Hertie School chosen for project on liberal democracy by German Excellence Commission

8-university Cluster of Excellence SCRIPTS to research global challenges to liberal political and economic model.

The Hertie School is part of an eight-member consortium of Berlin universities chosen for funding through the German state and federal government’s Excellence Strategy.  Funding for the Cluster of Excellence, Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS) which is researching challenges to the liberal model of political and economic order, was approved  at the end of September by the Excellence Commission, consisting of international experts and federal and state research ministers. Responsible for the project at the Hertie School are Mark Hallerberg, Professor of Public Management and Political Economy and Dean of Research and Faculty and Markus Jachtenfuchs, Professor of European and Global Governance.

The group also includes the Freie Universität Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, the Centre for East European and International Studies, the German Institute for Economic Research, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies and the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient.

SCRIPTS analyses the contemporary controversies surrounding the liberal model of political and economic order from a historical, global, and comparative perspective. Twenty-five years after the Cold War, the prevailing liberal democratic order faces a profound crisis. Authoritarian leaders are open antagonists of the liberal model, while right-wing populist movements like the Alternative for Germany (AfD) gain strength by attacking the foundations of liberalism within liberal societies. Transnational networks connect these actors. The Cluster looks at what is driving these contestations, and the consequences for global challenges of the 21st century.

“The Hertie School component of the project will focus on issues of reallocation of resources as well as the legitimacy of the state to control borders,” Mark Hallerberg said. “There will also be a component focused on social science methods based at the Hertie School.”

SCRIPTS will connect academic expertise in the social sciences and area studies in Berlin, and bridge methodological and institutional divides. Based on research collaborations with universities in all world regions, SCRIPTS will address the diversity of contestations to liberal democracy and their inter-connections. It will also maintain close cooperative ties with major political and cultural institutions.

In total, seven such Clusters of Excellence among Berlin universities and research institutions were awarded funding in September. Starting in 2019, each of the Berlin-based interdisciplinary research projects will be funded for seven years with up to ten million euros annually. After the first seven years, the projects may be considered for renewal for a further seven years.

The Clusters of Excellence are implemented by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the German Council of Science and Humanities, as part of the Excellence Strategy to strengthen Germany’s position in international research. Proposals are reviewed and decided upon in an academically driven, two-stage competitive process (draft proposals and full proposals). Fifty-seven Clusters of Excellence were selected in 2018 for funding nation-wide from among 88 proposed projects, the DFG said. A total of approximately €385 million are available annually.




  • Mark Hallerberg , Dean of Research and Faculty and Professor of Public Management and Political Economy