Current projects


On Humboldt's tracks: Cultural relations with Latin America

On the occasion of the Humboldt anniversary in 2019 this study examines Humboldt's potential for German foreign cultural and educational policy, as well as opportunities and challenges for a thematic season in Latin America. It is undisputed that even today this Prussian scholar is of great importance for international cultural and scientific relations between Germany and the countries of his expedition – Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico. However, the question is what projects and event formats are most suitable for which countries, and where there is a need for communication. On the one hand, a look at the historical context of his voyage of exploration should contribute to a better understanding of its significance in the contemporary framework; and, on the other, explain the reasons for the specific reception of Humboldt in each country, so that the organisation of activities can be adapted to these regional differences.

Portrait of Sandra Rebok

Dr. Sandra Rebok is a science historian and worked at the History Institute of the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid for many years. Currently she is an independent scholar and her research in Spain, Germany and the United States focuses on scholarly networks, the globalisation of knowledge and transnational scientific collaborations during the nineteenth century. She has over twenty years of experience in Alexander von Humboldt scholarship; she is the author of several books and numerous articles on Humboldt, and the editor of three of his works in Spanish. In addition, she has many years of experience in the field of science communication and, in particular, in curating exhibitions.

An international comparison of interfaces of arts education and intercultural education

Using a selection of examples, the study examines the diversity of cultural and educational concepts with regard to the interface of “intercultural education” and "arts education". It explores possible descriptions of the interaction of 'cultures' and their relevance for arts education. The question to what extent there are approaches which are conditioned by regional origin or political systems, or whether there are universally relevant approaches, gives rise to a mapping which primarily considers non-formal education, while focusing on the special significance of international educational cooperation. Criteria for the evaluation and development of projects as well as recommendations for implementation will be derived from the assessment of selected projects.
This research project is funded by Stiftung Mercator.

Dr Ernst Wagner is lecturer and researcher at the UNESCO-Chair in Arts Education at the University of Erlangen. He studied art and taught at secondary schools. He worked at the Institute for School Quality, Munich (responsible for art, film and drama education) and graduated with a PhD in art history at LMU. His research focuses on Visual Literacy, Competences, Arts Education and Education for Sustainable Development/Heritage Education/Intercultural Communication/Global Citizenship Education - in the context of UNESCO. He is honorary professor at the Hong Kong University of Education.

Intangible Cultural Heritage under Pressure

Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is increasingly subjected to social, economic and political pressures that endanger its existence. Increasing migration, political change and repressive regimes add to the panoply of considerable challenges for protecting ICH. Of particular concern are vulnerable populations, including indigenous peoples and minorities, who could be considered ‘under-resourced’ in the light of post-colonialist agendas that prevent (collective) cultural self-determination from flourishing. New protective measures are thus required to ensure ICH will be able to be maintained, protected and further developed in the light of intergenerational relations. Regional organisations such as the EU play an important role in establishing and observing adherence to safeguarding standards in the ICH context.

Dr Jessika Eichler is an interdisciplinary human rights researcher and advisor. She focusses on indigenous peoples’ and minorities’ rights in the international development context and draws on extensive field experience in Europe and Latin America. While Jessika has a strong academic background, she has also gained experience with a wide range of institutions, including NGOs, the Federal German Foreign Office, Goethe-Institut and GIZ. This enabled her to advance a policy-oriented approach in her work and understand local situations shaped by international legal and socio-political developments.
Contact: jessika.eichler(at) 

Non-Abrahamic Religions: Their Position in Society and Their Responsibility for Peacebuilding

The focus of this survey is on the two main non-Abrahamic world religions in Asia: Buddhism and Hindu reform movements. The study will outline the characteristics, tasks and methods of religious actors in conflict management. It will describe the peacebuilding potential of these religions, the conflict zones where they are involved, and the potential for conflict that is also inherent in these religions. It will study religious (faith-based) actors as role models for the peacebuilding potential of these religions, look at the faith, inter-faith and secular organisations that are involved in peace policy and identify potential partners for German foreign policy.

Dr Martin Bauschke, a religious scholar and theologian, worked as Vicar and Pastor of the Protestant Regional Church in Württemberg. He completed a PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Jena and was in charge of the Berlin office of the Global Ethic Foundation (Stiftung Weltethos). He is founding member of the Abrahamic Forum of the Intercultural Council in Darmstadt. For many years, he has been involved in intercultural/interfaith dialogue, education and advanced educational training in religious studies and ethics. 
Contact: martin.bauschke(at) 

Religion and German Foreign Policy

Religion plays a key role in many of the international crises and conflicts that beset today’s globalised world. However, religious communities are also actively working for global peace, justice and solidarity. The Religion and German Foreign Policy research project compares the current institutions, initiatives and priorities of international organisations, the United States and governments of selected European countries to see how they are approaching religious matters in their foreign policy and external relations. The study investigates the options for working with religious communities on peace issues.

Dr. Peter Bender; photo: private

Dr Peter Bender, a political scientist and catholic theologian, has been working in religion and international relations for more than 20 years – in academia, research, journalism, interfaith dialogue, and politics. After completing his studies in Freiburg (Germany), France, the US, Mexico, and Brazil he has worked at the European Parliament in Brussels, as a journalist for a Brussels news agency, as a university lecturer on EU-Muslim world relations and as a political advisor on religious affairs at the national headquarters of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Berlin.
Contact: peter.bender(at)

Resilience Strategies as a Response to Nationalists as Actors of Foreign Cultural Policy

This project looks at the recent rise of populism in selected European countries and its impact on the international interactions of, and cultural diplomacy of, Europe. Specifically it will do four things: (i) Examine the manner in which populism’s identity politics spills over into international relations and foreign policy testing commitments to globalisation and the continuing viability of the liberal international order of the last 70 years. (ii) It will map the international networks connecting populist organisations. (iii) It will analyse populism’s impact on policy; especially its push for nationalism and bilateralism at the international level at the expense of multilateral, institutional collective action problem solving. (iv) Finally it examines strategies to mitigate these trends at both the national and European level through an analysis of EU policy to enhance greater global engagement via cultural diplomacy.

Prof Richard Higgott, PhD, FRSA, FAcSS is Research Professor, Institute of European Studies and Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy, Vesalius College at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy, University of Warwick where he founded the Centre for Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation and was Pro Vice Chancellor for Research. Author/editor of 20+ books and 150 peer reviewed papers in major journals like International Organisation, Political Science Quarterly, International Political Science Review, International Affairs, Politque Etrangere and Aussen Politik and the Review of International Political Economy.

The Role of Culture in a Divided Europe

The rise of populist, extremist and Eurosceptic parties within the European Union places the latter in danger. This project considers to what extent the cultural sector can play a role in countering this internal threat to the European project and identifies cultural policies at EU level that could respond to it. Doing so requires not only understanding the increasing success of such inward-looking actors, i.e. their agendas and strategies, but also identifying the renewed position that the sector may take in this context. Specifically, the project develops possible scenarios regarding new forms of cultural cooperation in Europe.

Mafalda Dâmaso is a consultant and researcher specialised in the intersection of culture and international affairs. She has recently submitted a Ph.D. examining the visual rhetoric of the United Nations at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is developing comparative research on cultural policy in the European Union. Dâmaso has consulted and worked in the cultural sector and in the creative industries in several European countries, including in think tanks, as a lecturer in higher and further education, and in the public and the private sectors.
Contact: mafalda.damaso(at) 

Synergies in Foreign Cultural Policy in Germany with a Special Focus on Local Authorities

In an increasingly globalised world, the lines between international and domestic issues are blurring and it has become important to approach them in a joined-up way. This project aims to involve local authorities even more closely in drawing up foreign cultural and educational policy  (FCEP) and to deepen the dialogue between local and external cultural policymakers. Firstly, this project analyses existing FCEP programmes and compiles the knowledge that has been gained for the benefit of the municipal authorities; secondly it maps the transnational cultural activities of 20 selected municipalities, and thirdly it will present and discuss its findings at the 9th national conference on cultural policy, to be held in Berlin in June 2017.

Ulrike Blumenreich (Institute for Cultural Policy)

Creative Industries International

Around the world and in the EU, the creative industries are considered to be a growth driver and jobs creator. Culture and creativity are also strategic soft power resources that are increasingly laying a vital foundation for building international relations and developing foreign cultural and educational policy and diplomacy. The project tackles the following questions: In what ways are the creative industries in selected countries (Canada, UK, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Austria) an element of foreign cultural and educational policy and/or foreign trade policy? How are these countries funding the internationalisation of their domestic creative industries around the world? What are the key goals, target groups and forms of funding for promoting domestic creative industries around the world as part of the foreign cultural and educational policy of these countries? What are the main goals, target groups and forms of funding for promoting domestic creative industries as part of the foreign cultural and educational policy of the countries studied?This comparison is then used to draw initial conclusions about potential ways of internationalising Germany's cultural and creative industries as part of its foreign cultural and educational policy. The results also include an initial list of possibilities for internationalisation processes and international cooperation from the perspective of Germany's amended federal structure for the cultural and creative industries.

Bastian Lange; photo: private

Dr Bastian Lange is an urban and economic geographer. For more than 20 years, he has been researching and publishing questions about the emergence of new places and the transformation of markets and types of actors within the culture and creative industries. He supports and advises municipalities, federal states, ministries and the European Commission on participatory methods for the implementation of sustainable development perspectives for cities, regions, new markets and internationalisation processes.
Contact: bastian.lange(at)

The Impact of Brexit on International Cultural Relations in the European Union

The vote by the population of the Uk to leave the European Union in June 2016, known as Brexit, was an unexpected decision which has major implications for cultural relations. The Brexit vote took place against a background of rising support for nationalisms (of various sorts) and other populist movements. The Brexit also threatens the unity of the kingdom, and it has been welcomed by right-wing leaders across Europe as an inspiration to them in their campaigns against membership of the EU, and against open, multicultural, societies. This background poses challenges to the very idea of cultural relations as countries revert to the pursuit of national interest. Which consequences will Brexit have for cultural cooperation? Which consequences are actual, which are only potential? How can Germany’s foreign cultural policy react at the initial stage of this process? How can intercultural exchange be secured with a long-term perspective despite Brexit? This project will develop possible scenarios and the corresponding options for action. 

Stuart MacDonald is a specialist in international cultural relations. He founded the Centre for Cultural Relations at the University of Edinburgh to develop both the theory and practice of cultural relations through an innovative, interdisciplinary, approach to research, study and knowledge exchange. He has conducted numerous consultancy research projects on cultural relations for the EU, the UK and Scottish Governments. He has developed cultural exchange programmes in China, the USA, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy. He served as a senior civil servant in the UK and Scottish Governments on cultural, constitutional and educational policy, and as Head of Arts in the Scottish Arts Council. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and is currently advising Universities in Germany and the UK on their EU strategies.
Contact: stuart.macdonald(at) 

Culture as a Strategic Factor: the Example of India

Bearing in mind the significance of 'cultural intelligence' for Germany's foreign cultural and educational policy, the study looks at social and cultural ideas that are currently important in Indian politics and society. The focus of the study is on the efficacy of Indian schools of thought and ideology for society and politics, India's (new) cultural diplomacy and new, general trends that are emerging in India's civil society.

Arndt Michael; photo: private

Dr Arndt Michael is a political scientist and coordinator of the Colloquium Politicum programme at the University of Freiburg. Since 2004 he has lectured and conducted research on Indian Foreign and Security Policy and regional cooperation in South Asia. His published works include the multi-award winning book India’s Foreign Policy and Regional Multilateralism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), the edited volume Indien Verstehen (together with MM Baumann, VS Springer, 2016) and a number of articles in academic journals such as India Quarterly, India Review and Harvard Asia Quarterly.
Contact: arndt.michael(at)

Post-colonial Curatorial Challenges at the Interface Between Ethnological Museums and Art

In light of the current debate concerning the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, the study will examine pivotal challenges posed to ethnological museums from a post-colonial perspective. The approach of post-colonial criticism does not involve the appropriation and subjection of bodies and objects of 'the other', but the epistemological concepts on which the institution of the 'museum' is founded. How, when analysing the colonial past, is it possible to shape dialogue processes among equals with the 'source communities' of the objects?  What – in view of the crisis of representing foreign cultures – is the achievement of artistic practices at the interface of science? Best practice examples will serve to formulate recommendations for cultural policy.

Regina Wonisch; photo: private

Regina Wonisch M.A. is a historian, museologist and freelance exhibition curator. She lives and works in Vienna. She works at the Institute of Science Communication and Higher Education Research at the Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt (based in Vienna) and is head of the Research Centre for Historic Minorities, Vienna.

Perceptions of Germany’s Commitment to Fighting the Causes of Migration and Forced Displacement

The project focuses on German development cooperation in the context of migration and examines it with reference to the source countries and transit countries of migrants and refugees. Every year, thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa die trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach the European Union. Against this backdrop, the project analyses whether bilateral cooperation projects in source and transit countries reach their target groups and whether they address the needs of people on the ground. To this end, qualitative case studies are conducted in three African countries (Kenya, Guinea and Mali). 

Dr Anke Fiedler has been a freelance consultant with MiCT since 2009 and her main tasks revolve around the research, design, monitoring and evaluation of  MiCT projects.  Fiedler studied communication, sociology and psychology at the Universities of Munich and Paris and in 2012, she completed her doctorate. Fiedler worked on projects at UNESCO in Paris, in Bujumbura and in Amman. She was also a researcher at the University of Munich and the University of Brussels.

Consequences of the US-Election on Cultural Relations

The first days of the Trump presidency have already indicated that the next four to eight years are likely to be a testing time for transatlantic relations. Germany and Europe are facing a high degree of uncertainty about what the transition to the new administration might mean for the future of diplomatic dialogue and cultural exchange. This project investigates the possible implications of the recent US presidential elections for cultural relations between the US and Germany. It aims to provide an overview of existing modes of public diplomacy and exchange, while taking into account possible scenarios for future developments. The goal is to produce a comprehensive study that provides an overview of relevant institutional actors, a means of predicting what lies ahead  and practical recommendations for German foreign policy initiatives. 

Curd Knüpfer holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and currently works as a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at the John F. Kennedy Institute (JFKI) at the Freie Universität Berlin. He completed his doctoral research on right-wing media coverage of US foreign policy at the JFKI’s Department of Political Science in early 2015. His main areas of academic interest lie in political communication and US foreign policy, with a focus on the dynamics of media fragmentation and political polarisation. His post-doctoral research projects focus on the political implications of changing media environments and the transnational spread of frame competition.