Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Siegel

Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies

The IZEA was founded in 1990 as a central scientific institution of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. As a research institution for the history of culture and ideas, it explores the foundation of modern Western societies through the study of ideas and cultural patterns developed in the 18th century.

18th century studies

The research program includes research and publishing projects dedicated to a wide variety of themes, such as the history of universities, societies and communication; anthropology, aesthetics, culture and knowledge transfer, scholarly culture and literary forms of representation in the 18th century; the development of cultural patterns; the Enlightenment in global networks; and the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz.

Connected with the region's research institutions

The IZEA is located in the Red School, built in 1896, which was formerly the Higher School for Girls of the Francke Foundations. The IZEA houses a public library containing primary sources and research literature related to the Enlightenment in regional and European contexts. The Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Modern Written Culture and European Knowledge Transfer and the Immanuel-Kant-Forum also have their offices in the building.

Enlightenment studies in international networks

Thanks to its outstanding library, its publishing projects, its geographic proximity to important historic sites related to the Enlightenment (including extensive archives, libraries and art collections), and its partnerships with major cultural and scientific institutions,  the IZEA is now one of the most important international research institutes dedicated to the study of the Enlightenment, and is an essential meeting point for scientists from around the world.

Interdisciplinary program: Master of Arts – Cultures of Enlightenment


Degree: Master of Arts (M.A.)

Workload: 120 LP/ECTS

Number of semesters until completion: 4

Start of program: Winter and Summer


The concepts and cultural patterns of modernity which shape our present as well as the debates on the future of our western model of society in a globalized world arose during the Enlightenment. The 18th century eroded traditional modes of acting, believing and knowing and thereby opened new frontiers for human design and understanding. It gave start to a multi-layered and conflict laden transformation of the religious and the rational which has lost nothing of its actuality.

Our program of study "Cultures of Enlightenment" aims to fathom the many facets of this epochal transformation in an interdisciplinary manner and by a multi-perspective approach. It puts special emphasize on furthering the scientific methods required by each academic discipline involved while devoting special attention to its fields of application. The following disciplines take part in the program: Theology, Philosophy, English Literature, German Literature, Communications, Musicology and Pedagogy.

The program "Cultures of Enlightenment" was designed by the Landesforschungsschwerpunkt "Aufklärung - Religion - Wissen" of Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg and is housed by the Interdisziplinäres Zentrum zur Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung (IZEA), an integral part of the university. Technically the program is part of the Philosophische Fakultät II but is also carried by professors of the Theologische Fakultät and the Philosophische Fakultät I and III. The program grew out of its predecessor "M.A. Aufklärung - Religion - Wissen" (120LP) which had been closed in Summer of 2014.

Which qualification will I gain through the program?

The Master's Program "Cultures of Enlightenment" is primarily research focused and yet it includes more practical application than most programs within the so called Humanities. Therefore it qualifies for both consecutive doctoral programs as well as positions in the areas of management of knowledge and educational or cultural institutions. The degree obtained generally allows graduates to apply for jobs in the publishing sector, the media or trainee programs in the industry.

People interested in pursuing a career within a cultural foundation or in the field of adult education will receive an excitingly broad overview over one of the most innovative epochs of cultural history while gaining hands-on experience within acclaimed national and international cultural institutions.

He or she who pursues an academic career will be trained in scientific methodology in a research center of international acclaim. He or she will be be able build on his knowledge in an intimate exchange with renowned national and international scholars.

He or she who has in interest in society and looks for a career in journalism will gain crucial insight into enlightened principals of our shared norms and institutions. Eventually he or she will better understand the initial formation of the modern general public and its application of reason.

Why Halle?

This middle-German region (Halle, Leipzig, Dessau, Weimar, Jena) had been a most productive landscape of the German enlightenment. One can still experience its huge enlightened influence today as he or she visits any of the many literature and art museums or historical archives and libraries.

Students will have the opportunity to satisfy their internship requirement within any of the following cultural institutions: Christian-Wolff-Haus Halle, Franckesche Stiftungen Halle, Kulturstiftung Dessau-Wörlitz (and Gartenreich), Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Gleimhaus Halberstadt, Klopstockhaus Quedlinburg, Lessing-Museum Kamenz, Rochow-Museum Reckahn, Novalis Museum Schloss Oberwiederstedt and Winckelmann-Museum Stendal.

Our proximity to important historical sides carries the advantage of a number of relevant archives and holdings to be in walking distance. We also ought to mention the libraries within the Franckesche Stiftungen and the IZEA where a significant portion of the historical stock is freely accessible.

A specialty: the practical portion of the program (Praxismodul)

Following their first year of study students will have the opportunity to chose their area of concentration within the broad range of partnering cultural institutions and their current research. Students will either intensify their skills by studying original documents or by transporting their knowledge to a broader audience.

The combination of conceptional and applied experience which is put to work within the wide array of partnering institutions in the course of study represents the special profile of the program. The practical portion of study (Praxismodul) complements the program's text based approach by an element of scientific learning that relates to visual and material culture and the medial interdependence therein.

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