Research profileField of Focus III

Cultural Dynamics in Globalised Worlds


The Field of Focus 3 “Cultural Dynamics in Globalized Worlds” addresses the complexity and challenges of a dynamic world, particularly through a transcultural and area studies lens. The Field of Focus 3 bundles the research activities of the three humanities faculties at the University of Heidelberg – the Faculties of Modern Languages and Literature, Philosophy and Theology –, their institutions and their cooperation partners in and outside of Heidelberg. An unusual number of so-called ‘small disciplines’ characterizes the faculties of the Field of Focus 3.

The research activities of Field of Focus 3 center on the construction and dynamization of cultural spaces and contribute to a deeper understanding of pressing problems such as the construction of cultural identity, and the significance and transformation of cultural heritage. In order to ensure that the Field of Focus 3's research is relevant to the present, the Research Council of the Field of Focus 3 promotes, among other things, cooperation with the social sciences in the Field of Focus 4.

A Research Council coordinates the research activities of Field of Focus 3. The Council supports the bundling of competencies by promoting thematic focuses for the exploration of cultural spaces. One focus is on research into the practices, networks and artefacts through which knowledge acquires validity – especially with regard to competing forms of knowledge in transcultural spaces. A further focus is on historical area studies of traditions of endowment, collecting and donation with a view to their integrating and sometimes disintegrating effects on communities. A third focus has been developed in the area of Environmental Humanities - under the impact of the global environmental crisis, partners from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences are coming together to reflect on the crisis and possibilities for rethinking and acting. All three foci bring together a variety of disciplines, projects, and people; they are strengthened through funding for Thematic Research Networks. The connection to Area Studies and Digital Humanities is very close throughout.

For many years now, special expertise has developed in the field of Digital Humanities at Heidelberg University. A Digital Humanities Forum was founded as a hub - it will continue to shape the Digital Humanities, especially with its focus on Digital Heritage and Digital Linguistics. The Forum includes a virtual Digital Humanities Service Center and a working group for the innovation-driven further development of the Digital Humanities at Heidelberg University.

A number of important institutions will reinforce this research profile. The Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage (HCCH), founded in 2013, supports the management of cultural resources and the preservation of cultural heritage by providing a platform for critical discussion and knowledge transfer; not least through the exchange with the many collections of the University of Heidelberg that belong to the HCCH. Since 2019, these activities link to the Field of Focus 4 in the flagship initiative "Transforming Cultural Heritage".

The Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) develops methods for researching the dynamics of transcultural processes, thereby providing significant support for interdisciplinary dialogue. The Area Studies at the University of Heidelberg focus on South and East Asia (Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies – CATS), North America (Heidelberg Center for American Studies – HCA), and Ibero-America (Heidelberg Center for Ibero-American Studies – HCIAS). Paradigmatic research into processes of social integration and cohesion as well as cultural-linguistic aspects can thus be conducted under ideal conditions (cf. European Center for Linguistics – EZS, Heidelberg University Language & Cognition Lab – HULC). The University Library and its publishing house heiUP and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR) are of particular importance for the further development of editorial standards and for the numerous approaches pursued in Heidelberg in the field of digital humanities.

The Field of Focus 3 can draw on the knowledge and exchange with many regional and national partners. The University of Jewish Studies Heidelberg, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and the Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus LiMo (Empirical Linguistics and Computational Language Modeling), which was founded together with the Mannheim Institute for German Language (IDS), stand out from the multitude of cooperations. There are also many collaborations with regional or international museums.