Maria Sibylla Merian Centres

Whether in India, Mexico, Brazil or Ghana, the "Maria Sibylla Merian Centres for Advanced Studies" facilitate research in the humanities and social sciences in long-term, transnational working contexts.

Weltkarte mit den 4 Standorten der Merian Centres; © BMBF / Friedrich Pleul

Merian Centres in India,Mexico, Brazil, Ghana

BMBF / Friedrich Pleul

Via the centres named after the naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1714), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) promotes the internationalisation of the humanities and social sciences. With a duration of up to twelve years, they lay the foundation for close cooperation in and with the respective regions and the promotion of young academics. In the international research centres, which are established in regions and partner countries which are important in terms of academic study and academic policy in Asia, Latin America and Africa, academics from Germany, the host country and, in some cases, other countries in the region, investigate a topic of their own choosing, such as sustainable governance or social inequality. For details see the overview of Merian Centres at (German-language).

CALAS - Center for Advanced Latin American Studies

One of the collaborative projects funded by the BMBF is CALAS (Center for Advanced Latin American Studies) with its headquarters in Guadalajara, Mexico. The key question here is how societies in Latin America solve crises, whether they are political unrest, the gap between rich and poor, the deforestation of the Amazon forests or the threat of a wall between the USA and Mexico. The college, which was established by German and Latin American universities under the coordination of the University of Bielefeld, entered its main phase in 2019 after a successful interim evaluation, funded by the BMBF with 12 million euros.

As early as in the preliminary phase, a Spanish-language series of essays and a publishing network among Latin American partners were established under Bielefeld's direction in cooperation with the Bielefeld University Press. Both will be continued and further developed in the main phase.  The central research element of CALAS is an international fellowship program. "After the two-year preliminary phase, we are now bringing together up to 25 international fellows at the Center for Advanced Studies in alternating formats, which are intended to promote dialogue and exchange. The researchers come from different regions, from different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, and are at different career levels. This is what makes interdisciplinary teamwork so attractive," says historian Professor Dr. Olaf Kaltmeier, Director of the Latin America Institute CALAS. The research teams there approach social crises from four perspectives: "Social-Ecological Transformation", "Social Inequalities", "Violence and Conflict Resolution" and "Identity and Region".

International research centres

Further international research centres are located in India, Brazil and Ghana. The call for proposals for a research college in North Africa, Jordan or Lebanon (German-language) has been running since 2019. The international research centres open up new, intercultural perspectives and help to better understand social developments and to develop approaches for the solution of social challenges.


The four currently operating Merian Centres

M.S. Merian-R. Tagore Centre, Delhi, India
M.S. Merian-R. Tagore International Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences: Metamorphoses of the Political

Merian Centre, Guadalajara, Mexico
Merian Sibylla Merian Centre for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CALAS): Coping with Crises: Transdisciplinary Perspectives from Latin America

Merian Centre, São Paulo, Brazil
Maria Sibylla Merian Centre Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America  (Mecila)

Merian Centre, Accra, Ghana
Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences Africa (MIASA): Sustainable Governance. Environment, Democracy and Conflict Management