Positioning the Humanities in the 2020s

Herrenhausen Palace
Researchers and Professionals

International experts will focus on the future role of the humanities at a symposium in Hannover on September 10-12, 2019.

The Humanities contribute extensively to our cultural knowledge. What is their future role? (©Jörg Wesner for VolkswagenStiftung)

Conference summary 


Since the new millennium the humanities in the Anglo-Saxon world as well as the Geistes- and Kulturwissenschaften in Europe have been exposed to manifold constraints and threats, but there also have been new opportunities. On the one hand they were quite severely affected by paradigm shifts in the value systems of policy-makers and university leaders, thus redirecting resources towards apparently more useful and profit-making units (with higher impact on the university's overall performance). On the other hand, they were confronted with an increasing demand for providing their specific knowledge base and expertise in culturally embedded matters such as ethnic and religious conflicts or the changing modes of communication in a digitalized world. It is against this background that the international Herrenhausen Symposium, organized by the Volkswagen Foundation and the German U15 Universities, aims at thoroughly analyzing  the present situation and achievements made. Experts from renowned academic institutions in Europe and abroad will exchange their views and ideas.  A particular emphasis shall be put on future developments and strategically important prospects for the respective knowledge domains in the 2020s. What is their role in an increasingly instable world? How can they protect their autonomy and pave the way for a culture of scholarly creativity? What steps should be taken?

Herrenhausen Symposium
Positioning the Humanities in the 2020s
September 10-12, 2019
Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover, Germany


The program for the Symposium can be found in the column on the right.

Session 1: Analysis of the Present Situation
Session 2: The Humanities Facing Globalization and the Rise of New Nationalism
Session 3: Humanities in the Digital Era
Session 4: Challenges for and Advances of the Humanities
Session 5: Bridging the Gap between Cultures - Humanities and the Natural and Social Sciences
Session 6: The Humanities' Contribution towards the Global Issues

Confirmed Speakers include: Homi K. Bhabha, Harvard Humanities Center / Peter-André Alt, German Rectors' Conference / Gustaf Arrhenius, University of Stockholm / Ian Baucom, University of Virginia / Ulrike Beisiegel, University of Göttingen / Alun Evans, The British Academy / Marie-Christine Fontana, enconcept / Simon Goldhill, Cambridge University / Michael Hagner, ETH Zürich / Stefan Helgesson, The World Literature Project / Anna-Katharina Hornidge, University of Bremen / Bernhard Jussen, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main / Saadi Lahlou, London School of Economics / Premesh Lalu, University of Western Cape / Joseph Chinyong Liow, Nanyang Technological University / Steffen Mau, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Winfried Menninghaus, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics / Helga Nowotny, ERA Council Forum Austria / Dan O’Brien, Oxford Brookes University/ Luiz Oosterbeek, International Council of Philosophy and Human Sciences / Hsiung Ping-Chen, The Chinese University of Hongkong / Martin Rohrmeier, EPFL Lausanne / Eva Schlotheuber, University of Düsseldorf / Susan Schreibman, Maastricht University / Gunnar Sivertsen, Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education / Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, Columbia University / Barry Smith, University of London / Martha Nell Smith, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities / Beate Söntgen, Leuphana University Lüneburg / Dorrit Vibeke Sorensen, School of Arts, Design and Media Singapore / Sverker Sörlin, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm / Frank Uekötter, University of Birmingham / Jeroen van den Hoven, Delft University


If you would like to attend the conference, please register by clicking on the registration link in the column on the right. There are no fees for attendance but registration is essential.


The conference language is English.

Accommodation for participants

Please note that you are responsible for booking your accommodation. In the column on the right you find information on hotels with room contingents reserved for the participants of the symposium.

Venue and public transport

The conference is held at Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover, Germany. You can reach the venue by tram: Take line 4 or 5 and get off at "Herrenhäuser Gärten".