The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law belongs to the Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association. There are three research departments in the Institute: the Department of Criminal Law, the Department of Public Law, and the Department of Criminology. The Institute’s research focus includes both basic research and, owing to its interdisciplinary approach to the legal and social sciences, applied research.
The appointment of a new executive team in 2019 came with a comprehensive reorientation of the key guiding principles for their research agendas. Fundamental research is at the heart of the Department of Criminal Law led by Professor Tatjana Hörnle. We analyze the normative premises and empirical foundations of the law in force and compare principles, rules, and practices in different legal systems. In addition to conducting basic research, our researchers develop proposals designed to improve criminal law and to adapt it to the changing conditions in fragmented, digitalized, and globalized societies. The Department of Public Law’s research agenda – under the direction of Professor Ralf Poscher – addresses the preventive aspects of security-related matters. Besides addressing theoretical and doctrinal questions, which are frequently of heightened relevance in security law, our research analyzes contemporary legal, technical, and social developments – internationalization, digitalization, and fragmentation – along with associated normative challenges of danger prevention regarding fundamental rights protection, the rule of law, and democratic principles. The research program of the Department of Criminology – under the direction of Professor Jean-Louis van Gelder – focuses on the theoretical and empirical explanations for conforming and deviant behavior. The objective is to explore how individual behavior manifests itself ad hoc, how it changes or develops over time, and how it can be explained. To this end, drawing primarily on psychological theories, innovative new research methods are employed, including computer-assisted experiments using virtual reality software.
These complementary research approaches enable us to address current security-relevant issues from a basic research perspective, analytically, and with an eye to influencing legal policy.