International research network seeks answers to crises in Latin America
The University of Kassel and partners coordinate one of the most extensive research projects on Latin America funded by Germany. The focus is on dealing with social, political and ecological crises.
Nowadays, Latin America again appears in the media frequently, be it because of the political unrest in Venezuela, the numerous victims of a negligent dam failure in Brazil or the threat of a wall between the US and Mexico. Such phenomena make us forget that Latin America often develops creative solutions that also provide important stimuli for Europe. How do crises develop in Latin America and how are they resolved? Based on this question, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the collaborative project CALAS with 12 million euros over the next six years. The University of Kassel coordinates the „Maria Sibylla Merian Centre for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences“ (CALAS), based at the University of Guadalajara (Mexico), together with the University of Bielefeld.
It is one of the most extensive research projects on Latin America funded by Germany. On the German side, the universities of Kassel, Bielefeld, Hannover and Jena are involved. In Latin America, besides the University of Guadalajara, the regional partners are San José (Costa Rica), Quito (Ecuador) and Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Research is conducted in the four clusters „Social-ecological transformation“, „Social inequalities“, „Violence and conflict resolution“ and „Identity“. Within the research network, the University of Kassel coordinates, among other things, a comprehensive research program on issues of social inequality in the areas of elite research, inequality and education and social-ecological inequalities; it does research on the future of work and develops sustainable development learning modules with Argentine and Cuban partners.
The focus of the CALAS is on solution strategies for socio-political crises, emphasizes Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Burchardt, Head of the unit International and Intersocietal Relations in Kassel and one of the two German directors of CALAS: „Like no other region of the Global South, Latin America is characterized by the creative search for cultural and political strategies of coping with multiple challenges that accompany the social change and show new development paths. We want to examine these and determine what we can learn from them. The focus is on scientific exchange with colleagues – we want to research with them, not about them. Every year, we bring together up to 25 international fellows, carry out numerous events at all locations and are already looking forward to the visits of many visiting scientists at our university and in our beautiful city.“
Burchardt continues: „I am convinced that the CALAS will turn out to be one of the most important European research networks with Latin America within the next five years, and I am pleased that Kassel and thus our province Hesse work to resolve the problems that will determine the future of humanity – in the sense of more social justice and more sustainable development.“
The President of the University of Kassel, Prof. Dr. Reiner Finkeldey, congratulated Prof. Burchardt and the entire CALAS team on the acquisition and positive evaluation of the project: „This research network makes an important contribution to the dialogue between North and South. The CALAS enhaces the reputation of the University of Kassel within the social science community of Latin America and the exchange in this project will also help the internationalization of our university. For this reason, the university supports the research network with the establishment of the Kasseler Lateinamerikazentrum CELA, which intends to link the international activities of CALAS with the city, the region and the whole of Hesse.“
Official start of the main phase of the CALAS is (today’s) 1st of March, 2019. From 2017 on, the network was already promoted in its development phase. In addition to the field of Prof. Burchardt, the University of Kassel is also involved through other units from social sciences, Romance studies and the Institute for Vocational Education and Training. Nearly 6 of the 12 million euro funding go to Kassel. The CALAS embeds itself in a network of partnerships that the University of Kassel maintains with Latin American universities. Just a few weeks ago, two new cooperation projects were launched with the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and the University of Havana (Cuba), thanks to which around ten students and professors are exchanged each year.
CALAS was approved within the BMBF funding line „Maria Sibylla Merian Centres“. With these research networks, the BMBF intends to promote the internationalization of the humanities, cultural and social sciences in Germany through close bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects at locations outside Germany. In 2017, CALAS was granted as the second center in Germany within this funding line.
For further information see (in German):
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Burchardt
Fachgebiet Internationale und intergesellschaftliche Beziehungen
Tel.: +49 561 804-3253
Kommunikation, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Tel.: +49 561 804-1961