Since 2001, Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse heads the Center for Transnational Relations, Foreign and Security Policy which was founded in 1986 as the Center for Transatlantic Foreign and Security Policy by Prof. Dr. Helga Haftendorn.
The Center focuses on theory-guided empirical research of trans- and international relations. The issue areas addressed by the various members of staff and fellows cover global governance, German foreign policy, European security, and transatlantic relations.
Currently and for the next years, the Collaborative Research Center SFB 700 “Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood: New Modes of Governance?”, established in 2006 and funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) constitutes the central framework for the Center's research. Thomas Risse is the co-ordinator of this Research Center.
A1 (Project Director Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse) serves as an umbrella project spanning the individual projects that make up the SFB 700. Its purpose is to bring together research of the different projects and to integrate their results. A1 aims to build on the findings of the various projects and identify more general patterns while also further developing the concept of governance. To this end, A1 coordinates the three interdisciplinary working groups on governance, spaces of governance, and normative questions. During the second funding period of the SFB 700, project A1 focuses mainly on three research areas:
1. Analysis of the transferability of western forms of governance to areas of limited statehood. What kinds of transfer occur? How and under what conditions is (and was) transfer possible? Who are the agents of transfer? How does the transfer process shape its content? How do diffusion processes work? Which dynamics of adaption, resistance, and translation can be found?
2. Assessment of the normative implications of these processes (transfer, adaption, etc). For instance, is the conditionality of international organizations’ development aid legitimate? What are the normative implications of western legal experts (co-)writing the Afghan or Iraqi constitution?
3. Stocktaking and evaluation of existing political science data bases and failed states indices in order to integrate them into a meta-database framework. It is essential to differentiate systematically between indicators of governance and indicators of statehood, which normally does not take place.
The Center is also engaged in research and teaching with regard to the European Union (EU). The focal point of these activities is the Research College (Kolleg-Forschergruppe) "The Transformative Power of Europe" which is also funded by the German Research Foundation and directed by Prof. Dr. Tanja A. Börzel as well as Thomas Risse.
The Center's staff and fellows are teaching undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate classes as part of the study programs of the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science (OSI) at the Department of Politics and Social Sciences of the FU Berlin. The Center is in charge of coordinating teaching in the field of International Relations. Moreover, it is engaged in the Master of Arts program in International Relations offered in cooperation with Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Universität Potsdam, as well as in the Euromasters / Transatlantic Masters program offered in conjunction with Humboldt Universität. Last not least, the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies has to be mentioned in this context offering a structured PhD. program in international relations in cooperation with the Hertie School of Governance and the Social Science Research Center Berlin.
The Center's outreach goes far beyond the FU and Berlin area due to its public events, expert seminars, the incorporation of foreign students and visiting scholars as well as its staff’s and fellows' activities at international conferences and within international research projects and networks.
The results springing from the various projects are published by German and international publishing houses. In addition, the Center features its own publication series, the "Research Reports International Politics" ("Forschungsberichte Internationale Politik").