Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Comparative Political Sciences and Political Systems of Eastern Europe

CONSTRESS - Constitutionalism under Stress

CONSTRESS is a genuinely interdisciplinary endeavor, bringing together political scientists, political philosophers, sociologists and lawyers. It includes jointly taught seminars and workshops, open to MA- and PhD-students from different disciplines at Princeton and Humboldt University.

Research Focus: Constitutionalism under Stress


Since the global boom of democratic constitution-making and constitutional reform in the 1990s, abroad legal and political debate centered around the crucial importance of constitutional law as a means of protecting transnational fundamental rights and promoting democracy. In recent years, however, the flip side of this "new constitutionalism" has also become visible: If the political context changes in an unfavorable (i.e. iliberal or populist) direction, constitutions, it seems, can in fact be used as tools to re-establish and strengthen authoritarianism. Besides, constitutions may com under stress where different levels of constitutional politics (national, sub- and supra-national) overlap and sometimes contradict each other. These dangers have been visible both in Europe and the Americas, crying out for a careful comparative approach. Whereas constitutions largely fall into the area of expertise of legal scholars, they are increasingly also part of political and social science research. CONSTRESS proposes a combination of normative, legal and social scientific research to develop a more nuanced understanding of constitutionalism's contemporary crises.


The Organizers

Anna-Bettina Kaiser, Professor of Public Law at Humboldt University

Jan-Werner Mueller, Professor of Political Theory at Princeton University

Silvia von Steinsdorff, Professor of Comparative Politics at Humboldt University



July 2018: "Constitutionalism, Dissent, and Resistance", Humboldt University Berlin

Juli 2018: "Constitutionalism, Dissent, and Resistance", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

March 2019: "The Other ‘Transitology’: Pathways into and out of Authoritarianism in the Twenty-First Century – Empirical and Normative Perspectives.", Princeton University

June 2019: "Free Speech in Troubled Times", Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

June 2020: "Democratic and Constitutional Resilience", Online

June 2021: "Executives and Emergencies: Normative, Legal, and Empirical Transatlantic Perspective", Online

Juli 2022: “Executives and Emergencies: Normative, Legal, and Empirical Transatlantic Perspective”, Berlin

September/Oktober 2022: “Political Parties and Other Associations from Historical, Legal, and Normative Perspectives”, Princeton


Here is an example of a student podcast produced for our last Workshop "Executives and Emergencies: Normative, Legal, and Empirical Transatlantic Perspective". The podcast's topic is "The use of states of emergency in the context of natural disasters and climate change" and it was produced by Marie-Lou Laprise and Tessa Porter.


Theme music: "Werq" by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License (