Research Programme 'Culture and Foreign Policy'

In ifa’s Research Programme 'Culture and Foreign Policy', experts research on current issues of foreign cultural and educational policy. The Research Programme sets topics and develops recommendations for the strengthening and further development of international cultural relations. The research results are reflected in expert discussions, at international conferences and in public discussions and published in the series ifa Edition Culture and Foreign Policy as well as the impulse papers ifa-Inputs.


ifa operates as a competence centre and offers actors from the field of foreign cultural and educational policy unique consulting services. Previous projects have included, for example, theme years and questions on European foreign cultural policy, religions’ responsibility for peace and their role in foreign policy. ifa also counsels on foreign policy communication strategies as well as on the freedom of analogue and digital spaces in times of increasing restrictions on civil society spaces of action.

Central Topics Are:

  • Europe
  • AKBP terms of contention
  • Civil society spaces of action
  • International cultural education
  • Art and culture exchange


Those interested are welcome to apply for research assignments. All applications offered by ifa are updated regularly and can be found on the website under Jobs and Careers.

Current Projects

German-Russian Cultural Relations: Current Challenges, Topics and Formats

The project presents the current challenges of German-Russian cultural relations from the perspective of Russian civil society actors. What are their interests and needs? Which measures, formats and topics help to facilitate dialogue and exchange, for example, in order to better understand the other’s blind spots and sensitivities? Based on interviews with Russian actors and experts, the project draws up recommendations for action.

  • Evgeniya Sayko


    Dr Evgeniya Sayko (Phd in Cultural Studies) researches ways for establishing German-Russian dialogue at the interface of analysis and practice. Among other things, she developed the demoSlam dialogue format as part of her project “Value discourse with Russia” and co-founded the Magnet-Lab for Mutual Understanding.




The Order of Diversity. Remembering the Recruiting Agreement between Germany and Turkey

The recruitment agreement with Turkey in 1961 brought about cultural change in Germany in many ways. The study focuses on cultural-scientific aspects of history, the reception and the preservation of knowledge and stands for cultural-scientific research that reads and tries to reconstruct current questions and needs from the perspective of migrants themselves.

  • Nasrin Tanç


    Nesrin Tanç works as a freelance cultural and literary scholar, consultant, author and finished her doctoral thesis at the Institute for Turkish Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen on the topic of the cultural and literary heritage of immigrants from Turkey in the Ruhr area. Her research focuses on the culture and literature of the immigrant society.




Educational Biographies Connected to Germany Through PASCH Initiatives in Brasil, Egypt and Bulgaria

The PASCH initiative (founded in 2008) has established itself as a successful programme within Germany's foreign cultural policy. There are now around 2.000 schools worldwide that are supported by the PASCH initiative. This research project investigates whether and how PASCH alumni from Brazil, Egypt and Bulgaria remain connected to Germany and the influence an attendance at a PASCH school or other offers related to the PASCH network had on this connection.

  • Michael Schart, Stefan Baumbach


    Prof. Dr Michael Schart is Associate Professor at Keio University Tokyo in the field of German Studies. He is currently the acting Chair of Methodology and Didactics of German as a Foreign and Second Language at Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

    Stefan Baumbach is a research associate at the Institute for German as a Foreign and Second Language and Intercultural Studies at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. His work focuses on Germany's foreign cultural policy, German schools abroad as well as teacher training.




Biennials as Gauges

Biennials are a platform for dialogue on current cultural relations and contribute significantly to a decentralisation of the art world. The contextuality of the respective biennial plays a major role with its specific geopolitical framework, organisational forms, funding structures and local actors. The project centres primarily on recently founded biennials of the so-called 'Global South' – with a focus on the African continent – in order to identify current trends as well as potentials for foreign cultural and educational policy and for international cooperation.

  • Melanie Vietmeier


    Dr Melanie Vietmeier is an independent art historian and curator. She was recently a member of the research and exhibition project 'museum global. Microhistories of an Ex-centric Modernism' (Kunstsammlung NRW). Her research interests focus on transcultural networks between Africa, Latin America and Europe in modern and contemporary art.


The Role of Religious Groups during the COVID-19 pandemic

Religious communities play an important role in the COVID-19 pandemic because they can either develop a binding force or offer a significant potential for conflict. The mixed methods project, which compares countries and organisations, examines how religious communities perceive the pandemic and its social consequences, how they deal with it and what role inter-religious initiatives, secular organisations and civil society actors play during the pandemic.

  • Alexander Yendell, Oliver Hidalgo, Carolin Hillenbrand


    Dr Alexander Yendell is a sociologist at the Leipzig Research Institute Social Cohesion with a research focus on religious plurality, prejudices and right-wing extremism. He is spokesman for the Sociology of Religion section of the German Sociological Association and on the board of the Leipzig Centre for the study of right-wing Extremism and Democracy.

    Prof  Dr Oliver Hidalgo is a political scientist at the University of Münster and speaker of the working group “Politics and Religion” of the German Political Science Association (DVPW). The relationship between religion and politics is one of his main areas of research, along with political theory, the history of ideas and the theory of democracy.

    Carolin Hillenbrand is a research assistant and doctoral candidate at the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the University of Münster. The title of her doctoral thesis is: “Religion, a bridge or barrier? – The role of religion in social cohesion from an empirical-comparative perspective.”


FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Can One Find Out about Current Calls for Applications?


    All grants and research assignments offered by ifa are updated regularly and can be found on the website under Jobs and Careers. All of the important information about the application process can be found in each application call.


  • Is an Application with its Own Topic Possible?


    No, unfortunately not. All grants and research assignments are tied to topics specified by ifa.


  • What Are the Requirements?


    Typically, the minimum requirement is a university education with a master’s degree. Further prerequisites can be found in the application posting on the website under Jobs and Careers.


  • What Is the Difference between a Grant and Research Assignments?


    In the framework of a grant, ifa supplies a current monthly allowance of 1,500 euros for scientific work. This funding is tax-free. The grant holder must pay for his or her own health insurance. The funding is bound to the acceptance of the grant guidelines which are agreed upon before the project is awarded. During the grant period, the grant holder may not receive additional funding or be employed.
    On the other hand, when accepting a research assignments, the research assignment recipient and ifa sign a project contract agreement. The research assignment recipient is responsible for tax treatment.


  • Can the Research Programme also Assign Commissions to Universities or only to Individuals?


    Yes, it is possible for universities and tax-privileged institutions to receive assignments.


  • Are the Projects Usually More Research-Oriented or Practice-Oriented?


    The implementation of the research is the priority. The current scientific findings should be worked out in a concise, precise and practical way for those involved in foreign cultural and educational policy.


  • What Formats Are Being Developed?


    Typically, the results of the research are published in a study, in print or on the internet. Often one of the agreed requirements is to conceive and implement an event, for example, a conference, colloquium or panel discussion.


  • In Which Language Are the Projects Carried Out?


    This depends on the focus of the project. Typically, the projects are carried out in English or German.


  • Is a Workspace Provided?


    It is generally assumed that every researcher has the necessary basic equipment such as a PC or laptop in order to work on their respective project. ifa has temporary workstations with PCs that can be used by the hour or by the day as well, for example, as part of research in the ifa Library in Stuttgart. While implementing the projects, ifa may work in part with partner institutions. If this is the case, the partner organisations usually provide a workspace during the project period. In this case, the research commission recipient must be prepared to stay, for example, in Brussels or Bonn for the duration of the project.



Anniversary Brochure

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of ifa's Research Programme 'Culture and Foreign Policy' as well as the 20th anniversary of the ifa Research Award on Foreign Cultural Policy both have compiled an anniversary brochure together for ifa's Competence Centre.

Free Download 'Anniversary Brochure Competence Centre'


Sarah Widmaier

Wissenschaftliche Koordinatorin des Forschungsprogramms "Kultur und Außenpolitik"

Charlottenplatz 17
D-70173 Stuttgart

Telephone: +49.711.2225.214