Centres for African Studies to be built in Germany and Africa

25.10.2017 - Press release

The University of Freiburg will receive a subsidy for the “Merian International Centre for Advanced Studies in Africa”, making it the hub for African studies in Germany. There will also be centres for African studies in Ghana and Senegal.

Strengthening African viewpoints in science and politics: The goal of the newly founded “Merian International Centre for Advanced Studies in Africa” (MICAS Africa) is to develop an intellectual program and research agenda that can make the significance of African knowledge production more visible in its effect.

Accra is the latest addition to the Merian Centres
Accra is the latest addition to the Merian Centres© BMBF/Friedrich Paul

The German Ministry of Education and Research is funding the centre with 1.7 million Euro under the name “Maria Sibylla Merian Centre” during the initial phase until the end of 2020. The entire funding over the expected span of 12 years will be up to 18 million Euro in total. The University of Freiburg is primarily responsible for its structuring and coordination, together with the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) and the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute for Cultural Science Research (ABI).

The MICAS Africa will be headquartered at the University of Ghana in Accra with a second office location at the Centre de Recherches sur les Politiques Sociales in Dakar, Senegal. MICAS Africa is slated to open mid-2018. The German partners include the German Historical Institute Paris as a member of the Max Weber Foundation, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, the University of Konstanz and the Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies (ZIAF) at the University of Frankfurt.

The picturesque town of Freiburg is home to FRIAS
The picturesque town of Freiburg is home to FRIAS© picture alliance / Winfried Roth

The consortium under Freiburg’s leadership is placing its main emphasis on sustainable governance. In the beginning, issues such as migration, democratic consolidation and ecological restructuring will be the focus of interdisciplinary work conducted by excellent scientists in various fields. One of the main objectives for MICAS Africa is to make a significant contribution to tearing down the global imbalance in knowledge. This should be achieved through the planned years-long cooperation amongst top researchers as well as young researchers from Africa and the entire world.

Through this project many African guest researchers will come to Freiburg. The University of Freiburg will develop a Centre for African Studies and greatly intensify its cooperation with the University of Basel regarding research in and with Africa – a further cornerstone being the European Campus (Eucor), the consortium of universities in the Upper Rhine. MICAS Africa is also significant in helping the University of Freiburg attain its goal of finding a partner university in Africa.

Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg on MICAS Africa:

“I am thrilled two universities from Baden-Württemberg, both Freiburg and Konstanz, that are strong in research will actively shape the academic exchange between Germany and Africa. Future issues such as migration, sustainable democracy or ecological restructuring in societies can only be explored through an exchange between North and South and across disciplines. The Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI) is predestined to actively shape this dialogue. Relying on its extensive expertise, the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) will be able to add further to building an international research college.”

Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rector for the University of Freiburg:

“Freiburg has emerged as an essential centre for African studies in Germany thanks to this achievement. Along with Asian studies, which has been one of the most important featured subjects at our university for years, we will be able to consistently develop yet another significant regional research focus.”

Prof. Ebenezer Owusu, Rector for the University of Ghana:

“The University of Ghana is a unique place in the world of universities through its combination of everything Africa has to offer intellectually and a completely internationally oriented way of thinking. My colleagues and I will do everything imaginable to make MICAS Africa a true success story.”

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