Although it is a modern institution of higher learning with about 28,000 students, the Justus–Liebig–Universität Gießen (JLU) boasts over four centuries of tradition. The university has 11 areas of academic study that range from humanities and social sciences to medicine, law and veterinary science. Within these specialties, students have the choice of over 150 different academic majors, as well as the option to obtain a bachelors, masters or doctorate degree.
The university was named after its most famous faculty member, Justus von Liebig, who is considered the founder of modern agricultural chemistry as well as one of the greatest chemistry teachers. Liebig was named professor in 1824 and taught for 28 years at the university. Other famous professors were Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (who developed X–ray technology and received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1901), and Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Prize in 2004). Since 2006, the university has been selected to participate in the federal government's Excellence Initiative (Excellence Cluster Cardio–Pulmonary System – ECCPS; International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture – GCSC).
The JLU was originally founded in 1607 as a Protestant university by the Landgrave Ludwig V von Hessen–Darmstadt. Today, the university has grown into the second largest in the state of Hessen, and its facilities are spread throughout Gießen. JLU offers a unique combination of "classic" disciplines such as the natural sciences, medicine, veterinary science, agriculture and environmental science. In the areas of cultural studies and the humanities, JLU has unique programs such as the working group for Holocaust Literature, the Gießen Center for Eastern Europe and the Center for Media and Interactivity.
The 400–year–old Botanical Garden, which is in its original location in the city center, features over 7,500 species. The botanical garden is open to the public but is also used by the university for research. Another interesting historical building is the Castle Rauischholzhausen, which is surrounded by a 30–hectare English garden and is also used as a seminar center.