Centre for Social Investment (CSI)

The Centre for Social Investment (CSI) is a research centre at the Max-Weber-Institute for Sociology in the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of Heidelberg University. It was founded 2006 and sees itself as an interdisciplinary centre in research, education and training as well as a transdisciplinary partner for the third sector.

Social innovations, social impact research, social integration, social enterprises, impact investment and social economy are the focus of research. As an academic institution, the CSI contributes with its research to fundamental theoretical understanding and application-related knowledge. As a collaborative partner, it promotes policy and strategic debates in civil society and the third sector from its findings.

From the beginning, the research aims to transfer scientifically generated knowledge into practice in an applicable, consultative manner and in terms of science communication. The results obtained in this way contribute to the formation of the identity of the third sector and contribute to increasing the effectiveness of social enterprises by analyzing and thus improving its legal, economic and social framework. The research results are carried through teaching and publications into the academic world. In addition, the transfer into practice takes place through innovation formats of cross-sectoral cooperation, for example in innovation labs.

Find out more about our research topics and the projects here!

Prof. Dr. Kathia Serrano Velarde
Academic Director

Executive Director

Dr. Georg Mildenberger
Executive Director (acting), Head of Research

Prof. Dr. Helmut K. Anheier
Academic Director (2009-2019)

Dr. Volker Then
Executive Director (2006-2021)

Current projects

  • RUN – Rural Urban Nutrient Partnership (2019-2024)

Profile of the CSI

Interdisciplinary, international approach

In today's world, the complex tasks of nonprofit organizations, social enterprises or foundations can only be solved through a consistent collaboration of social sciences (civil society, policy analysis), law (nonprofit law, foundation law), economics (management), as well as theology and ethics (normative foundations). Therefore, we pay special attention to innovative border crossings - be it between sectors of society (e.g. politics, economy and civil society) or between disciplines. In addition to interdisciplinarity and knowledge transfer, CSI places special emphasis on international connections, both within the team and within the projects.

Transdisciplinary cooperation with the practice

In communicating its research results, the CSI uses classic formats of communication and transfer. That is, the transfer of relevant knowledge to practice. The institute also works on new innovation formats. From the very beginning, the researchers are in close exchange with actors in business, politics and practice. The research is based on societal problems and the resulting social needs. Results obtained in the research process are passed on to practitioners in the form of impulses for change. Such formats of collaboration are, for example, Reallabs, Social Innovation Labs, or Intralabs for the entrepreneurial and strategic further development of participating organizations.

Cooperations and funding

The research projects carried out at the CSI are based on third-party funds. Sponsors include the European Union, federal and state ministries, foundations, business enterprises, charities, civil society organizations and the DFG.

As part of the Max-Weber-Institute for Sociology, the CSI is part of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. In addition, there are cooperative relationships with the Faculty of Law and the The Institute for the Study of Christian Social Service of the University of Heidelberg as well as other individual institutes and professors. Since 2016, the Max-Weber-Institute has received basic funding from the university for the CSI. The core funding of the CSI in its development phase as a Central Research Institution at the University (until 2015) was based on funds of the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Deutsche Bank Foundation, the Hertie Foundation, the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and only to a small extent from the University of Heidelberg.



Centre for Social Investment (CSI)
Max-Weber-Institute of Sociology

Postal address: Bergheimerstr. 58, D-69115 Heidelberg
Visitor address: Vossstr. 2, Building 4410, D-69115 Heidelberg, Location
E-Mail: georg.mildenberger@csi.uni-heidelberg.de
Tel.:  +49 (0) 6221 - 54 119 50

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