The Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS) is supported by the Freie Universität Berlin as a host university together with the Humboldt University Berlin and the Leibniz-Center Moderner Orient.
The Graduate School investigates the plurality, changeability, and global connectedness of Muslim cultures and societies. The area of study includes Muslim societies in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, as well as Muslim communities in Europe and North America. The researchers examine, in a systematic and comparative way, concepts, practices, and institutions variously understood as Islamic. Special attention is given to relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as forms of inter- and intra-cultural communication.
In close cooperation with its partner institutions in Germany and abroad, the Graduate School offers doctoral candidates a broad educational programme of exceptional quality coupled with intensive mentoring for individual dissertation projects, training that will qualify graduates to hold leading positions in academia, the media, and politics.
Since October 2008, 132 doctoral students have been admitted to the Graduate School's doctoral program; 54 of them completed their dissertation until the autumn of 2018. The group of doctoral students is characterized by its internationality and gender balance: More than half are women, almost half of the doctoral candidates come from abroad.
Graduates, international or national, work predominantly in the academic field; many work in cultural and scientific cooperation, in political consulting or in the media. The program is enriched by numerous Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Scholars from Germany and abroad, who are intensively involved in the activities of the Graduate School - conferences, lectures and blogs, publications and exhibitions.
In 2017, the Graduate School established a new research focus Dealing with diversity in Islam: texts, objects, and practices. It addresses strategies of dealing with diversity, difference and distinction, be they religious, cultural, ethnic, social, economic or political.
This approach should be explored in the diversity of its strategies and attitudes - ranging from affirmation to negotiation to denial. The aim is not to focus on diversity as such, but to deal with it.
From 2007 the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies has been funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments and by Freie Universität Berlin. Since 2017, after the funding expired, the Graduate School's programm is sponsored by the Einstein Foundation Berlin, the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service. Freie Universität Berlin will guarantee the financing of the management in the coming years. This has laid the foundations for the Graduate School to continue its successful work.