The Second UBIAS

Intercontinental Academia: On Human Dignity

Jerusalem/Bielefeld/JOHANNESBURG 2016-2019


The Israel Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University Jerusalem (IIAS), Israel’s only institute of advanced study, and the Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF) of Bielefeld University, Germany’s oldest institute for advanced studies, have joined to organize the Intercontinental Academia 2016 on human dignity. The first session of the Intercontinental Academia took place in March 2016 at IIAS in Jerusalem (6–20 March 2016), the second in August 2016 at ZiF in Bielefeld (1–11 August 2016). Additionally, a colloquium on the subject was hosted by the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa (21–25 January 2019).

The topic of human dignity strikes the chords of crucial ethical and practical debates in various academic disciplines. Human dignity is touched upon in research on (international) terrorism, torture, (civil) war, big data and data protection, long-term care, PID, poverty alleviation and social security, minorities, history of human rights, assisted suicide, border regimes, or genetic engineering, to name just a few areas. Accordingly, the Intercontinental Academia has welcomed applications coming from a wide range of disciplines such as law, political sciences, sociology, political theory, history, philosophy, theology, education, cultural studies, literary studies, biology, biogenetics, or informatics.

The Intercontinental Academia has aimed at promoting an unprecedented interdisciplinary dialogue on human dignity and at initiating further cooperation between participants with diverse scientific and cultural backgrounds. Most importantly, it has allowed promising young researchers to work and live together with some of the most distinguished authorities in their field of research and thus enable them to study their work in a unique manner.


Master classes

Both sessions of the Intercontinental Academia consisted of three or four master classes led by most eminent scholars. The master classes covered a number of thematic dimensions, in particular:

The constitutional right to human dignity

Dignity as the core of human rights

Recognizing human dignity after its denial

Human dignity in religion


Heads of the master classes includeD

  • Aleida Assmann, Professor in English Literature, University of Konstanz

  • Aharon Barak, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel; Professor of Law at the Radzyner Law School, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and Visiting Professor at Yale Law School
  • Bernadette Brooten, Professor of Christian Studies, Gender Studies and Classics, Brandeis University
  • Marcus Duwell, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University
  • Moshe Halbertal, Philosophy Department and the Department of Jewish Thought, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Gruss Professor of Law, NYU Law School
  • Christine Hayes, Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University
  • Lynn A. Hunt, Distinguished Research Professor & Eugen Weber Endowed Chair in Modern European History, University of California, Los Angeles

  • Mordechai Kremnitzer, Bruce W. Wayne Professor of International Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Vice President of Research of the Israel Democracy Institute
  • Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff, Professor of Public Law, former Justice of the German Federal Constitutional Court, University of Bielefeld

  • Ralf Poscher, Professor of Constitutional Law and Legal Philosophy, University of Freiburg

  • Michael Rosen, Professor of Government, Harvard University


Intercontinental Academia

An Intercontinental Academia is a form of cooperation between institutes of advanced study, connected through the global network of University-based Institutes of Advanced Study (UBIAS). It is organized by two of these institutes, located in different parts of the world and assembles a limited number of doctoral and post-doctoral scholars from all over the world for a period of two weeks to be spent in each of the host institutes. The participants are chosen from among the candidates nominated by all the institutes of advanced study participating in the UBIAS network. UBIAS’ first Intercontinental Academia is run by the Institutes of Advanced Studies in São Paulo and Nagoya and focuses on time. More information on



  • Ulrike Davy, Managing Director of ZiF

  • Michal Linial, Director of IIAS


Please send questions about the program to the coordinators.

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