About Us

We are conducting interdisciplinary, applied social research to provide impulses for a good society. We understand our work as “research for people” and approach it as such: guided by social ethics and focused on solving problems. We provide a platform that encourages discussions among researchers and practitioners.

The ifz is a nonprofit institution of the Archdiocese of Salzburg. It is funded by both the City of Salzburg and the State of Salzburg, the Catholic Association for University Affairs (Katholisches Hochschulwerk), and the funding association ‘Friends of the IFZ Munich’ (Verein der Freunde des IFZ e.V. München). We are working in close cooperation with the University of Salzburg and the Salzburg Ethics Initiative.

Our Guiding Principles


The ifz is building bridges between academics and practitioners. We bring together people of various backgrounds, working along a wide range of approaches to exchange ideas and explore notions of what constitutes a satisfactory life and a good society. Together we explore socio-ethical questions and solutions.


Applied empirical social research, covering a broad methodological range. Situated in philosophical thought and embedded in larger questions about a satisfactory life and a good society. Our study results and research findings provide concrete advice for assistance and thus have an immediate social impact.


We want to open new research fields and create awareness for the pressing questions of our time and the needs of people. To do so, we are committed to an academic culture of cooperation and to interdisciplinary research.


The ifz was established as a platform that allowed for encounters between the church and academia. This history remains at the center of our mission. The ifz feels committed to the Christian tradition and is obliged to Christian values.


Human dignity and solidarity are at the center of our research. Through our work, we contribute to the possibility of creating a sustainable and responsible future for the coming generations.


The First Years (1961 to 1970)

In 1961, Prof. Dr. Thomas Michels OSB establishes the International Research Center with its seven institutes on Salzburg’s Mönchsberg mountain. The center’s institutes focus on the philosophy of science (consisting of both a division for the sciences and the humanities), universal history, political science, religious studies and Christian antiquity, contemporary church history, comparative education studies, as well as an Eastern Studies institute that holds a division specialized in both the Christian and the non-Christian East.

First Realignment of the Research Centre (1970)

In 1970, the research center is reorganized. Four of the institutes are combined in three departments: a Department of Philosophy and Philosophy of Science, a Department of Religious Studies and Theology, and a Department of Social Policy and Contemporary History. Thomas Michels remains president of the International Research Center until 1977 and head of the “Institute of Religious Science and Theology” until 1979, when he passes away.

Era Clemens Sedmak (2009-2017)

In 2009, Archbishop Alois Kothgasser appoints Prof. DDDr. Clemens Sedmak as new president of the International Research Center. During this time, the center is fundamentally re-organized, developing its current focus on applied social ethics. Some of the former institutes continue to exist as separate institutions. Clemens Sedmak remains president of the ifz until 2017.

2017 Until February 2021

In 2017, Dr. Helmut P. Gaisbauer follows Clemens Sedmak as president of the International Research Center. During the presidency of the political scientist, the Center’s team continues to conduct research on topics like resilience, ambiguity/democracy, and living in old age. In 2021, Helmut P. Gaisbauer resigns from the office of president.


Christian Lagger assumes the presidency of the ifz in September 2021. He follows Markus Welte, who had provisionally held the office since March of the same year. Lagger’s aim is to expand and deepen the center’s characteristically solution-oriented and interdisciplinary research, which is based upon principles that center social-ethics and social responsibility.

Our work is supported and promoted by the Association of Friends of the IFZ e.V., the Province of Salzburg and the Archdiocese of Salzburg. Thank you very much!

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