Freie Universität’s strategic partners are the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), the University of British Columbia (Canada), St. Petersburg State University (Russia), and Peking University (China). The new alliance will be under the patronage of Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Potsdam.
“Freie Universität Berlin and its strategic partners see it as their responsibility to actively shape the discourse on sustainability and to meet global challenges with activities in all parts of the university,” said Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, the president of Freie Universität Berlin. “Forming this network under the topic of sustainability is a great chance to further develop structures to work with our most important partners worldwide.”
The University Alliance for Sustainability will use the partners’ complementary strengths to develop joint research and teaching projects, offer exchange options for faculty, staff, and students, and foster inter-institutional learning with regard to management issues. To this end, the partners will develop joint undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Student initiatives will be able to network with their counterparts at other universities. Funding will also be available for research stays for researchers, summer schools for PhD students, conferences on the topic of “Green Campus” for management personnel, and several study and internship abroad options.
“The DAAD funding is a clear sign for us that we are on the right track when it comes to internationalization,” said Prof. Dr. Klaus Mühlhahn, the vice president in charge of internationalization at Freie Universität. “Even in the application phase, a very diverse range of units and disciplines within the university were involved in this project – therefore, internationalization is, as well as sustainability, a highly important topic for the university as a whole.”
Strategic partnerships are a key element of Freie Universität Berlin’s internationalization activities. These particular partnerships aim to impact on as many areas of university life as possible and to deepen teaching and research cooperation. Freie Universität Berlin has long-standing institutional relationships with the four partner institutions that will be part of the University Alliance for Sustainability. , andince 2011 these four universities have been strategic partners of Freie Universität.
The Alliance’s funding was won in a competitive call: the DAAD program “Strategic Partnerships and Thematic Networks” supports universities in building and developing partnerships as well as creating thematic networks with institutions abroad. During this funding period, 89 German higher education institutions applied for funding of up to 250,000 euros per year. A total of 28 projects will be supported for a maximum of four years, among them 10 strategic partnerships. With its Thematic Network “Principles of Cultural Dynamics,” Freie Universität had already been successful in this funding program’s last call in 2013, and is thus one of only six German universities being funded for both a thematic network and a strategic partnership. The program is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.