The Europäisches Kolleg Jena asks the core question, “What remains of the twentieth century?” and this in a dual sense, as the focus of interdisciplinary research as well as for practical applications. In normative terms, the question is which aspects of historical experience in the “extreme twentieth century” should be consciously preserved in historical consciousness as value-forming and behavior-guiding. From an empirical-analytical perspective, the focus is on a diagnostic investigation of the concrete ways in which the history of the twentieth century is addressed. The aim is to make a fundamental contribution to the analysis of historical cultures in the twenty-first century and their effect on historical consciousness.
Anchored in seven departments of instruction at Jena University and the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation, since February 2015 Ph.D. candidates have been researching representations of the twentieth century from the perspectives of contemporary history, art history, literature, historical and political education.
Additionally the institute offered a Europe-wide postgraduate certificate programme Exhibiting Contemporary History for museum employees and curators of exhibits on contemporary history. The program provided concise training, its graduates earned a certificate which enables them to reflect in scholarly and aesthetic terms on how to exhibit contemporary history.
Since 2016 to 2019 the Exhibiting Contemporary History postgraduate certificate programme combined innovative research in contemporary history and museology with reflection on historical culture, while at the same time developing practical curatorial categories and concepts.
Dealing with historical heritage in a knowledgeable, intelligent, and aesthetic way is a prerequisite to documenting, exhibiting, and explaining it in a museum context. This concise study program therefore focused on how to deal with museum objects and visual sources. It offered an introduction to analytical structures of curating and thus provided the skills to grasp and knowledgeably exhibit aesthetic representations and constructions of meaning with an eye to both their own inner logic and the overall historical context.
Students and faculty were present in several phases as participants of an exhibiting laboratory, attractive for its unique working atmosphere and a Europe-wide network of museum practitioners and theorists. Graduates of the program are certified in their ability to innovatively curate contemporary history anywhere in Europe. It therefore offered employees and curators of contemporary history museums and memorials from throughout Europe a unique opportunity for continuing education.
From 2015 to 2020 the Europäisches Kolleg Jena is funded by the Thuringian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society as part of the ProExzellenz Initiative.