The academic program combines area studies research on China, Japan, and South Korea with political science, law, business and economics, anthropology, history, and cultural studies. The Graduate School builds on networks between Freie Universität Berlin and the leading research universities and scholarly institutions in East Asia as well as the key research institutions in Europe and the United States that focus on East Asia.
The academic program includes courses taught in Berlin as well as fieldwork in East Asia, all of which occur in cooperation with partner universities in East Asia, the United States, and Europe. A stay of at least six months at a partner university in East Asia during the dissertation phase is expected. Summer schools in different countries are intended to contribute to a better understanding of the similarities and differences among the countries from both a historical perspective as well as the current state of affairs. Renowned visiting scholars and research fellows from the areas of politics, organizations, and business will augment the regular faculty members. They will pursue their own research projects and give the graduate students impressions of work outside the classroom.
Since October 2013, twelve graduate students have started working on their doctoral theses. In addition, three postdoctoral researchers are pursuing their research projects, and two of the three advertised positions for junior professors have been filled. The director of the graduate school is Verena Blechinger-Talcott, professor of Japanese studies. Eun-Jeung Lee, professor of Korean studies, and Klaus Mühlhahn, professor of Chinese studies, are vice directors.
The keynote address for the opening of GEAS was given by Ezra Vogel, Professor emeritus of sociology at Harvard University and one of the leading experts in the world on East Asia. Welcoming addresses were given by the Ambassadors of Japan, South Korea, and China.
GEAS is the seventh structured doctoral program that is based at Freie Universität or with involvement of Freie Universität in the program to be funded by the German Excellence Initiative.