In retrospect, four phases of science policy development can be identified since the late 1950s. The German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat, WR) played a major role in shaping these phases:
In the 1960s and 1970s, the initial focus lay on expanding the research and higher education system, especially the university system.
This was followed by a phase dominated by reforms in science and higher education policy – while, at the same time, the influx of funds was reduced.
During the German reunification phase, the WR laid the foundation for developing a high-performance science landscape in the new states (Länder) through assessments and recommendations.
At the beginning of the new millennium, topics such as the differentiation of the science landscape, the promotion of top-level research, equal opportunities for scientists, performance evaluations and governance all entered the WR’s agenda.