Social Sciences and Humanities

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German and Israeli partners cooperate closely in the field of social sciences and humanities research. The cooperation portfolio is extensive. Both sides are also very interested in studying the history, culture and society of the other country.

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) contributes significantly to the intensive research relations in the social sciences and humanities. Partners from both Germany and Israel can benefit from BMBF support in bilateral bottom-up programmes and in the framework programmes for the promotion of internationally oriented, transdisciplinary cultural and social sciences, and humanities.

Universities and research institutions in both countries furthermore cooperate in numerous social sciences and humanities projects. At the same time, German-Jewish and German-Israeli relations are topics of mutual scientific interest. Institutes in both countries devote themselves specifically to studying the other country. Research topics range from their common cultural and intellectual roots to the National Socialist genocide and the culture of remembrance to analysing each other’s state and society of today.

With the Martin Buber Society Foundation Fund, the BMBF established a funding instrument in 2010 that is exclusively dedicated to German-Israeli cooperation in the social sciences and humanities. Every year, five German and five Israeli postdocs are selected to conduct joint research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on any topic in the social sciences and humanities.

The Minerva Centers, which are co-financed by the BMBF and the Israeli scientific host institutions, include important research institutions in the field of the social sciences and humanities. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is home to the Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History, the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center for German Jewish Literature and Cultural History, and the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law. The Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University integrates approaches to modern social phenomena from cultural studies, political science, media studies and religious studies in its explicitly interdisciplinary profile. The Minerva Institute for German History and the Wiener Holocaust Library are also located at this university. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the German-Israeli relations in 2015, a further research centre was dedicated to the humanities, the Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times. It is run jointly by Bar Ilan University and the University of Leipzig.

Social sciences and humanities projects are also funded through the two other major programmes for German-Israeli cooperation financed by the BMBF, the German-Israeli Project Cooperation and the German Israeli Foundation.

Since 2007, the BMBF has supported the Käte Hamburger International Centres. The Käte Hamburger Kolleg Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum studies interreligious interactions and intrareligious developments. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is one of the project partners. Under the umbrella of the Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentren Berlin, which are funded by the State of Berlin and the BMBF, the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung in particular maintains close contacts with Israel. Its institutional cooperation partners include the Minerva Humanities Center (Tel Aviv University) and the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

2007 also saw the establishment of the DAAD Centres for German Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and for German and European Studies at the University of Haifa.
From 2015 – the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel – until 2017, the project “German-Israeli relationships in the humanities between 1970 and 2000: studies on science and bilateralism” was funded, a collaboration between the Fritz Bauer Institute, the Rosenzweig Center and the van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

In addition, the BMBF funded a trilateral PhD programme for Israeli, Palestinian and German students, the European Wasatia Graduate School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Flensburg University, with approximately 150,000 euros from 2020 until 2023.