There are 20 interdisciplinary centers for German and European Studies worldwide. The first ones were established by the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, in 1991. These centers are located in: Canada (3), China, (1), France (1), Israel (2), Japan (1), South Korea (1), Netherlands (1), Poland (1), Russia (1), Great Britain (2) and the United States of America (6).
The official website of DAAD describes these centers as follows:
“In these multi-disciplinary centers, scientific research, contemporary politics and matters of interest to the general public, related to Germany and Europe, are brought together.” The centers are compared to Lighthouses which “serve the purpose for the younger generation to disseminate knowledge and expertise across Germany and Europe, and to ensure continued cooperation between Germany and its international partners.”
The first three centers were founded in the USA in 1991 at the universities of Harvard, Berkerley and Georgetown (Washington). Subsequently, another three centers were established in the USA at the universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin-Madison and Brandeis. Three centers were established in Canada at the universities of Toronto, York University in Toronto, and Montreal, and two in the United Kingdom, the universities of Cambridge and Birmingham. In the 2000s, through national proposals and political will other centers were established; the French center, located in Paris, involves 12 leading French universities, the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Central and Eastern Europe (Poland/Warsaw, Russia/ St. Petersburg). In addition to these, centers were also established in Asia, at the prestigious University of Todaí in Japan and the Peking University of China. In 2007, two centers followed in Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the University of Haifa. More recently, the center at the Chung-Ang University in South Korea was founded in 2013.
The Brazilian center, CDEA UFRGS-PUCRS in Porto Alegre, being the first in Latin America and the first in the southern hemisphere, is a very symbolic venture, which also seeks to reach all of Latin American. The Centers for German and European Studies are today a large network of researchers who deal with German and European disciplines in the field of humanities and interdisciplinary master´s degree programs, joint doctorates, summer courses and further training of post-docs. The center opens a possibility to all researchers and the public, which can benefit from opportunities and a network of excellence established over a period of more than 20 years.
The five points, which are highlighted on the DAAD website, may be summarized as follows:
1. These are centers whose teaching and research is interdisciplinary, for an education of excellence in European and German related subjects. 2. They aim to develop, test and maintain new courses, masters and doctoral programmes in this field. 3. They aim to expand and consolidate local research on current developments in Germany. 4. The goal is to establish programmes for visitors, researchers and professors, courses and conference series with leading experts in Germany and Europe. 5. To reach the general public, to create a visible center at a regional and national level and also to determine its role as a national reference center of German and European Studies, and as a political advisor.
The centers worldwide are aimed primarily at the following activities: