What is the Silent University Ruhr ?

The Silent University Ruhr is an independent platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge for immigrants, especially refugees and asylum seekers. These refugees who migrate to Germany cannot exercise their knowledge, skills and abilities because their papers are often not recognized or allowed to function within the system.

The Silent University Ruhr is a performing art since it provides a stage for the re-enactment of different facets of the life of immigrants; their past experiences, their cultural heritage, their academic knowledge and so on. Often these experiences remain excluded, in the past of their former life, before their flight. They are now not allowed to officially practice their profession because of their resulting social status as refugees. In the Silent University, we reenact the lost (professional) identities of the persons they teach before their flight in their mother tongue. We are convinced that life itself is a stage, and all daily activities of human beings can be brought on that stage that we provide.

The initiative of the Silent University, founded in 2012 by the Kurdish artist Ahmet Öğüt who became aware of the fate of refugees and asylum seekers with an academic background, has an objective to put an end to the enforced silence of these refugees.

The Silent University, initiated in London, now has sister universities in Stockholm, Hamburg, Berlin, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Istanbul. The objective of the Silent University is to enable the exchange of knowledge by encouraging members to hold lectures, give workshops, and do artistic exhibitions. The SUR creates an exchange platform between migrants and the German society but also among migrants. Therefore, the Silent University is a good vehicle for integration into the German socio-cultural arena, which gives these migrants hopes & dreams for the future.

The Silent University Ruhr was first established in the Ruhr region in 2015 as a co-production of Ringlokschuppen Ruhr and Urbane Künste Ruhr as part of the Impulse Theatre Festival. As a long-term project of the two partners, it was initially made permanent until 2020 and then continued under the sole responsibility of Ringlokschuppen Ruhr.

The Knowledge Exchange area

The knowledge exchange section organizes and allows migrants to share their experiential and professional knowledge. This forum that serves as a platform for the reenactment of knowledge is open to members of the public in all disciplines, from the fundamental works of art to the very highest academic. Illustratively, we have had presentations on water painting and from a medical professional. This is a significant wing of the SUR because it helps boost immigrants’ confidence and demonstrates that they have something to bring to the host community. Like the other units, the exchange platform creates a network between migrants and the rest of their community. Finally, it shows that different cultures have different ways of performing arts and other forms of knowledge.

Information and Counseling service

This counselling service is open to the public and has the advantage that it operates in four languages: Pidgin English, English, French, German. A Silent University worker sits in the vier.zentrale and answers questions, gives advice, and issues directives to members of the public who come in with questions. For example, migrants from different countries and nationalities are given information on German laws/policies, issues on migration, economic activities, social/educational issues.

The translation & interpretation unit

We accept and encourage the reenactment & communication of different languages and cultures.

The Silent University Ruhr believes that language should not be a barrier to people’s abilities, which is why all SUR activities are translated into at least three world languages. To manage our translation services, we have organized a pool of translators who work with us regularly and are part of the SUR. As further training, we also plan to organize training workshops and refresher courses for translators and interpreters.

Gender and Empowerment section

This sector comprises an Intercultural Academic Women Empowerment Network (W.E.I.N) & the Intercultural Men's Matrix. The Silent University Ruhr has dedicated itself to acculturation, enlightenment, and empowerment of immigrant women & men. The SUR gender section encourages intergender activities that allow men and women to work together.

We have created a network between women and men from different educational, cultural, professional and social backgrounds. Men and women can share ideas and seek common solutions to common problems. This initiative that involves diverse groups of members in the SUR projects helps improve the socio-economic situation of members through practical assistance. It provides a common platform for immigrant women and men to integrate themselves more into the socio-economic life of Mülheim an der Ruhr. Members connect and share ideas, and experiences, on how to achieve their migratory dreams in Germany.

Networking & Event Management (Spread the wor(l)d)

We encourage networking because we believe it is through this that we can sell our convictions and reach out to as many people as possible. Here we organized visits to other groups and associations in neighbouring cities such as Essen, Duisburg, and Dortmund, where we meet groups to talk on different themes. We have also participated in international programs, such as our visit to Rome and Matera, where we were part of a program on how migrants and refugees can improve their educational facilities via better networking with other groups and associations. We have an online forum for our members where we reach out to diverse men and women.

The sector for Artistic & Intercultural exchange

In this sector, we encourage the exchange of artistic and cultural diversity by having expositions of multicultural works of art and traditional creative techniques and learning the history of different cultures by sharing artistic traditions and knowledge. The SUR provides this forum for artistic & cultural exchanges by hosting various activities held by diverse artists, which also involves our members in creative ventures.

Specific activities carried out so far

  • Workshops
  • Presentations
  • Discussion forums
  • Training programs
  • Intercultural exchanges
  • Networking Programs
  • Regularly meetings of women's & men's groups
Polynice Ringlokschuppen Dezentrale 18 05 2018 8 Von 30, Copyright Björn Stork | polynice

Contact ​Silent University Ruhr​

Dr. Bridget Ngencho Fonkeu


Leineweberstr. 15–17
45468 Mülheim an der Ruhr
Geöffnet Mo, Mi 10–13 Uhr, Do 14–17 Uhr
sowie nach Absprache

Tel.: 0208 - 993 16 78

Im Rahmen des Förderprogramms „Neue Wege“ wird die Silent University Ruhr vom Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen in Zusammenarbeit mit dem NRWKULTURsekretariat gefördert

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