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Mission Statement

A Research Training Group (in German Graduiertenkolleg: GRK) is established to promote researchers in the early stages of their academic careers and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a maximum period of 9 years. In GRKs, the 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 in three years. Each cohort will study the four key topics stated above under the research agenda in the first four semesters. The discussion will take place in the GRK’s colloquium, in seminars and workshops. The PhD researchers will also be able to participate in shaping the course of study and will be encouraged to invite guests doing work on their topics of interest. In the third year, the PhD students will mostly be freed of work within the group so that they can focus on composing their dissertation. Post-docs will be tasked with supporting doctoral candidates in developing a course of study as a group and carrying out their dissertation research; they will also work to ensure that the GRK’s focus remains continuous and coherent throughout the different cohorts.

Since qualification through (post-)doctoral research and supervision are 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:

Interdisciplinarity and the role of theory

We understand our GRK as a space within which the involved 10 disciplines shall be enriching for 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 the fundamental structure of normative practices, enabling them to take a common 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 will foster 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.


Conviviality and Team Play

In an academic environment that is ever more dominated by competitiveness and individual careers, we try to create a space that is conducive to collaborative work. This entails a recognition of the intersubjective nature of knowledge production and a reflection on the relation between researching and researched subjects. It also means committing to a continuous reflection of hierarchies among scholars in different positions, and of complex relations of power and domination.


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 strongly dependent on cultural, economic, and social capital. We encourage applications from the Global South. We committee to the idea of making implicit knowledge explicit - To clarify expectations and administrative procedures, to welcome researches from a different academic system or class origins. 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 as means to contribute to the discussion. The GRK will demand at least a passive understanding of German. We will offer financial help 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 GRKs 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 an transdisciplinary outreach.