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4.5 Million Euros Granted for German-Israeli Research Program on “Human Rights under Pressure”

German Research Foundation (DFG) and Einstein Foundation Berlin to fund a collaborative doctoral research program at Freie Universität Berlin and Hebrew University of Jerusalem: First German-Israeli doctoral program to be funded by the DFG

№ 195/2013 from Jul 02, 2013

After a competitive selection process, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved significant funding for the establishment of a new international research training group to study contemporary challenges to the pursuit of human rights. The Group "Human Rights under Pressure - Ethics, Law and Politics" will take the form of a joint interdisciplinary doctoral and research program carried out in cooperation between Freie Universität Berlin and the Minerva Center for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Researchers from the Human Rights Centre of the University of Potsdam and the German Institute for Human Rights will also take part. This is the first German-Israeli doctoral program to be funded by the DFG. Half of the 4.5 million euro program budget will derive from funds pledged by the Einstein Foundation Berlin. 

Over the next few years, the program will enable approximately 40 doctoral students (divided equally between Berlin and Jerusalem and jointly supervised by faculty from both universities) to participate in a comprehensively structured PhD program. Scheduled to launch in fall 2014, the program is expected to attract outstanding doctoral candidates from Germany, Israel, and beyond. The researchers will investigate topics related to three of the most pressing contemporary challenges to concepts of human rights: crises and emergencies; diversity; and globalization. The program will be interdisciplinary, with doctoral candidates and research supervisors from a variety of fields such as law, political science, international relations, philosophy, criminology, history, sociology, comparative ethics, and the educational sciences.

The program exemplifies the internationalization and excellence priorities of Freie Universität Berlin and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which have had a strategic partnership since 2011. The historical relationship between Germany and Israel, as well as the different experiences of both states and societies with human rights, are expected to add substantive content to abstract concepts, enabling the transfer of ideas and accumulation of knowledge, while overcoming national and traditional understandings of human rights.

"Our goal is to facilitate innovative and interdisciplinary human rights research through a network of research institutions and researchers," said the Berlin leader of the project, Prof. Klaus Hoffmann-Holland of the Department of Law at Freie Universität.

"We aim to build intellectual bridges, both between societies and between academic disciplines, providing fertile ground for excellent doctoral research,” said Prof. Tomer Broude, the Jerusalem leader of the project at the Minerva Center for Human Rights and a professor at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law and Department of International Relations.

The president of the Hebrew University, Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, said: "The interaction of experts from Jerusalem and Berlin creates an excellent research environment for future doctoral students."

The president of Freie Universität Berlin, Prof. Peter-André Alt, stated: "We want to combine international and regional synergies and provide our young researchers with opportunities for international experience early in their careers.”

Further Information

  • Dov Smith, Hebrew University, Division of Marketing & Communication, 02-5882844 / 054-8820860 (+972-54-8820860),
  • Christa Beckmann, Freie Universität Berlin, Office of News and Public Affairs, +49-30-838-73182,