Consortium & Council


As one of the largest universities in Germany, the Universität Duisburg-Essen (UDE) is distinguished by its diverse student body and international faculty. UDE enjoys a reputation for innovative, interdisciplinary research and teaching, and marked success in attracting external funding from industry, government, and private foundations. The university upholds a sense of social responsibility that contributes to the economic revitalization of the Rhein-Ruhr region. With a multicultural student body reflective of the demographics of the area, UDE promotes social inclusion, access to higher education, and gender equity. This commitment is supported by UDE’s Vice-Rectorate for Diversity Management, which has received national recognition for fostering diversity in the tertiary education sector. Other institutional initiatives that promote internationalization and diversity include programs for hosting international scholars, refugee scholars and students. UDE has acted as the principle consortium host for Academy in Exile since its inception in 2017.

The KWI (Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut / Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities) is an interdisciplinary research center following the tradition of international Institutes for Advanced Study. In its role as an inter-university institution connecting the Ruhr University Bochum, the TU Dortmund University, and the University Duisburg-Essen, the institute cooperates with researchers and scientists from its neighboring universities as well as other partners from the federal state NRW and places in and outside of Germany. Within the Ruhr area, the KWI is a place to share and discuss the questions and findings of ambitious research with interested parties from the city and the greater region.

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien (consortium partner 2017–2023) promotes the internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. It provides scope for exchange, debate, and communication across national, regional or cultural borderlines. In cooperation with universities and research institutes in and outside of Berlin, the Forum appoints Fellows from all over the world, develops formats of transregional communication, and engages in research programs and initiatives that examine contemporary questions in a comparative and inclusive manner. The Forum currently engages in the research programs: Europe in the Middle East—the Middle East in Europe (EUME), Prisma Ukraïna: Research Network Eastern Europe, and re:constitution – Exchange and Analysis on Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe. It is part of the consortium of EUTIM: Europäische Zeiten / European Times – A Transregional Approach to the Societies of Central and Eastern Europe, MECAM: Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb, and a founding member of the Academy in Exile.

The Freie Universität Berlin is among the leading universities in Germany and as part of its efforts to support scholars at risk was AiE’s consortium partner from 2019–2023. It hosted Academy in Exile’s Critical Thinking Residency program. While pursuing independent research, AiE fellows at the Freie Universität Berlin also participated in public lectures and workshops to evaluate the history of critical thinking, its relationship to policies of higher education, and its renewed relevance today. As a distinctive feature of this program, fellows contributed to a teaching-across-borders initiative and were encouraged to join existing affiliated research projects. Freie Universität Berlin was the first German university to join the Scholars at Risk program and also hosts the transnational mentoring program, Academics in Solidarity.


The Academy in Exile Council consists of representatives of the Universität Duisburg-Essen, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) Essen, the Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin, and the Freie Universität Berlin. The representatives of these institutions build the infrastructure of Academy in Exile and shape its future.

Professor Vanessa Agnew
Critical Thinking Program, Academy in Exile
Anglophone Studies
Universität Duisburg-Essen

Research School of Humanities and the Arts
The Australian National University 

Professor Kader Konuk
Academy in Exile
Institut für Turkistik
Universität Duisburg-Essen

Former Members of the Council

Professor Verena Blechinger-Talcott
Freie Universität Berlin

Professor Volker Heins
Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI) 
Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Politikwissenschaft

Georges Khalil
Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin

Professor Claus Leggewie
Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI) , Director (2007–17)
Universität Gießen, Ludwig Börne-Professur

Professor Friederike Pannewick
Forum Transregionale Studien 
Philips-Universität Marburg, Centrum für Nah- und Mitteloststudien (CNMS), Arabistik