France) .


  • André Tuilier : Histoire du Collège de France. Volume I. Fayard, Paris 2006.

Web links

Commons : Collège de France  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Römer | PSL. Retrieved January 17, 2020 .
  2. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Récamier, Joseph-Claude-Anthelme. In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1219.

Coordinates: 48 ° 50 ′ 57 "  N , 2 ° 20 ′ 44"  E