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.”