Costa Rica Zentrum

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Who we are

© Universität Osnabrück / Elena Scholz

The Center holds a prominent position among the international cooperations of the University of Osnabrück and is mainly devoted to the research on future-oriented, value-based, intercultural and social issues and tasks, focusing primarily on the following fields: teaching and education, peace, economy, environment, biodiversity and sustainability.
Accordingly, the Center’s members come from disciplines and subjects like biology, educational studies, geography, Catholic theology, psychology, Romance studies, sports science and kinesiology as well as economics.
The comparison of two democracies that mirror the different cultural contexts of Europe and Latin America, Costa Rica and Germany, is of particular importance for the development and the comparison of recognised standards of intercultural relevance.

Research focus: values and human rights education

One of the Costa Rica Center’s focus areas within the field of education is the values and human rights education, which entails comparative research on empathy as well as justifications, forms and contents of a values education in the public education system (ranging from early childhood and school education to vocational training and the universities). Its goal is the definition of recognized and interculturally comparable standards for an empathy-based values and human rights education within the teacher education and professionalization. Aiming at a comparison between Latin America and Germany, the Costa Rica Center and its partner institutions specializing in values and human rights education work on the realization of their research projects within the higher education system.
Responsible expert: Dr. Susanne Müller-Using

Current projects:
From pedagogical knowledge to empathic action. An international comparison of university teacher education concepts.

Research focus: work and organizational psychology focusing on intercultural economic psychology

In the field of work and organizational psychology, particular importance is attached to the issue of corporate social responsibility (CSR). A vital role plays the individual psychology perspective on the one hand, and the intercultural comparison of the determinants and consequences of CSR on the other. Moreover, this field entails the topic of diversity in organizations, focusing on the search for preconditions for the realization of successful diversity strategies, as well as individual employee attitudes in terms of "readiness for diversity". Another concern is the examination of intercultural influences on various topics in the field of work and organizational psychology, e. g. employee bonding, employee satisfaction or work life balance.
Responsible expert:  Prof. Dr. Karsten Müller

Research focus: The importance of human rights discourses in the relationship between Latin America and the USA

Human rights discourses are of vital importance to Costa Rica’s political and cultural self-concept. Understanding the importance of human and civil rights for the consolidation of a democratic society is, apart from the economic relations, the main point of reference as well as the main identity factor between Costa Rica and the USA. The research focus examines Costa Rica’s prominent role in the relationship between the USA and Latin America, especially regarding the function of human rights discourses in the development of political and cultural identity, torn between democratization and globalization. From a historical perspective, the question of human rights in the countries’ political culture as well as in the intercultural dialogue between the USA and Costa Rica is examined, from the establishment of diplomatic relations (1851) to the present.      
Responsible expert: Prof. Dr. Peter Schneck  

Research focus: Memoria, compassion and peace: foundations for a peace theology within Liberation Theology

Our times are marked by violence, wars and several exclusion processes all around the world. Violence is also increasing in Latin American countries. In some regions, like Central America and Colombia, the repercussions of the civil war are conceivable openly as well as secretly. In other regions, violence increases in the form of delinquency, drug wars or youth unemployment. The recovery of the memoria of the historical violence from militaristic dictatorships and civil wars, still pending in many countries, keeps opening old wounds, peace is frail. In many networks, NGOs, Christian parish churches, as well as in the public space, Christians are committed to create "peace spaces". An explicit theology for peace has yet to be developed. The multiple liberation theologies that were created after the Second Vatican Council provide some starting points: the “compassion”, the “good living”, the “preferential option for the poor” and the “spirituality practices”, that can serve as “leitmotiv” for the elaboration of a peace theology.
Responsible expert: Prof. Dr. Margit Eckholt

Research focus: Regional literature and Central American cultures

Since approximately 10 years, research efforts, which centered mainly in cultural and literary aspects, have been increasingly interested in the Caribbean and Central American cultural spaces. Not only from the geographical point of view, but also political, economic and mainly cultural, Central America is characterized as a place between both hemispheres where different spheres of influence and power compete, but also superpose and mix. This research focus studies these superposition phenomena and takes into account the regional literatures and cultures, until now poorly considered, where indigenous and local, oral and written elements intertwine.
Responsible expert: Prof. Dr. Susanne Schlünder
Current projects:

Regional Literature of Central America

Newest Poetry from Latin America and the Caribbean (latinale.academica)

Research focus: Collaboration on vocational training

The interest in the German dual vocational training is internationally widespread. Also in Costa Rica, the development of a dual vocational training based on the German model is seen as an oportunity for a practical formation of young people. This is aimed at ensuring the professional demands in the country, by keeping pace with technical and economic progress and by increasing the employability of young people. With the focus of research in „Collaboration in vocational training“ the working group on vocational education and training from Osnabrück University looks not only to implement the dual training structure in different areas of the Costa Rican educational system, but also to examine with their expertise the qualifications from the pedagogical teaching personal as well as to establish a professorship for vocational training at the Universidad Técnica Nacional.
Responsible expert: Prof. Dr. Thomas Bals

Current projects: Fortalecimiento del sistema educativo en la modalidad dual, para la promoción del desarrollo del talento humano y la empleabilidad de la población joven de Costa Rica

Research focus: Healthcare for chronic patients and elderly people

The optimization of the national health system and its components with regard to a patient-oriented and adequate management is critical in order to promote, restore and protect the health of all demographic groups.
The focal point of this research depicts the description and analysis of the healthcare for chronic patients and elderly people in Costa Rica and Germany, as well the adaptation of the insights in the day-to-day provision of the patients’ care from both countries. For this new empirically-based therapeutic, medical and social concepts are developed, new associated care concepts explored as well as the efficacy of care structures and processes of day-to-day conditions evaluated.
Responsible expert: Prof. Dr. Hartmut Remmers

Current projects: Development of concepts for clinical palliative treatment and for chronic terminal patients in Costa Rica