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Research Clusters in the Excellence Strategy

Clusters of Excellence are an important part of the German government’s Excellence Strategy. In these research clusters, scholars and scientists from various disciplines work together on a major project. Doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers play an important role, which gives them opportunities to gain experience and further their career development. In order to solve the complex research issues, non-university research institutions and other cooperation partners around the world are usually involved.

As large collaborative research projects, the clusters are intended to help further strengthen particularly research-intensive and internationally competitive areas of universities. For example, Freie Universität Berlin, with its outstanding humanities and social sciences departments, was the only university to win funding in the Excellence Strategy for a cluster in literary studies, Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective. The involved scholars investigate the effects of literature across time and space and in different media and art forms. The cluster SCRIPTS – Contestations of the Liberal Script, with its focus on the current debates about liberalism, bundles the expertise at Freie Universität in the social sciences as well as the diversity of area studies.

MATH+, the Berlin Mathematics Research Center, is a joint project of the three major universities in Berlin – Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität, and Technische Universität Berlin. It sets out to explore and further develop new approaches in application-oriented mathematics, whereby the spectrum ranges from the analysis of social processes to individualized medicine. Both Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität are involved in the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, which is based at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, their joint medical school. Devoted to research in the neurosciences, with a strong focus on the translation of research findings to clinical applications, NeuroCure is setting new accents following two successful periods of funding under the Excellence Initiative, the German government’s predecessor program of the Excellence Strategy. The Clusters of Excellence are being funded for at least seven years beginning in January 2019 with up to ten million euros annually for each.

Numerous events are hosted by the clusters, both for researchers as well as for other interested persons. The clusters at Freie Universität Berlin cooperate with cultural institutions as well as political and social organizations in Berlin and also have international ties. They post calls for scholarships and grants to implement their respective research agendas. Details can be found on the websites of the clusters.

Overview of the Clusters


The Berlin Mathematics Research Center


New perspectives in therapies for neurological disorders


Global challenges to liberal democracies as a model of order

Temporal Communities

Literature across time and space