The Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS)” is a research consortium that analyses the contemporary controversies about the model of liberal democracy and the market economy from a historical, global, and comparative perspective. SCRIPTS has been operating since 2019 and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) until the end of 2025. SCRIPTS aims to contribute to contemporary debates in the social sciences on the crisis of democracy, the crisis of borders, the crisis of capitalism and the crisis of sustainability. The term “liberal script” relates to a set of ideas and institutional prescriptions about how society is organised based on the core principle of individual self-determination. The main purpose of SCRIPTS is to understand why the liberal model of order has fallen into crisis despite its political, economic, and social achievements.
Network of Partners
SCRIPTS unites eight major Berlin-based research institutions that share responsibilities in managing projects and resources. It is hosted by the Freie Universität Berlin and cooperates with the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin), the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, the Hertie School, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), the Berlin branch of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS), and the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO).
Scientists from 17 disciplines and numerous countries analyse contestations, contradictions, and developments of the liberal script worldwide. Cluster research teams are made up of doctoral researchers, post-doctoral researchers, and professors from social and area studies. Research projects are linked to at least one thematic “Research Unit”, of which there are four (“Borders”, “Orders”, “Re-Allocation” and “Temporality”). The two Junior Research Groups (JRG) and SCRIPTS’ cross-cutting units (the “Theory Network” (TN), the “Data and Methodology Center” (DMC) and the “Knowledge Exchange Lab” (KEL)) contribute to the research.
International Collaboration and Early Career Development
As an interdisciplinary research consortium, SCRIPTS connects academic expertise in the social sciences and area studies and collaborates with twenty-one research institutions in all world regions.
To foster international academic cooperation and to provide early career development, the Berlin International College of Research and Graduate Training (BIRT) has been established for SCRIPTS. It hosts the SCRIPTS doctoral programme and brings renowned visiting scholars to Berlin.
Beyond that, SCRIPTS is well connected with research institutes and knowledge exchange partners, including the Humboldt Lab at the Humboldt Forum Berlin and the German Federal Foreign Office, with whom the Knowledge Exchange Lab has partnered with on several projects. Such collaborative enterprises are aimed at fostering a mutual exchange of knowledge.
Cluster of Excellence
SCRIPTS is one of seven “Clusters of Excellence” situated in Berlin and funded by the German Research Foundation – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) over a time span of seven years. The Clusters of Excellence are part of the Excellence Strategy, a programme by German federal and state governments that promotes outstanding research collaborations to further strengthen top-level university research in Germany.
For more information
- Download the summary for an overview of the SCRIPTS research programme in English (PDF for download)
- Download the factsheet for facts and figures in German and English (PDF for download)
- See the governance chart for an overview of SCRIPTS’ governance structure
- Subscribe to the quarterly SCRIPTS newsletter to receive regular updates