For nearly 60 years, Indiana University and Universität Hamburg (UHH) have collaborated on research, exchanged students and faculty, and strengthened both universities’ contributions to their regions. The top tier research universities’ partnership continues this year through Universität Hamburg’s Next Generation Partnership (NGP) Thematic Networks, a multilateral research funding program administered by the Department of International Affairs that seeks to expand long-term investment in research with strategic partners.
2023 marks the second round of the three-year grant cycles, with Indiana University participating in four research collaborations since the NGP’s inception—half of all funded projects. Led by Prof. Dr. Juliane Degner of Universität Hamburg Social Psychology and Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Brigitte Röder of Universität Hamburg Biological Psychology and Neuropsychology, Indiana University Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Kurt Hugenberg and Prof. Dr. Gijs Bijlstra of Radboud University Nijmegen, aim to answer the question How does social categorization and stereotyping affect emotion perception in faces? The NGP funding will support this research through 2026 as the faculty work towards designing and implementing research to answer this universally applicable question.
Indiana University professor Hugenberg explains the basics of the research that has already been completed and how the funding provided by the NGP grant will broaden the scope of the project. “We’ve found that when facial expressions are ambiguous, we use our stereotypes to read others’ emotions. This can distort how we read both simple and complex expressions… Our research as part of the Next Generation Partnership will help us better understand the nature and extent of these misunderstandings across multiple countries.”
Leading the collaboration, Prof. Dr. Degner shares a similar sentiment on how the partnership allows for a more comprehensive approach to the universally applicable topic. “The NGP presented an excellent opportunity to initiate a research collaboration with Kurt Hugenberg from Indiana University, a prominent social psychologist specializing in the interplay between social categorization effects and emotion processing. By securing funding for a network including Gijs Bijlstra, social psychologist from Nijmegen and Brigitte Röder, neuroscientist from Hamburg, rather than pursuing single bilateral collaborations, we can bring together a broader spectrum of theoretical and practical expertise. This, in turn, holds the promise of advancing research in both social psychology and socio-neuroscience.
In 2021, Indiana University faculty from the School of Liberal Arts in Indianapolis, Luddy School of Informatics and Computing, and College of Arts and Sciences’ Departments of Biology and Linguistics participated in NGP Thematic Networks. One of the projects, Digital Language Variation in Context (DiLCo), is a part of a broader partnership that explores how language changes over time in digital contexts—like social media—and includes partners across Europe. One of the goals of the NGP is to build sustainable partnerships that outlast the initial funding period, exemplified with DiLCo’s success. The partnership already plans on conducting continued teaching and research collaborations over the summer of 2024 after the initial funding period is complete.
Another 2021 project studied not the effects of climactic change on the plants, animals, and bacteria—collectively called biota—but how they affect their environments and ecosystems. The Partnership for research on biota-climate-feedbacks (PERICLES), resulted in a conference hosted in Hamburg in May 2023, with plans to send a researcher to Indiana University’s Bloomington campus.
The Next Generation Partnership is just one example of the many creative research and funding opportunities available through strategic partner institutions like Universität Hamburg. NGPs emphasis on requiring international collaboration makes it a unique opportunity to build upon IU and UHH’s long history of shared expertise. The program is administered by UHH, but financing comes from the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Laender, a national and locally funded strategy to “strengthen cutting-edge research” across Germany. The success of IU faculty collaborators in this program point to the strong emphasis on innovative research that both universities share.
(c) Torsten Szobries
In addition to meeting with President Whitten on her visit to Europe in 2022, this November IU hosted UHH President Hauke Heekeren in Bloomington, further affirming the partnership. President Heekeren was joined by UHH colleagues Silke Segler-Meßner (Dean of the Faculty of Humanities), Claus Krieger (Vice Dean for Research, Graduate Education and Internationalization of the Faculty of Education), Konrad Hirschler (Director of the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures), and Courtney Peltzer-Hönicke (Head, Department of International Affairs). The delegation met with colleagues from around IU to discuss existing partnerships and investigate how the longstanding relationship can deepen in the coming years.
Dr. Miguel E. Ayllon, Associate Vice President for International Affairs enjoyed this month’s visit. “Building on the foundation of decades of partnership, I welcome President Heekeren and the UHH delegation wholeheartedly. The research strength and expertise between our two universities will undoubtedly lead to further fruitful collaborations beyond the current NGP project.”
While this round of funding is closed, IU faculty are encouraged to reach out to the Seth Walker, director for international partnerships, and visiting the faculty funding page of IU Global’s website to identify opportunities with UHH—and other institutional partners—for future collaborations.