Heidelberg Center for American Studies

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The University of Heidelberg's Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) is an interdisciplinary institute for higher education, a center for advanced research, and a forum for public debate on topics related to the United States of America. It was founded in 2003, making it the newest institute of Germany's oldest university.[1]

Building on long-standing ties between Heidelberg and the United States, the HCA fosters interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange across the Atlantic.

Higher education[edit]

The HCA contributes to interdisciplinary academic and cultural expertise on the United States in Europe. It trains Americanists in response to increasing demand in academia and the business community.

The University of Heidelberg introduced the MA in American Studies (MAS) at the HCA in 2004. Since 2006, the HCA has also offered a Ph.D. in American Studies. In 2010 the first class of students of BA in American Studies (BAS) was introduced.[2]


The HCA supports individual doctoral projects as well as international and interdisciplinary research cooperation.

Furthermore, the HCA hosts and organizes international conferences and symposia, workshops, and seminars. Since 2004 it has run an annual HCA Spring Academy on American history, politics, and American culture. The principal aim of the Spring Academy is to establish an international network of Ph.D. students in the field of American studies.

Forum for public debate[edit]

As a public forum, the HCA facilitates communication among the business community, the media, the political sphere, academia, and the general public.

The HCA regularly hosts lectures and lecture series as well as high-profile keynote addresses on U.S. affairs and transatlantic relations.

A lecture series "Typisch Amerikanisch" was offered every winter from 2002 to 2006. Each annual series was organized around a central theme, such as foreign policy, multiculturalism, or the economy of the United States.

Development and goals[edit]

In 2002, an interdisciplinary group of professors and administrators of the University of Heidelberg began working toward the establishment of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies. The HCA opened its first office in the spring of 2003. By October 2004, the HCA was officially inaugurated as a central academic institution of the University of Heidelberg.

In the Summer of 2006 the HCA moved into its present offices located in a historic building in the old city center of Heidelberg, the Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais.

Generous public and private funding was crucial in establishing the HCA. The institution aims to raise an endowment sufficient to ensure its permanent success.


In October 2006, Athena Wissenschaftsmarketing, HCA's first spin off, commenced operation. Having its sights set on the new challenges presented by the global education market, Athena has already opened an office in the still young business park of the University of Heidelberg. As an independent agency, Athena supports academic institutions to successfully brand their products and introduce them into the international education market. Athena is particularly experienced in international student recruitment campaigns. Additionally, the agency operates as an intermediary between the realm of academia and the world of business, advising academic institutions as well as private and corporate donors on fundraising and sponsoring schemes.

External links[edit]