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Hebrew University and Freie Universität Berlin Sign Agreement for Joint Doctoral Program

Universities Expand Strategic Cooperation as Israel and Germany Mark Fifty Years of Diplomatic Relations

№ 037/2015 from Feb 11, 2015

On the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, the presidents of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Freie Universität Berlin further expanded the two universities' extensive strategic partnership by signing a joint doctoral program agreement. The Joint PhD, which is open to all disciplines at the two universities, is the first of its kind between German and Israeli institutions of higher learning. Alternate periods of research will take place at Freie Universität Berlin and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Each student will have two supervisors, one in Berlin and one in Jerusalem. At the end of the program, the students will receive a joint degree from both universities.

Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, the president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said:  "Today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between and Germany and Israel. It is not by chance that the commemorative events begin with the signing of an agreement between our universities; not by chance, because the diplomatic relations between our two nations were preceded by cooperation in science and research. Thus diplomatic relations followed from the life of science, which does not know any border, color or nationality. Fifty years from now, those who commemorate the centennial of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany will be able to celebrate the fruitful results of dozens of students and scientists, whose studies will have been made possible by today's joint doctoral agreement. The relationship between Freie Universität Berlin and the Hebrew University is not only an academic partnership; it is also a strategic partnership that will bring together hundreds of faculty and students, and lead to many joint projects in the future.

Prof. Peter-André Alt, president of Freie Universität Berlin, added: "The alliance between our universities provides exciting opportunities for faculty and students of both universities in teaching and learning, as well as the joint development of critical research. By signing this agreement on doctoral education today, we continue this path and join forces in promoting young researches and creating a stimulating research environment that combines the outstanding opportunities across all academic fields offered by our two institutions. Through this new endeavor, Berlin and Jerusalem unite in building a unique framework that will shape a new generation of researchers in our two countries. And, in this sense, the agreement we sign today truly marks nothing less than the beginning of a new era in the relations between our universities, and also in the academic cooperation between Israel and Germany." 

Today's agreement, which was signed at Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, adds to the universities' numerous joint research projects in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, as well as student exchange. In November 2014, the two universities signed an agreement to enhance cooperation in research and teaching, through the exchange of technical and administrative staff. Participants will benefit from the sharing of mutual professional best practices.

Commemorative Events Marking 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations

Freie Universität Berlin and the Hebrew University will host various cooperative projects as part of a program of events commemorating the anniversary year. They include not only workshops and conferences for scientists and scholars, but also a lecture series in Jerusalem on the history of German literature from the Middle Ages to the present, which started during the 2014 spring term and will be concluded with a final event in April 2015.

Furthermore, in a joint teaching project students at Freie Universität and at Hebrew University are studying the history of the Holocaust. The future teachers in both countries will exchange ideas and information through the Internet, working together to develop teaching materials. The highlight of the class is joint field trips to memorials and memorial sites in Jerusalem (April 12 to 19, 2015) and Berlin (March 22 to 29, 2015).

The German-Israeli Research Training Group “Human Rights under Pressure – Ethics, Law, and Politics,” a joint Freie Universität-Hebrew University program, is expected to be officially opened in June 2015. Each year 20 doctoral students from each university will be educated within the Training Group.

Further Information

  • Dr. Nina Diezemann, Office of News and Public Affairs, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-73190, Email:
  • Dov Smith, Foreign Press Liaison, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel.: + 972-2-5882844, Email: