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About the Mercator Research Centre

The Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning represents an internationally recognized, independent reference centre, where policy makers and stakeholders can obtain information and advice about multilingual education, policy and legislation in Europe, based on academic research. 

The Mercator Research Centre is part of the European Mercator Network and is hosted by the Fryske Akademy (Frisian Academy), the centre for scientific research on all aspects of Frisian language, history and culture. The Fryske Akademy is affiliated with the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW).

Map of Europe from Atlas sive Cosmographicae by Gerardus Mercator (1595). Image source: mapsys.info

Mission

The mission of the Mercator Research Centre is the acquisition and inventory, research and study, dissemination and application of knowledge in the field of language learning at school, at home and through cultural participation. Its work is mostly focused on the regional and minority languages in Europe, but immigrant languages and smaller state languages are also topics of study. 

The Mercator Research Centre is situated in the minority-language province of Fryslân (Friesland). As a research institute, the centre wants to make use of the excellent opportunities the Frisian situation has to offer as a living laboratory on multilingualism. At the same time, Mercator makes state-of-the-art research and interesting developments from other minority-language regions available to relevant stakeholders in Fryslân.

In other words, the Mercator Research Centre brings Fryslân to Europe and Europe to Fryslân. 

Products

For those interested in minority language (education), Mercator has various products on offer, such as: 

  • Our long-running series of Regional Dossiers focus on the educational system in European regions and the Russian Federation that have an autochthonous lesser-used language, and on how the lesser-used language is embedded in this system. 
  • Even more information can be found in various reports and publications. Mercator Research Centre is also available for commissioned research.
  • The Database of Experts contains around 600 experts on various topics relating to minority languages, multilingualism and language education.
  • The monthly Mercator Newsletter contains interesting news from the Research Centre and an overview of upcoming events.

History

Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning began in 1987 as Mercator Education, one of the institutions of the Mercator Network. The foundation of the Mercator Network was initiated by the European Commission and the direct result of two resolutions by the European Parliament: the ‘Kuijpers resolution’ (Resolution on the languages and cultures of regional and ethnic minorities in the European Community) and the 'Arfé resolution'. 

In the following 20 years the network was subsidized through earmarked funding (sometimes matched by host organisations in regional and minority language regions, such as the Fryske Akademy). After an extension funding programme called 'action programme' in 2004 – 2006, this earmarked funding ended. Currently, Mercator European Research Centre receives an annual subsidy from the province of Fryslân, which funds part of the day-to-day operations. A substantial part of the work is financed through temporary project funding.