Founded in 2003, the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) is a central academic facility of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany's oldest university. Financially, it is at the same time a public-private partnership (PPP), attracting about two-thirds of its budget from private donors.
The HCA serves three main purposes:
- As an institute for higher education, we provide interdisciplinary academic and cultural training for qualified graduate and postgraduate students from around the world, offering B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. programs in American Studies.
- As a center for interdisciplinary research, we host international conferences and serve as a venue for interdisciplinary research projects as well as for individual research.
- As a forum for public debate, we encourage and facilitate communication among the academia and the general public as well as between the business community, the political sphere, and the media.
The University of Heidelberg's 625-year-old tradition of excellence, its international reputation, and its strong record in the study of the United States, as well as Heidelberg's long-standing ties across the Atlantic, combine to create the ideal environment for the HCA.
An Institute for Higher Education
Graduates of the HCA’s B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. programs profit from their interdisciplinary and intercultural education and are well qualified to work as experts on the United States in academic institutions, the civil service, the economy, the media, and non-profit organizations. The faculty consists of German professors and lecturers who have spent a considerable time in the United States and visiting professors from America who have a substantial international background. American Studies at the HCA are thus characterized by both sound knowledge about the United States and alternate viewpoints: "Inside knowledge with an outside perspective!”
All classes at the HCA are held in English, attracting students from all over the world. So far, students from more than 40 countries have received their degree and started to build an international network of specialists on the U.S. that will continue to grow. In cooperation with the Curt-Engelhorn Chair for American History at the History Department, the HCA conducts excursions to the United States for students of Heidelberg University.
A Center for Interdisciplinary Research
At the HCA, the America-related research of six university faculties and ten disciplines converges, offering a range of expertise that is unique in the academic world. The interaction between the various disciplines makes it possible to teach American Studies with a cross-disciplinary perspective and therefore to do justice to the complexity of the object of research – the United States. By creating a number of in-house academic positions and a center for visiting scholars, the HCA is positioning itself as a competitive and internationally renowned center for interdisciplinary research.
Its Ph.D. in American Studies program and its annual Spring Academy for international doctoral students offer qualified junior scholars the opportunity to intensively study all aspects of American life and at the same time build academic networks.
A Forum for Public Debate
The HCA does not only see itself as a premier center for research and teaching, but also as a forum for a lively dialogue between the academia and the public. This commitment is writ large in the Baden-Württemberg Seminar of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies. Each spring and fall, the HCA invites distinguished scholars, public policy experts, journalists, writers, and artists to present their current work, discuss issues of transatlantic interest or read from their writings at selected institutions throughout the state of Baden-Württemberg.