In October 2016 the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) and Freie Universität Berlin (FUB) have signed an agreement to collaborate in the form of a strategic partnership. Prof. Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor of UC Berkeley, and Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, President of Freie Universität Berlin, signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate closely in the research, support for young researchers, and teaching. The main collaboration will take place in cutting-edge research fields Freie Universität is particularly strong in, such as health research, digitization, and global studies. It will enable close, project-based cooperation between researchers at both universities.
The strategic partnership between UC Berkeley and Freie Universität Berlin is based on a cooperation that has grown steadily over the past decades. In 2016 alone, approximately 80 students, PhD students, and researchers from UC Berkeley studied or conducted research at FUB. Furthermore, the University of California Education Abroad Program for Germany is based at Freie Universität Berlin and brings up to 200 students from the University of California system to Berlin each year, more than two thirds of them studying at Freie Universität. The university’s research collaboration with the UC system is reflected in numerous joint publications; during the past five years, there were almost 230 in the natural sciences and selected social sciences alone, the largest share of which with UCB.
For both universities, this agreement is part of a strategy to pursue a structural cooperation with selected international partner institutions. One of the key components of Freie Universität’s internationalization strategy is to establish strategic partnerships worldwide with a number of leading foreign research institutions. The university’s strategy, dubbed “International Network University” in the German government’s Excellence Initiative, helped Freie Universität Berlin gain excellence status and special funding in the two major phases of this campaign. So far, the university’s strategic partners are the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, Peking University in China, St. Petersburg University in Russia, and the University of British Columbia in Canada. The partnership now concluded with the University of California at Berkeley is the fifth of the university’s strategic partnerships.