The Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CALAS) is a university-based Center for Advanced Studies, founded by four Latin American and four German Universities. The head office of CALAS is located at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico. Alongside, there are three Regional Offices: at the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Quito, Ecuador; the Universidad de Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica; as well as at the Universidad Nacional San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On the German side, the Universities Bielefeld, Kassel, Hanover and Jena are responsible for the project management. In addition, numerous universities and research facilities from all over Latin America are associated with CALAS.
As a Center for Advanced Latin American Studies, CALAS aims to elaborate on topics with a high relevance in social sciences and humanities in Latin America, applying historical, exemplary, scientific and systematic approaches in a transdisciplinary and transregional dialogue. In this way, CALAS aims to stimulate the establishment of a new Latin American research landscape of Centers for Advanced Studies, thus providing space for a new generation of transregional and dialog-oriented research at an international level.
Furthermore, CALAS activities are also a way to bundle, expand, and broaden the expertise on Latin America in the fields of humanities and social sciences at the participating German Universities. In this way, the institutional framework for Latin America related research in Germany is to be improved. To achieve this, German and Latin American partners work together to:
- pursue excellent research in thematic research groups, link them regionally, make them internationally visible, and prepare them for knowledge transfer in other areas of society.
- enter into a dialogue with internationally renowned scientists
- contribute to the broadening of research-induced teaching and linkages of these teaching programs; qualifying and preparing young academics in a thorough way for employment in these fields, thus contributing to the internationalization of research and teaching.
- develop and offer qualification programs for scientific professionals and executives in order to foster the development of transregional cooperation and establishment of Centers for Advanced Studies, as well as to provide scientific advice to political actors, decision-makers and organizations.
Since the Latin American knowledge society is characterized by highly unequal access to knowledge, certain groups (marked by indigeneity, blackness, region, gender, etc.) are still disadvantaged in (top) research and education institutions. The goal of the center is thus to critically reflect the position of CALAS as a Center for Advanced Studies in an unequal knowledge landscape. Latin American debates on bilingual and intercultural education, anti-discrimination, free access to education, etc., as well as discussions on appropriate affirmative action mechanisms are also to be applied to CALAS. The resulting views and position papers will be published on the CALAS internet platform. It goes without saying that the CALAS will strive to reach a balanced gender ratio and pursue the aim of promoting outstanding indigenous or African-American scientists and scholars, and to provide a platform for dialogue between different knowledge systems.
The founding of CALAS in March 2017 is based on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Germany) to set up a Center for Advanced Studies in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences in Latin America. The bilateral (Latin American) bodies of CALAS are composed of a Board of Directors and a Steering Committee. An internationally renowned Advisory Board is set up for academic advice.
The current research program (2017-2029) deals with "Coping with Crises: Transdisciplinary Perspectives from Latin America.