Key Activities

The Place of Humanities in Research, Education and Society: An Arab-German Dialogue


International AGYA Conference

Digitization and artificial intelligence, globalization, agriculture and sustainable resource production in times of climate change, genome editing and high-tech medicine, are highly topical issues of STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math). These technological and ecological transformations are increasingly shaping our everyday lives, and they determine how we will live in the future. Hence, new challenges for society arise, requiring philosophers, historians, literary scholars, and artists to provide us the essential knowledge and a variety of perspectives to reflect on social change, our ethical values, and norms: the humanities help us make meaning of the future world and define our place in it.

The international AGYA conference aims at exploring the potential and challenges of the humanities, engaging Arab and German key players in a multilateral dialogue.

In the Arab world and Germany, the humanities face common obstacles such as limited access to financial resources or their very relevance being constantly put in question. Specifically in the Arab world, the lack of prestige and status of the humanities make gifted students rather choose a career path in STEM disciplines. A restricted access to international knowledge production is also an issue in some Arab countries. In Germany, the job market for graduates of the humanities is comparatively precarious. Therefore, it is time to initiate a transregional dialogue about the role of the humanities, their standing in the academic field, and their impact on society.

What are the most challenging issues in the humanities today? How to teach humanities at universities and high schools to the next generation and what does it take to bridge the gap between sciences and humanities? What is the potential of digital humanities? The AGYA conference invites scholars of the humanities, scientists, and university officials from Arab countries and Germany to exchange ideas and share best practices, explore different strategies and benefits of Arab-German cooperation, and discuss the effects of funding policies. Last but not least, the importance and impact of humanities beyond the academic sphere will be debated together with representatives of cultural institutions, media and funding institutions, policy makers, and creative minds: How to make the knowledge and the skills associated with the humanities accessible to a broader public?

This is a conference of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) in cooperation with Freie Universität Berlin and Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, with the collaboration of Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg and American University of Sharjah. Sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The conference is part of the Berlin Science Week.

Contact and Registration

For general inquiries, please contact: humanities[at]

To register for the conference, please follow this link:


FRIDAY, 08 NOVEMBER 2019, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.    

  • Opening Statement and Discussion: ‘Bridging between Humanities and Sciences’
    Prof. Dr. Günter M. Ziegler, President of Freie Universität Berlin
    Prof. Dr. Abdullatif Abuhijleh, President of Birzeit University, West Bank
  • Reception

SATURDAY, 09 NOVEMBER 2019, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

  • Keynotes
    Prof. Dr. Randa Aboubakr, Cairo University: Why Humanities Matter—Perspectives from the Arab World
    tba: Chances and Challenges for the Humanities at German Universities and Beyond
  • Panel Discussion
    Arab-German Cooperation in the Humanities
  • Workshops
    Teaching Humanities at Universities and High Schools (two parallel workshops)
    Translating Knowledge to Society
  • Poster Sessions
    Initiatives and projects promoting the role and value of humanities in research, education and society
  • Award Ceremony

SUNDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2019, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

  • Keynote
    tba: Diversity and Cultural Heritage at Risk
  • Panel Discussions
    Funding Research in the Humanities
    Digital Humanities
  • Workshops
    Disciplinary Perspectives (five parallel workshops): History & Archaeology, Literary & Cultural Studies, Philosophy & Ethics, Law, Gender Studies
  • Final Discussion


AGYA Award for Initiatives Communicating Humanities to the Public

During the conference, a prize will be awarded to projects with special achievements in communicating humanities to a wider public. Following an international call for proposals, ten projects will be invited to take part in a poster presentation during the conference. The two best proposals/posters (one from the Arab world and one from Germany or another European country) will be honored in an award ceremony on the second day of the conference.


Members in Charge

Nuha Al-Shaar

Arabic & Islamic Studies
American University of Sharjah, Department of Arabic & Translation Studies

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Beate Ulrike La Sala

Freie Universität Berlin, Collaborative Research Center 980 "Episteme in Motion"

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Jenny Oesterle

Heidelberg University Transcultural Studies

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Barbara Winckler

Arabic & Islamic Studies
University of Münster Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies

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DATE and Venue

08 – 10 November 2019
Freie Universität Berlin
Silberlaube, Hörsaal 1b
Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem, Germany

Picture by AGYA/Judith Affolter

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