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Innovation area overview: Humanities

Society, language and culture – the humanities cover many topics that affect our daily lives. In Germany, the humanities comprise 96 subjects in 17 fields of study ranging from African Studies to Central Asian languages and cultures. Indeed, a special feature of Berlin universities is their expertise in an extraordinary spectrum of these so-called “small subjects.” 

Excellency and Diversity

At the head of the list is Berlin’s largest university, the Freie Universität or “FU,” which offers a unique level of excellence and diversity particularly in the field of the humanities. The Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies, the Graduate School of North American Studies and the Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Societies are graduate schools that have been recognized as part of the so-called “Excellence Initiative” launched by Germany’s federal and state governments. Three graduate schools and two “clusters of excellence” in the humanities have received distinction as part of the initiative – a status that is unique throughout Germany.

Flagship: Modern Islamic Studies

In the field of non-university research, the Centers for Advanced Study in the Humanities Berlin (GWZ) – which comprises the Center for General Linguistics (ZAS), the Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZFL) and the Center for Modern Oriental Studies (ZMO) – is one of the capital city’s foremost showpieces. The Center for Modern Oriental Studies, which operates in cooperation with Berlin universities, is considered a flagship in the field of modern Islamic Studies. It is the only research facility in Germany devoted to an interdisciplinary and comparative study of the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia form an historical perspective.