Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin) – which assumes the coordination role of the Merian Centre – is one of Germany’s leading universities, selected as a university of excellence in the Excellence Initiative of the German government in both 2007 and 2012. It has focused heavily on its strategy to become an “International Network University”, striving to expand its international presence by establishing seven liaison offices (Beijing, Brussels, Cairo, New Delhi, New York, Moscow, and São Paulo).
The Lateinamerika-Institut (Institute of Latin American Studies, LAI) of Freie Universität Berlin, founded in 1970, is an area studies centre with an interdisciplinary focus on the humanities and the social sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean. In recent years, the LAI has developed long-term international collaborative projects with Latin American partners, such as the networks Entre Espacios/Zwischen Räumen, desiguALdades.net and trAndeS.
As one of the oldest academic institutions in Europe, Universität zu Köln (University of Cologne, UzK) is Germany’s second largest university. It has successfully sustained its position as an excellent University within the German Excellence Initiative. Internationalization plays a vital part in the university’s development strategy, it runs four liaison offices in Beijing, New Delhi, New York, and Pondicherry, has signed a considerable number of strategic partnerships with academic institutions on all continents.
Cologne runs a Center for Latin American Studies (CLAC) and a successful Area Studies programme for Latin America. It is unique in hosting a special department for Latin American History. Within this context, Cologne coordinated the Research Network for Latin America: Ethnicity, Citizenship, Belonging (funded by the BMBF 2010-2016). In 2014, the Global South Studies Center (GSSC) was established. It brings together research expertise within the University of Cologne in relation to Africa, Asia and Latin America and promotes interdisciplinary cooperation with leading researchers in Germany and abroad.
The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (Ibero-American Institute, IAI) is an interdisciplinary centre for academic and cultural exchange between Germany and Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. It hosts Europe’s largest library for research on Iberian, Latin American, and Caribbean countries. Each year, more than 70 international guest scientists undertake their research stay at the institute in order to take advantage of its unique information infrastructure. The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut develops research projects and participates in various joint projects together with universities (see desiguALdades.net, EULAC Focus, Cluster of Excellence “Image, Knowledge, Gestaltung: An Interdisciplinary Laboratory”). It has excellent networks in Latin America and the Caribbean characterised by multifaceted cooperation in research, library operation and cultural events as well as participation in international committees. Long-standing cooperation ties exist with all other institutional members of the Consortium. Furthermore, IAI is in close contact to political foundations, ministries of foreign affairs and ministries of science as well as organizations providing research grants in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut is part of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, SPK), an internationally renowned cultural foundation with museums, libraries, archives, and research institutes, and an important player in the humanities and the social sciences.
The Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo, USP) is one of the public universities funded by the State of São Paulo and one of Brazil’s most prominent academic institutions. At USP, research and teaching are conducted in virtually all major disciplines. USP has long experience in the management and implementation of international research projects and cooperates closely with German, Latin American and other international partners. On the basis of cooperation agreements, USP has a very active student and research exchange programme with Freie Universität Berlin, Universität zu Köln, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, El Colegio de México and Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (CONICET/UNLP). It has also conducted several joint research projects with CEBRAP as in the case of the Center for Metropolitan Studies established in 2000 and based at USP and CEBRAP.
Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (Brazilian Centre of Analysis and Planning, CEBRAP) is an internationally renowned interdisciplinary research institute for social sciences and the humanities. CEBRAP includes about 60 doctoral researchers and an equal number of senior researchers who are at the same time professors at three main universities in the State of São Paulo: Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), and Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). CEBRAP offers an excellent platform for local institutional exchange as well as for networks in the regional and international context. In addition, CEBRAP has extensive experience in obtaining grants for and managing international research projects implemented with Freie Universität Berlin and El Colegio de México, the Ford Foundation, UNDP, UNESCO, the European Union, and the London School of Economics, among many others.
Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales Research (Institute of the Humanities and Social Sciences, IdIHCS) is a Joint Research Institute of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina, CONICET) and the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (National University of La Plata, UNLP). With 330 researchers (170 senior researchers and 160 junior researchers) and 16 research units, it is the largest Joint Research Institute for the humanities and social sciences in Argentina. The senior researchers are involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching of the Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación (Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences, FAHCE) of the University. It has long-standing collaborative relations with the German and the Latin American members of the consortium and broad networks within Argentina and all over Latin America; several cooperation agreements have been signed with Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Universität zu Köln and Universidade de São Paulo.
El Colegio de México (The College of Mexico, COLMEX) is a public centre of excellence for research and teaching in the area of the humanities and social sciences and is considered the most internationally prominent social science and humanities institution in Mexico. In 2001, it received the prestigious Príncipe de Asturias Award for Social Sciences. Currently, approx. 300 researchers are conducting research within COLMEX. An equal number of junior researchers are trained at COLMEX currently. There are longstanding active research exchanges between El Colegio de México and Freie Universität Berlin, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut and Universität zu Köln, for example the International Research Training Group “Entre Espacios” at FU Berlin funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) and the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, CONACyT).