Research Programme Martin Roth Initiative

What effect do international protection programmes have? How can civil society’s scope of action be shaped? In the Research Programme Martin Roth Initiative (MRI) experts conduct research on current issues in the field of foreign cultural and educational policy. Therefore ifa awards three to six-month grants and research assignments to scientists and cultural activists from the areas of art, culture, policy and media. The results are published in studies and discussion papers (for links see below).

In 2018 ifa and the Goethe-Institut initiated the Martin Roth Initiative. The joint project sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office supports artists and cultural activists as well as civil society actors by facilitating temporary protection stays in Germany and secure third countries. 

Topics and Programme Points

The programme scope Research accompanies the protection programme of the Martin Roth Initiative (MRI). Through ongoing and accompanying research, it is intended to open up the, thus far, under-researched field of protection programmes and to contribute to documenting the impact of protection programmes.

In particular, the intention is to gain insights on the effects and working methods of international protection programmes and their parameters. In this context, it should not only be possible to network with other programmes but the cooperation between them should also be improved while critically examining different working methods. In this way, the goal is to create resilient impact measures and to foster general improvements in the area of project orientation.

Central Topic

  • Civil society spaces of action

Important Programme Points

  • Practice-oriented research
  • Documentation and information
  • Ongoing and accompanying evaluations
  • International networking


Interested scholars and practitioners from the academic, artistic or other sectors are welcome to apply for freelance research assignments. All calls for proposals by the Martin Roth-Initiative are published under 'Current Research Projects' on the ifa website Jobs and Careers.

Current Projects

Towards a fairer and more anti-discriminatory support for international relocation in North-South contexts

International shelter and relocation programmes advocate for the freedom of expression and aim to support civil society actors, such as artists, journalists or human rights defenders. However, they do not act outside of global and historically shaped power asymmetries and patterns of inequality. While they seek to empower participants in and from different parts of the world, there are limits to the possibility of “eye-level” support and partnership, especially between actors from the Global North vs. South and from state institutions vs. civil society. How can the work and design of mobility, shelter, and relocation programmes be more sensitive to these challenges and make support, protection and cooperation as empowering and fair as possible? With the help of a short research project, the Martin Roth-Initiative would like to gain insights into these subjects and provide impetus for future learning.

  • Realisation: Rana Yazaji and Marion Schmidt


    Rana Yazaji is a researcher, trainer and cultural manager. She is currently the co-director of “Arts and International Cooperation” at Zurich University of the Arts. She bases her work on the combination of research and cultural practices focusing on three interconnected levels: creative initiatives, institutional building and policy discussions.

    Marion Schmidt is a consultant and cultural manager. She is currently co-director of the Documentary Association of Europe, advisor to DW Akademie and regularly works with international arts, culture and development organisations. She believes in the need for structural change and in her cultural practice strives to create spaces where critical interaction is possible.


Current Publications

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

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


    All grants and research commissions 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 are given in each application.


  • 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 assignment, the research assignments recipient and ifa sign a project contract agreement. The research assignments 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 commissions.


  • 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 concisely and precisely for those involved in foreign cultural and educational policy, and recommendations for future foreign cultural policy measures should be formulated.


  • 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 assignment recipient must be prepared to stay, for example, in Brussels or Bonn for the duration of the project.



Dr Lisa Bogerts

Scientific Coordinator of the Martin Roth-Initiative Research Programme

Linienstraße 139/140
D-10115 Berlin

Telephone: +49.173.2745988