Concept of Qualification
A Graduiertenkolleg (GRK) is established to promote researchers at an early stage of their academic career, it is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a maximum period of 9 years. An englisch translation of this term is Research Training Group. For reasons of coherence, we stick to the German acronym. GRKs emphasis is on the qualification of doctoral researchers within the framework of a focused research program and a structured training strategy. The course of study is tailored to enable doctoral candidates to complete their dissertations within three years. During the first four semesters, each cohort will discuss the four key topics stated above. The discussion will take place in the GRK’s colloquium, in seminars and workshops. The PhD researchers will participate in shaping the course of study and will be encouraged to invite guests working on their topics of interest. In the third year, the PhD students will mostly be exempted from the group work so that they can focus on composing and finalizing their dissertation. Post-Docs are encouraged to do independent research within the framework of the GRK. With their more entailing research projects, Post-Docs will support doctoral candidates in sharpening the coursework and the guest program. Post-Docs also ensure that the GRK’s focus remains coherent throughout the different cohorts.
Since qualification through (post-)doctoral research and supervision is inevitably entwined with thematic questions, the GRK 2638 aims to pursue an interdisciplinary and progressive micro-space for the doctoral and post-doctoral to conduct their study. These aims include:
Conviviality and team play
In an academic environment that is ever more dominated by competitiveness and elbow mentality, we try to create a space that is productive for collaborative work. We conceive of ourselves as a learning community. This entails recognition of the intersubjective nature of knowledge production and committing to a continuous reflection of hierarchies among scholars in different positions. The participation in the GRK will require a sense of community as an epistemic value. The set-up of 10 different disciplines taken together to create one forum is as demanding as ambitious. To render this set-up fruitful, we will have to make sure that unproductive forms of self-promotion by any member of the GRK can be addressed.
Interdisciplinarity and the role of theory
Despite all differences in method and phenomena, what all disciplines involved in the GRK have in common is their origin in the field of humanities. We understand our GRK as a space in which the 10 disciplines involved shall enrich one another and thereby challenge the researchers to think beyond small scale understandings of disciplinary cohesion. Within the GRK, PhD as well as Post-Doc researchers, will convene a forum that fosters group discussion on fundamental structures of normative practices, enabling them to take a theoretical perspective on their respective topics of research. This dialogue should enable the members of the group to better grasp the specific differences of their objects of research in regard to the structure in question and should help them improve their ability to articulate these differences. In this way, the group aims at fostering the development of new theoretical approaches in the disciplines involved. That is the reason why the GRK seeks to attract PhD students interested in taking a more theoretical approach within their disciplines.
Since knowledge is always situated knowledge, academic collaboration implies taking into account different positionalities with respect to ethnics, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and other social categories. Our understanding of discrimination is intersectional and refuses to establish hierarchies between different forms of oppression. We recognize that access to academic practices such as a GRK is dependent on cultural, economic, and social capital. We commit to the idea of making implicit knowledge explicit - To clarify expectations and administrative procedures, to welcome researchers from a different academic system or different class origins. We encourage applications from the Global South. We offer workshops on Diversity and Critical Practice in Academia. Finally, we have installed a conflict counsellor (Ombudsperson) deliberately positioned outside of the structures of the GRK who can be approached with all matters of structural discrimination and unproductive forms of disagreement.
As stated above, we seek to attract international researchers who are interested in taking a more theoretical approach. Given that theory is essentially tied to language we aim to establish a bilingual space. English and German will be equal means for contribution to the discussion. The GRK will demand at least a passive understanding of rather sophisticated German. We will offer support for those who will need to catch up.
Social commitment and academic intervention
We understand research as a contribution to the critique, reflection, and transformation of social injustices. This means that we see academic work itself as an important intervention in dominant discourses. The GRK will take an interdisciplinary approach to grasp the ways in which critical reflection might be understood as a constitutive component of social practices and their dynamics. The GRK wants to train young researchers by equipping them with novel perspectives on their disciplines and the requisite skills to present their work within the academy and also for a transdisciplinary outreach.