MIASA News

Call for applications for fellowships in 2021

  • Individual Fellowships
  • Interdisciplinary Fellow Group (IFG)
  • Tandem Fellowships (German - West African)

MIASA offers various fellowship programmes for the year 2021, here you can find the corresponding calls.

Call for Applications for Individual Fellowships (Junior/ Senior) for the calendar year 2021

Call for Applications for an Interdisciplinary Fellow Group (IFG) for the calendar year 2021

Call for Applications for Tandem Fellowships (German - West African) for the calendar year 2021

MIASA is looking forward to receiving your applications.

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A hotspot for German-Ghanaian friendship: Freiburg welcomes a delegation from Accra

This week, Freiburg hosted a delegation from Accra, Ghana’s capital. Accompanied by representatives from education and economy, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra, visited not only fellow Mayor Martin Horn but also the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. The main reason for the visit was to further develop already-existing links between Freiburg and Accra and to strengthen the collaborations in the field of waste and water management, transportation, climate, economy, and science.

The foundation of the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) at the University of Ghana last year marked the beginning of an institutionalized academic exchange between Accra and Freiburg. Both the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute (ABI) under guidance of Andreas Mehler and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), represented by Bernd Kortmann, played a vital role at establishing the partner institute, whose major goal is among others to reduce global asymmetries in producing and distributing academic knowledge. Only last week, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) decided to support the institute for a period of six years with 12 Million Euros.

In the form of an official reception, which the town hall organized for the visitors from Accra on Tuesday, the partnership between Accra and Freiburg became also visible during the individual level. Dr. Annika Hampel, Freiburg coordinator of MIASA and executive director of the Africa Centre of the University of Freiburg, is impressed by the positive resonance to the initiatives to strengthen the German-African collaboration: “Freiburg is home to a variety of people, who are connected to Africa in one way or another, be it because of their profession or of their social engagement, be it because they are part of the local African community. To see them all united here reassures as in our efforts to further develop those ties.”

After the academic collaboration, other fields are to be developed, where fruitful coworking activities can be established. On Monday evening, Mayor Sowah and Mayor Horn signed a “Memorandum of Understanding”, that laid the foundation for further cooperation in science, education, and environmentalism. With this document, both cities commit themselves to implement sustainable development measures, for example, the promotion of climate protection or the formation of a lively startup-scene. Also, research projects that benefit from the close connection between ABI, FRIAS, and MIASA, are part of this agreement.

In a working meeting on Tuesday night, the delegation and their hosts at FRIAS discussed how future research projects can be initiated and what the role of the involved institutes is. After a presentation of Freiburg as a city of science by Professor Gunther Neuhaus, vice-rector and prorector for research and innovation, Professor Kortmann and Professor Mehler spoke about the activities and efforts that led to the foundation and confirmation of MIASA. It was emphasized that institutes such as MIASA, FRIAS, and ABI are not meant as a substitute for universities. According to both directors, the collaboration between research institutes and universities rather contributes to open up innovative and often interdisciplinary perspectives and offer new career opportunities for junior researchers. This comes with an essential side effect: In the long run, African research can more and more visibility, and in turn, finds its way into international research.

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Twelve million euros for international research college in Africa

After a successful evaluation by the BMBF, the "Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa" is entering the second funding period.

How can ecological restructuring, democracy and peace in Africa be realized sustainably? How can the voices of renowned opinion leaders be heard and innovative approaches from science and practice be seen on the continent? These are the goals of the Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA). In the one and a half years of its existence, the international research college has achieved impressive results, and following a successful assessment by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), MIASA will be entering its main phase from September 2020. The BMBF will be supporting the institute for the next six years with a total of nearly twelve million euros.

“It is our role as a university to build bridges for the worldwide exchange of knowledge and so meet our responsibility for political, social and cultural challenges,” says Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Rector of the University of Freiburg. The University of Freiburg with the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) and the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI) is responsible for developing and coordinating the institute at the University of Ghana.

“MIASA will be an anchor point for researchers from Germany, Africa and throughout the world to study the subject of sustainable governance. We want to make a significant contribution to the reduction in global asymmetries of knowledge,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Mehler, Director of the ABI and initiator of the college. MIASA offers suitable formats for shaping academic knowledge production globally, Mehler emphasizes. At the heart of the cooperation are interdisciplinary research groups. With this approach, scientists from all around the world work together on a thematic focus, such as migration narratives or the functioning of African parliaments. The results are presented and published at international conferences.

The Ghanaian director of MIASA, Prof. Abena D. Oduro, stresses, “MIASA will be an intellectual hub offering unprecedented opportunities for highly topical research relevant to Africa and career advancement of the most promising early career researchers on the continent. The unique intellectual traditions of our campus will have a strong impact on the way our fellows will address their research.”

MIASA also makes numerous tools available for spreading debates and the results of research to a wider public. Another focus of MIASA is the networking of players involved in science and practice. The Policy Fellow format, for instance, enables representatives from political and civil society organizations to visit the research college. Artists are also invited to follow the work of the research groups and create an imaginative and inspirational resonance space.

Background information

With the international research colleges of the Maria Sibylla Merian centers, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research aims to promote the internationalization of humanities, cultural and social sciences in Germany through close bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects at sites outside Germany. In regions and partner countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa that are important to academic and science policy, colleges are being created where a group of researchers from Germany and the host country will work jointly on humanities and social science issues and regularly invite fellows. The colleges are being set up and run in partner with German scientific institutions.

The main partners in this research cooperation are the University of Ghana and the University of Freiburg with FRIAS and ABI. In addition, the University of Frankfurt with the Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies (ZIAF) and the Point Sud network, the German Historical Institute Paris/Max Weber Foundation and the Institute of African Affairs of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg are involved.

Photo: The MIASA Executive Council, in the center: Andreas Mehler, project initiator and ABI director, to his right Abena D. Odoru, Ghanaian director of MIASA

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MIASA Annual Report 2018 - 2019

The MIASA Annual Report 2018-2019 is now available here.

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New paths to Africa - discussing a cooperation of MIASA and AGNES

On the 21st of October MIASA and FRIAS welcomed Professor Romain Glèlè Kakaī of the Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou (Benin), who currently serves as president of the African German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES). The network was founded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with the support of African Humboldtians, and has now more than 700 members. It aims at strengthening academic excellence on the African continent and increasing the visibility of African researchers among the international research community. With the help of the Federal Republic of Germany, AGNES promotes science, technology, and innovation through initiatives in research and academic education. FRIAS director and member of MIASA's executive board Professor Bernd Kortmann, Professor Andreas Mehler, director of the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute, and MIASA coordinator Dr. Annika Hampel discussed with Professor Romain Glèlè Kakaī how the AGNES network and the Maria Sybilla Meria Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) can work together to reach their common goals in the future, since also MIASA’s primary goal is to expand the impact of researches from sub-Saharan Africa in the humanities. With this focus, MIASA strives to reduce global asymmetries in the production and distribution of academic knowledge and to connect researchers from anglo- and francophone Africa. Especially these efforts to bridge different worlds of knowledge are shared by both organizations.

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MIASA hosts Interdisciplinary Fellow Groups (IFGs). The groups will convene for a period of four months, each group consisting of 8 to12 scholars who will collaborate on a pertinent and innovative research question linked to the Sustainable Governance topic:

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Guest at ABI: Doctoral students from the SDG Graduate Schools ‘Performing Sustainability’ presented their research

On 17th July, participants of the DAAD-funded SDG Graduate School 'Performing Sustainability - Cultures and Development in West-Africa' were guests at the ABI. During the two-day workshop, which also took place at Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), the doctoral students presented their research on migration, land conflicts and resistance to the Boko Haram group, located in Ghana and Nigeria, and discussed it together with the scientists of the ABI. The ABI doctoral students Michael Cobb and Erik Plänitz also presented their doctoral projects. The interdisciplinary Research Training Group is led by three universities: Maiduguri (Nigeria), Cape Coast (Ghana) and Hildesheim (Germany). All of the research projects in the program focus on innovative research that combines approaches from performance, art, and culture. The research results should contribute to sustainable development in the participating countries, as agreed in the goals (Sustainable Development Goals, SDG) of the United Nations (UN). A special focus is therefore placed on questions of peace and conflict resolution.

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Guest at ABI: Representative of STIAS South Africa

On Monday, 1 July 2019, the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute (ABI) welcomed visiting scholars from South Africa, namely the Director of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), Professor Edward K. Kirumira, and his colleague Christoff Pauw, Programme Manager at STIAS. Further visitors were the MIASA Director of Ghana, Professor Abena D. Oduro, and the MIASA Director of Germany, Professor Gordon Crawford (UK). Together with colleagues from the ABI, they discussed future options for cooperation between STIAS and MIASA. In the evening, the Rector of the University of Freiburg, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, welcomed our guests in Freiburg’s city center.