Cross-border collaboration in Classical & Ancient Studies
Twenty years ago, four of the universities united through Eucor – The European Campus founded the Collegium Beatus Rhenanus.
The Collegium Beatus Rhenanus (CBR) is a Classical & Ancient Studies research and teaching network from the universities united through Eucor – The European Campus. Prof. Dr. Astrid Möller (Department of Ancient History Freiburg) took over the two-year presidency on November 30, 2018. We spoke with her about the Collegium and its projects.
Ms. Möller, what makes working together on Classical & Ancient Studies in the Upper Rhine so attractive?
Astrid Möller: Working together in the field of Classical & Ancient Studies in the Upper Rhine region is a good idea due to the close proximity of all four universities. Classical & Ancient Studies are defined in an interdisciplinary way by combining philological, historical and archaeological methods. Together, we have a wider range of disciplines at our disposal. Ancient history exists at all four universities that joined together 20 years ago to form the CBR – in Basel, Freiburg, Haute-Alsace and Strasbourg. However, there are subjects that are not represented at all universities, such as Near Eastern Archaeology or Egyptology. The CBR includes classical philologies, ancient history and archaeological sciences, which are divided according to time and culture. I come from ancient history, but without cooperation from the fields of philology and archaeology, especially from other scientific traditions as they are represented here in the border triangle, many questions could not otherwise be resolved.
How is it that such a broad spectrum can be found here on the Upper Rhine?
I think it is due to the old universities located here in which classical philology, ancient history and classical as well as provincial Roman archaeology are richly cultivated. Apart from that, interdisciplinarity is imperative for small subjects that would otherwise remain isolated. Hence the CBR’s open approach: all scholars who are interested in antiquity are welcome. There is a critical mass of interested people at all participating universities who are willing to get involved and discuss the issues. The CBR as a living institution can only be supported by the activity of individuals.
The CBR is not only a research network, but a teaching one too. What can you offer students?
In 2006, we jointly established the trinational master’s degree in Classical & Ancient Studies, one of the oldest master’s programs in Freiburg. It was quite a feat to combine three different university systems into one. Everyone receives a degree from their home university and is required to attend courses at the partner universities. The requirements are quite high, as we not only require the old languages, but also good German-French bilingualism. As a result, we always have students from Luxembourg. In addition to the master’s degree program, we also integrate young talent into our research projects. As part of our new project, we will soon be offering a winter school for master’s students and doctoral candidates from the region.
What are some of CBR’s current projects?
Particularly in archaeology, research repeatedly refers to the region here on the Upper Rhine. In a medieval archaeology project, findings from a cemetery in Niedernai, Alsace, dating from the 5th century, are being investigated. This summer we decided on a new CBR project that will be dedicated to the topic “Worldviews – Concepts of Space and Time”. Everyone orients themselves in space and time. At least in the northern hemisphere they all see the same sky, but the concepts linked to it are culture-specific. Even when it comes to measuring time, people find culture-specific solutions. We would like to sound them out for the different cultural areas: How do the concepts differ and where are there similarities? How closely are the concepts of space and time linked? I initiated this project as a priority during my presidency. It is interdisciplinary, but we are also trying to create a transdisciplinary approach by methodically reflecting on the interdisciplinary issues and devoting ourselves to the general aspect of the interplay of theory and experience.