A "Northern Campus" for France & Francophonie

It will be the most northern francophone center in Germany: Three Romance scholars from the Universities of Bremen, Flensburg, and Rostock are founding "CaNoFF - Northern Campus for France & Francophonie" in the three northern German states.

The aim of the new cross-university alliance is to initiate, support, and increase the visibility of France and Francophonie-related research, teaching, and science outreach activities of the participating universities. This visibility is intended to open the doors of the North for new contacts. CaNoFF explicitly sees itself as an interdisciplinary science platform. In particular, the teaching and research areas that deal with culture, society, politics, and economics will play a significant role. The members of CaNoFF include not only researchers, but also personalities from politics and society in the participating cities as well as from partner institutions such as the Institut Français or the French Embassy in Berlin.

In Bremen, the founding of the network was celebrated on Thursday, June 8, at a ceremony attended by around 80 guests in the ballroom of the city hall.

"The transfer of knowledge is a central building block of our academic policy," says Dr. Claudia Schilling, Senator for Science and Ports. "That is why I consider the broad social approach of the new network to be very important and hope that a lively and in-depth exchange with as many civil society, cultural, and economic stakeholders as possible will emerge. With the Northern Campus for France & Francophonie, the university is expanding and sharpening its profile of centers with a regional focus."

"The cooperation will make a broad range of French and francophone literature and culture visible in northern Germany," emphasizes the University of Bremen's President, Professor Jutta Günther. "I am very pleased that the University of Bremen is participating in the establishment of this francophone center in northern Germany. CaNoFF will enrich research, teaching, and transfer on France and Francophonie in Northern Germany."

"For many decades, so-called francophone centers have existed in Germany at various university locations, facilitating German-French academic, cultural, and economic dialog," explains Professor Karen Struve from the University of Bremen, who is the spokesperson for the new network. "Until now, there was no university with a francophone center in the entire northern German region – the northernmost centers were in Mainz and Berlin. CaNoFF is now changing that."

"CaNoFF is planning a whole range of different formats and forums for this exchange, either organized individually or jointly by the three locations. In addition to academic conferences and workshops, study days, excursions, and theme days focusing on French studies for students and pupils, the network will also include public formats such as concerts, discussion events, readings with authors and artists, and exhibitions," says Professor Stephanie Wodianka from the University of Rostock, outlining some of the specific plans of the inter-university network.

Professor Margot Brink from the European University of Flensburg explains why such an alliance is also of importance in the north: "In the north, the history of relations with France is often less known and less present than in the south of Germany. Yet large areas of the north were even French during the so-called French period in the early 19th century. In particular, the hanseatic and trading cities in the north have a long and not entirely unproblematic history with overseas – and, of course, with areas where French is spoken."

In the 21st century, it is impossible to imagine the effects and mobility of globalization without looking beyond Europe. As the fifth world language, French is spoken in 29 countries on five continents – Europe, America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

"The exchange with people from the Francophonie is so important to us at our northern German universities that we are founding a network with joint events and a joint management," explains managing director Dr. Ina Schenker from the University of Bremen. "For the first time, this will make clear across disciplines how diverse the research contacts and activities with French-speaking countries already are at the three universities. These include not only binational degree programs with France, but also study exchange programs and international research projects with Francophone universities around the world – and by no means only in the field of French, but also in chemistry, engineering, media sciences, and mathematics."

Further opening ceremonies:

June 14, 2023, at Phänomenta, Flensburg (Prof. Dr. Margot Brink, European University Flensburg)
June 20, 2023, in the University of Rostock auditorium (Prof. Dr. Stephanie Wodianka, University of Rostock).

Further Information: (in German only)


Prof. Dr. Karen Struve
Faculty 10: Linguistics and Literary Studies
Romance Studies
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-68423

Prof. Margot Brink, Prof. Karen Struve, Dr. Schilling, Prof. Stephanie Wodianka und Prof. Jutta Günther (v.l.).
From the left: Prof. Margot Brink, Prof. Karen Struve, Dr. Schilling, Prof. Stephanie Wodianka und Prof. Jutta Günther