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Call for Proposals Academies' Programme for 2026

The collective research programme of the academies of sciences – the Academies' Programme – serves to explore, preserve and interpret global cultural heritage. It is currently the largest long-term research programme in Germany for foundational research in the humanities and social sciences and is coordinated by the Union of Academies. The programme and its research projects are executed by the eight academies under the umbrella of the Union as well as by Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences.

Academies' Programme 2024

125 Projects with 188 Research Units
19 Dictionaries
104 Editions
2 Projects in Foundational Research in Social and Cultural Studies
Total funding: approximately 75 Million Euros

With a total funding of 75 million Euros, the Academies' Programme encompasses 125 projects with approximately 188 research units (as of 2024). These consist of 19 dictionaries, 104 editions and two projects concerning foundational research in social and cultural studies. The projects as a whole engage approximately 900 staff members. Additionally, over 100 university lecturers are engaged in the projects on a voluntary basis.

In order to further develop the clustering of the Academies' Programme, the Academies launched the new format of themed conferences in 2019. The goal of these interacademy events is to intensify the interdisciplinary dialogue between the projects, which are divided into over 190 research units, and to continually expand the projects’ scholarly cooperations with external partners.

Once a year, the research projects from the Academies' Programme present their work at the Academies’ Day, the major community event of the academies, and extend an invitation to visitors to discover new ideas through interactive exhibitions and converse with the researchers.

Since 2006, the Academies' Programme has had an annual call for applications. In order to be accepted, research projects in the humanities need to fulfill the following criteria: transregional and national significance, a high level of societal and scholarly relevance, a duration between 12 and 25 years, and a minimum funding of 120,000 Euros per year. Moreover, the inclusion of young scholars, the (re)qualification of research associates over the entire project duration, and digital working and publication concepts are all requirements.

The Joint Science Conference, in which both nation and states are represented, is responsible for decisions concerning the budget of the Academies' Programme, the admission of new projects and the continuation of current projects. Decisions are made on the basis of the programme and financial planning put together by the Union of Academies.

“Who are we? Where do we come from? And what kind of influence does our collective cultural memory have on our life together today? Answers to these questions are sought for by the Academies' Programme – one of the largest humanities research programmes in Germany. Since decades it has aided us in studying and preserving our cultural heritage.”


Anja Karliczek, Member of the German Parliament, Minister for Education and Research

Evaluations are carried out on a regular basis by external academics from the international scientific community in order to ensure the high quality of the dictionaries, lexica and editions compiled in the fields of theology, philosophy, history, literature and linguistics, art history and archaeology, inscription scholarship and onomastics, as well as musicology and foundational research in the social and cultural sciences. The structure of the research units in the academies and the supervising commissions enable such long-term and large-scale research projects to be carried out to a high standard over long periods of time without being restricted by the availability of individuals or the limited capacities of individual institutions.

The Academies Programme has been evaluated favourably by the German Science Council – most recently in 2019 – which stated that the projects carried out within the Academies Programme are frequently, in some cases even worldwide, hubs of research on particular research topics, that the research carried out is remarkable both in terms of quantity and quality, and that the paramount merit of the Academies Programme continues to lie in the central contribution that its research results make to the empirical foundations of subjects such as philosophy, history, theology, and philology.


Sebastian Zwies
Head of Coordination
Academies Programme


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