The Academy in Exile (AiE) was founded in 2017 as a joint initiative of the Forum, the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities Essen (KWI), with the support of the Volkswagen Foundation. From 2019 to 2023, the Freie Universität Berlin was a member of the AiE. Since August 2023 the AiE has been continued at the TU Dortmund.
In 2017 the Academy started its work to support researchers of the humanities and social sciences active in the initiative “Academics for Peace” in Turkey. They were offered a platform to continue their research in exile and to help shape a program of critical studies of Turkey. In 2019 the AiE opened up new opportunities for scholars from other countries affected by restrictions to civil and academic freedom; in 2021 a special Afghanistan program was established.
The founding of the AiE was linked to the idea of allowing endangered/exiled academics freedom for academic debate and research on questions about the foundations of plural and open societies, authoritarian ideologies and political practice on the one hand, and to make their intellectual and academic potential fruitful for research and teaching in Germany and as an impulse for the internationalisation of our universities on the other.
From 2017 to 2023 the Academy in Exile was located in two cities, Berlin and Essen. An expansion was made possible in 2019 with the support of other foundations, the Mellon Foundation in particular, and through partnerships with the Freie Universität Berlin that was a partner institution of the AiE until 2023. Since its inception, and until 2023, the Academy has supported 78 scholars at risk from Turkey, Afghanistan, and other countries, through long-term or short-term fellowships. The academics were appointed as Fellows to the KWI or the Forum, or worked at the residency program built up at Freie Universität Berlin. For reasons of personal safety, CV’s and biographies of the Fellows of the Academy in Exile have not been publicized. Information on some of their research projects is available on the AiE website.
Until 2023, the Academy in Exile was steered by a council consisting of: Kader Konuk (UDE, chairperson), Volker Heins (KWI), Claus Leggewie (University of Gießen), Georges Khalil (Forum), Florian Kohstall (Freie Universität Berlin), and Friederike Pannewick (Forum/University of Marburg).
In the framework of its research programs, the Forum has been engaged in supporting academics from countries with limited academic and civil freedom for many years.
After several working meetings with scholars from Eastern Europe and the field of East European Studies, the Berlin–Brandenburg Ukraine Initiative was founded in 2015 at the Forum Transregionale Studien. It was led by the historian Andrii Portnov, who was appointed as a long-term fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien. The initiative aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the situation in Ukraine and its neighbouring states after the Euro-Maidan.