The Graduate School of North American Studies will be funded for another five years to carry on its successful academic program.
The Graduate School of North American Studies, which is affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, has been funded since the first round of the German Excellence Initiative in 2006. It is dedicated to the analysis of the American ideal of freedom and the social, cultural and economic changes facing North America at the beginning of the 21st century. The program emphasizes the innovative potential of interdisciplinary cooperation between the humanities and the social sciences. Doctoral and post-doctoral projects from the disciplinary fields of American and Canadian literature, cultural studies, history, sociology, political science, and economics are welcome. The curriculum is designed to promote interdisciplinary research.
As the value most central to American society, the idea of freedom has spurred social and cultural change time and again since the founding of the American nation. At the same time, however, it has always been the starting point of debates about its social and economic conditions.
In recent years, in the context of increasing globalization, it has become apparent that there are limits to the democratic governability of modern societies. The financial crisis and its consequences have created public awareness of the unequal distribution of social opportunities and economic pressures. The economic rise of China, India, and Brazil signalize a multi-polar world which limits the influence and power of the United States. Internally in the United States, the crisis rhetoric of radical movements as Tea Party causes political polarization.
In literary texts and media broadcasts, narratives of a crisis of American identity are gaining ground. In the coming years, the research program of the graduate school will focus on the crisis-prone transformations running through American society today, apparent in both domestic and foreign policy and economic development, as well as in the media, the arts, culture, and religion. Research topics dealing with the situation in Canada are also welcome.
The interdisciplinary cooperation within the John F. Kennedy Institute and with renowned experts from other institutes of Freie Universität Berlin, the broad network between the graduate school, high-ranking American and Canadian universities and relevant institutions within the Berlin-Brandenburg region, and a distinguished visiting professor program all contribute to doctoral and postdoctoral training of highest international standard.