The centre will focus on research in religious and inter-religious studies, as well as history, philosophy, philosophy of science and political science.
The institute is unprecedented in the humanities in Germany, according to president of Goethe University in Frankfurt Enrico Schleiff.
“It is not merely a formal cooperation between a German and an Israeli university, but rather the development of a highly visible, joint institutionalised international research centre,” he said.
“It will focus on questions regarding inter-religious dialogue, religious fundamentalism and conflict, but also on the rich cultural heritage and the potential inherent in religious traditions. This centre is the start of an even closer cooperation.”
Since 1984, scholars from the institutions have collaborated on research in the fields of history and religious studies.
“In the framework of German-Israeli academic relations and the close connection between the cities of Frankfurt and Tel Aviv, we’re creating something very special here – an international research hub in the field of interdisciplinary religious studies that looks at topics from a historical perspective as well as in the context of present times that challenge both societies, the German and the Israeli, each in different ways,” added Christian Wiese, director of the Buber-Rosenzweig Institute at Goethe University and the research centre’s initiator.
German ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer, who attended the signing of the agreement, noted that academic exchange and cooperation are a “constitutive pillar” of German-Israeli relations, as well as a “contribution to strengthening research and scientific progress as a global endeavour, in science as well as in the humanities”.
“Goethe University and Tel Aviv University are addressing one of the urgent questions of our time, the role of religious communities in a changing and conflictual world”
“By declaring their will to establish a joint Centre for the Study of Religious and Inter-religious Dynamics, Goethe University and Tel Aviv University are addressing one of the urgent questions of our time, the role of religious communities in a changing and conflictual world,” she said.
Over three and a half years, Goethe University will contribute €50,000 per year and Tel Aviv University with an annual sum of €20,000, especially for summer schools, the partners added.
The institute is planning to offer joint courses from 2022 summer semester onwards, in addition to a joint English-taught master’s degree program.
Milette Shamir, TAU vice president international, noted that the Israeli institution’s collaborative network with German universities is its largest with any European country.
“This collaboration includes hundreds of joint research projects as well as hundreds of German students who come to our campus each year. The joint centre expands this collaboration in an important new direction and reinforces our existing partnership with Goethe University, one of the leading universities in Germany. We hope that in the near future GU and TAU will expand collaboration to several other areas of common strength.”