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Twelve million euros for international research college

Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa starts second funding round

How can ecological restructuring, democracy and peace in Africa be realized sustainably? How can the voices of renowned opinion leaders be made heard and innovative approaches from science and practice be seen on the continent? These are among the major goals of the Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA). In the one and a half years of its existence, the international research college has achieved impressive results, and following a successful assessment by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), MIASA will be entering its main phase in September 2020. The BMBF will be supporting the institute until 2026 with a total of nearly twelve million euros.

“It is our role as a university to build bridges for the worldwide exchange of knowledge and so meet our responsibility for political, social and cultural challenges,” says Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rector of the University of Freiburg. The University of Freiburg with the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) and the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI) are responsible for developing and coordinating the institute at the University of Ghana.

 “MIASA will be an anchor point for researchers from Germany, Africa and throughout the world to study the subject of sustainable governance. We want to make a significant contribution to the reduction in global asymmetries of knowledge,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Mehler, Director of the ABI and initiator of the college. MIASA offers suitable formats for shaping academic knowledge production globally, Mehler emphasizes. At the heart of the cooperation are interdisciplinary research groups. With this approach, scientists from all around the world work together on a thematic focus, such as migration narratives or the functioning of African parliaments. The results are presented and published at international conferences.

 The Ghanaian director of MIASA, Prof. Abena D. Oduro, stresses, “MIASA will be an intellectual hub offering unprecedented opportunities for highly topical research relevant to Africa and career advancement of the most promising early career researchers on the continent. The unique intellectual traditions of the University of Ghana at Legon (Accra) will have a strong impact on the way our fellows will address their research.”

FRIAS is one of the main German partners of MIASA, responsible above all for the management and quality enhancement of all processes relevant for finances and fellow selection. But there is much more, as Professor Dr. Bernd Kortmann, Executive Director FRIAS, points out: "This funding decision secures the presence of African researchers at FRIAS well into the next decade, which in turn is bound to influence, in parts even shape, research in the humanities and social sciences at FRIAS. Relevant research fields already firmly planned for the next years at FRIAS include the Environmental Humanities, Human Rights Research, and Global History."

MIASA also makes numerous tools available for spreading debates and the results of research to a wider public. Another focus of MIASA is the networking of players involved in science and practice. The Policy Fellow format, for instance, enables representatives from political and civil society organizations to visit this first Institute for Advanced Studies outside of South Africa. Artists are also invited to follow the work of the research groups and create an imaginative and inspirational resonance space.

 

Background information

With the international research colleges of the Maria Sibylla Merian centers, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research aims to promote the internationalization of the humanities, cultural and social sciences in Germany via close bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects at sites outside Germany. In regions and partner countries in South Asia, Latin America and Africa that are important to academic and science policy, colleges are being created where a group of researchers from Germany and the host country and continent will work jointly on humanities and social science issues and regularly invite fellows. The colleges are being set up and run in partnerships with German scientific institutions.

The main partners in this research cooperation are the University of Ghana and the University of Freiburg with FRIAS and ABI. In addition, the University of Frankfurt with the Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies (ZIAF) and the Point Sud network, the German Historical Institute Paris/Max Weber Foundation and the Institute of African Affairs of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg are involved.

Source: Press Office Uni Freiburg

Further information

2019/12/05