The field of jurisprudence is today faced with a number of barely compatible responsibilities. Classical, systematic-dogmatic work on legal texts continues to have, in the light of the flood of laws and the profusion of judgements in states where law and legal action prevail, enormous practical as well as theoretical importance. The role of law in shaping societal development is increasingly moving to the forefront, however. How can lawmakers effectively achieve their purpose? Where is there a need for regulation in the first place? To what extent are deregulation and self-regulation needed? What sanctions, within and without the legal system, are likely to be successful?

The answer to these and other questions can nowadays only be sought in theoretical terms and answered in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary discourse. Involved in this discourse are in particular the jurisprudence sciences, political science, philosophy and sociology.

At the same time, European law is gaining increasing influence in Europe's multiple-level legal system. The European Union is a community of states, constitutional, administrative and judicial systems that is constantly reinvigorated and, indeed, must be reinvigorated by a complex interaction between various actors, associational techniques and instruments. In addition to European law, both international and transnational law, embodied in numerous agreements and in the work of international organisations of which Germany is a member, are more important than ever. The WTO, to take one example, represents an important step in the direction of a global economic order. Both developments require intensive support from the jurisprudence sciences and in particular comparative legal research.

Finally, institutions are undergoing change and transformation, not only in central and eastern European countries, but also in Germany and the western industrialised countries, and above all in the USA, hence confronting jurisprudence science with completely new challenges.

The Fritz Thyssen Foundation favours projects which go beyond classical, inner-German, systematic-dogmatic investigation; in other words, it favours projects which go beyond studies of particular laws, legal fields, disciplines or national borders. Whether such investigations deal largely with private or public law, substantive or procedural law is not important. This does not mean that only research into European law, comparative or interdisciplinary studies can be supported. Projects which undertake a functional investigation of law are given preference, however: the Foundation would like to make a contribution to the investigation of law in modern, industrial societies - societies linked in manifold ways to a host of other countries.