Käte Hamburger Kolleg

The Centre bases its approach on intensive interdisciplinary research, cooperation between researchers from all corners of the world and interaction with experts with practical experience of international cooperation. Since its launch in February 2012, 34 political scientists, economists, historians, legal scholars, philosophers and anthropologists from 17 countries have been guests of the Centre. The projects undertaken by the Centre’s fellows, which constitute the centrepiece of its research work, are assigned to four thematic fields:

  • Research Unit 1 “The (Im-)Possibility of Co­operation” examines how findings on humans’ ability to cooperate in small groups can be transferred to the global level in order to explore how global cooperation can succeed when faced with global crises such as climate change. 
  • Research Unit 2 “Global Cultural Conflicts and Transcultural Cooperation” investigates the little researched “cultural factor” and asks to what extent cultural and religious differences obstruct or facilitate global cooperation and how (inter-)religious and secular concepts and debates ­influence conceptions of cooperation. The ­focus of research here is on topics such as ­humanitarianism and transitional justice. 
  • Research Unit 3 “Global Governance Revisited” devotes its attention to the effects on global governance as political and professional cultures become increasingly heterogeneous and explores which norms, rules and institutions are required in order to respond adequately to current and future global challenges. Empirically the focus here is on three areas of politics – climate ­negotiations, financial crisis and WTO negotiations, and tensions between sovereignty and intervention under the heading of the “responsibility to protect”.
  • Research Unit 4 “Paradoxes and Perspectives of Democratisation” explores the role of democratisation and legitimacy in global cooperation. Which practices, norms and rules are emerging that can guarantee global cooperation under the conditions ­imposed by different cultural contexts and degrees of democratic legitimation – for example between non-western states and OECD countries? Other topics addressed by Research Unit 4 in addition to democratisation processes in the “global south” include the financial ­crisis and peacebuilding.

The Centre explores these questions at numerous events in various formats: in the first two years, nine workshops have been held for scholars in the field, together with seven ‘Käte Hamburger Lectures’ and a ‘Käte Hamburger Dialogue’ for the interested public. The fellows have also organised several internal ‘InHouse’ workshops in addition to the regular research colloquia. Close cooperation with the participating institutes DIE, INEF and KWI exists at every level of the Centre’s activities, whether in research, events or publications. A small selection of the many events is mentioned here:

  • The Käte Hamburger Lectures, with eminent scholars such as Prof. Thomas Pogge, Prof. Ramesh Thakur, Prof. David Chandler and Prof. Jan Aart Scholte, have focussed so far on topics such as the millennium development goals and global justice, the effects of the global financial crisis on civil society and democracy, global governance and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the role of the state in the increasingly complex global political economy. In the Käte Hamburger Lecture in November 2013, on “Tolerance and Cooperation in Primate Society”, Prof. Julia Fischer showed how ­primates cooperate in complex social groups and discussed with the audience the significance of these insights for our understanding of human cooperation.
  • In the first Käte Hamburger Dialogue “Elections, Violence and International Criminal Justice: The Case of Kenya”, international experts, scholars, students and policy advisers discussed current developments surrounding the 2013 elections in Kenya at DIE in Bonn.
  • The Centre’s first Workshop at KWI in June 2012 on “Free Speech in a Multicultural World”, during which the first Käte Hamburger Lecture was delivered by Timothy Garton Ash, considered whether, by guaranteeing “free speech” for example on the Internet, a basic prerequisite for global and cross-cultural ­cooperation could be created in our culturally pluralistic world society in order to uphold the freedom of expression, science and art.
  • A talk by the author Martin Mosebach on “Wagnis Blasphemie” (“Daring Blasphemy”), which prompted a heated debate at the event itself and even more so later in the national daily press, led to the publication of the first volume of the Centre’s “Global Dialogues” series, with commentaries by other workshop participants.
  • A successful inaugural event in Berlin in April 2013 marked the launch of a Practitioner Seminar series on the future of climate policy after Doha, at which a fixed group of around ten experts from the field of climate policy and negotiations meet with members of the Centre once a year for a one-day intensive workshop at the intersection between science and practice. At the first meeting, the group took stock of climate policy and considered possible ways out of the blockade in global climate negotiations.
  • The Centre’s first Masterclass also proved to be a resounding success. Embedded in the context of the Ruhrtriennale in August 2013, it brought together ­cooperation research experts from disciplines as diverse as evolutionary ­biology, economics and international relations in Duisburg to discuss the complexity of global cooperation and identify key conditions for successful cooperation. The network established as a result of the Masterclass has increased the visibility of the Centre beyond its own disciplinary boundaries.