Practitioners in talk #Part9

Veröffentlicht am 17. September 2020

:: Non-academic careers ::

Practitioners in talk #Part 9

Many roads lead out of the BGHS. But where do paths lead to after the doctorate? In the summer semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have taken up their profession outside the university. Devrimsel Nergiz spoke to us about her work as managing director of the Federal Immigration and Integration Council.

Devrimsel Nergiz © private

Devrimsel, you did your doctorate at the BGHS in 2012 and are now working as managing director of the Federal Immigration and Integration Council (BZI). If you remember when you started your career: How did you find your way into the job?

Devrimsel Nergiz: I must say that I was able to gain practical experience at a relatively early stage. I started working for a member of the Bundestag during my doctorate, and towards the end of my doctorate this led to another position for me. I really enjoyed working in the Bundestag because I was able to experience and help shape various perspectives of political practice. At the same time I was able to integrate scientific impulses, approaches and concepts into political work.

Where are you working now outside the university?

Devrimsel Nergiz: I am managing director and project manager of the BZI and its support association. The BZI is the nationwide association of the regional organisations of municipal integration, migration and foreigners advisory boards. The BZI stands for 6,000 politically active people with a history of immigration in about 400 democratically legitimized municipal migration advisory boards in almost all German states and is thus a symbol of lived democracy and a culture of responsibility that works even without a German passport. We work across religious, ethnic and party lines. The expansion of the possibilities of political participation of migrants and the sensitization for the different possibilities of participation within the liberal-democratic basic order are a special concern of ours. To this end, we are in close dialogue with the German federal government, ministries, members of the German Bundestag, and national and state institutions such as federal and state centers for political education, broadcasting corporations, and civil society organizations.

What does your work look like now?

Devrimsel Nergiz: My task is to support the organisation on the one hand in building up its office in terms of structure, personnel and strategy and on the other hand to represent the organisation to the outside world. This includes, among other things, developing new projects in order to act more independently and sustainably; setting political priorities for our vision of helping Germany become a more democratic, diverse society - but also purely organizational matters such as project, event and personnel management, public relations and networking. My previous professional positions help me a lot in structuring political lobbying and association work, because I know how the political business and science tick.

What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology or history who are interested in a career in your profession?

Devrimsel Nergiz: Being open and willing to learn is very important to me. For me, this also includes putting aside a bit of the vanity of the academy. Important work for the society/societies is done at the grassroots level. To paraphrase Karl Marx: you have to dare to change, instead of just interpreting the world differently.

Devrimsel, thank you for the conversation.

The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.

The complete conversation is available here (only in German):

Komplettversion als PDF

Further information about the project "Non-university careers" is available (here), previous interviews in the series (here).

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Scholarships for Practical Projects

Veröffentlicht am 31. August 2020

The BGHS fosters PhD candidatesʼ individual career planning and invites applications for up to four scholarships for Practical Projects, starting in January, February, or March 2021. The Scholarships have a duration of three months. Applications must be submitted by 15 October 2020.

Practical Projects offer doctoral researchers the opportunity to compare and further develop their own skills, experience and goals with the requirements and circumstances of a potential professional field – and to discuss these issues both with colleagues at university, and with social scientists and humanists that started their careers beyond university.

You can find the call for applications here (Link). On 1 October, a meeting to inform about practical projects will take place at the BGHS-Lounge (X-B2-109) at 2:15 pm. Information on Practical Projects is available on BGHSʼ website as well: (Link).

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Dominik Hofmann: Via DAAD Scholarship to Mexico

Veröffentlicht am 29. Juli 2020

It has been almost exactly one year since the moment I was informed that I had received the DAAD scholarship I had applied for to spend half a year at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City in order to advance the work on my dissertation. I was informed that I had been given the Gustav-Schübeck-Scholarship (Link), which is awarded by the DAAD Foundation, an affiliate to the DAAD e.V.
The amount of the grant, adapted to the cost of living in the destination country, was generous and enabled me to travel to different parts of the country, which helped me enormously in my work. I was given much independence in organizing my stay. Taking care of the flight, the accommodation, the contact with the host university and my life and project planning on site were left up to me, but were covered by the scholarship or by corresponding additional lump sums transferred monthly to me. I found it very pleasant to have this freedom, especially since I was always given prompt and competent advice in case of questions and doubts.
The moment when I received the confirmation email—separated from the present by the outbreak of the pandemic and my experiences in Mexico—right now seems to have passed a very long time ago, but I nevertheless still clearly remember it because it was a moment of strong relief—more than joy—for me.
As far as I know, the exact statistics on accepted and rejected applicants are not published, but the rate of accepted applications is, according to hearsay and the opinion of all those who have advised me, much higher than in other funding agencies. My relief, however, was not only due to the resolution of the general uncertainty about the success of the application, but also to the fact that some other uncertainties had disappeared. I had invested a reasonably large amount of time and effort in my application, which included the expected (letter of motivation, work plan, certificates, proof of language skills, two letters of recommendation). There were some complications with getting one of the letters of recommendation to the DAAD, the communication with the DAAD, which was only possible via the online forum where the application was also managed, was rather slow and during the whole spring I had not been able to plan for the second half of 2019, of which I didn't know if I would spend it in Germany and in Mexico. I had waited a few months longer than originally announced for the notification I now received.
Correspondingly, the relief changed almost instantly into the necessary busyness, because I only had one month until my departure. The DAAD offers two variants of country-specific PhD scholarships: for 1-6 months and for 7-12 months. In both cases, for the application one chooses the period of time that seems appropriate and specifies a departure date that must be within the period until the start of the next application phase. In my case, I had chosen a rather early date, corresponding to the beginning of the Mexican semester, so that a lot had to be organized in a short time. For example, it would not have been possible to apply for a student visa in that time (fortunately, tourist visas for Mexico are issued without prior application and for 180 days upon entry).

I have described my perception of my everyday life, my host university, some experiences on research excursions and my own privileges as a kind of narrative in this detailed report (Link in German), the (necessarily extremely) shortened version of which, is the following:

Let me begin my report, which is really more of a story, with my first day at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, which I will call simply “the Ibero” in the text. I had gotten lost, and, in order to get to the university campus, I had to cross two four-lane roads and an overpass, which turned out to be a walk of nearly an hour. Fortunately, I had planned one and a half hours for just such contingencies, because I knew that my chances of not only getting on the correct minibus, but also getting off in the right place, were very slim. Traffic is one of the main topics of all conversations I had in Mexico City. Since the weather here never changes, the time it takes to get from A to B serves as a common and innocuous topic for small talk (an equivalent to talking about what one has eaten – the common topic in less urban regions of Mexico).
For a while I considered getting a bicycle, but I always discarded the idea, among other reasons because I did not want to expose myself to pollutants and breathe them in. So I kept taking buses, which emit the very pollutants I aimed to avoid. Traffic breeds the necessity for more traffic.
In the shadow of an impressive building ruin at the entrance gate to the university, I was met by Professor Javier Torres Nafarrate, who had invited me to come to Mexico. All entrances to the campus are heavily guarded; access without a chip card is not possible. The Ibero is a private university, founded and financed by the Jesuit order. Though committed to the order’s ideals in general, it is independent in terms of its teaching. Within a highly stratified system of higher education, it is considered an elite university. At the library, I found – as predicted by research I did before my trip – a wealth of books (naturally mostly in Spanish), to which I had no access in Germany. Unfortunately, the computer at the workstation provided to me in Professor Torres’ office was impossibly slow, so I always worked on my laptop.
My “privileged status” there was more structural than situational: it did not directly benefit me in any way. But this was not the case in the academic context of my stay: Not only did I, as is common in academic work, use the contact networks of my professors, but beyond that I am fairly certain that the mention of my home country of Germany in general and my home university Bielefeld in particular helped me with requests I made for interviews and meetings with academics, journalists, lawyers and human rights activists that I needed for my dissertation. I believe I was given appointments that probably would not have been granted to Mexican students at a public provincial university. Despite this, I decided to mention my origins, as the main purpose of my trip was, after all, to conduct these interviews and discussions.

Also, my research project deals with a topic that is widespread in Mexico, but hardly exists in my home country. It deals with “impunity discourse”, meaning the social discussion of the fact that in many regions of the world, the large majority of all crimes goes unpunished. I am mainly interested in the forms in which these discussions occur, as well as the social reactions to such discourse. I went to Latin America because, here, impunity discourse (and I mean explicitly the discourse, not necessarily the phenomenon it refers to) is the most pronounced of all regions worldwide.
This was evidenced by the conference at the Colegio de México (Colmex), which can be considered the peak of Mexico’s academic hierarchy. The opportunity to introduce my research project at that conference was one of the absolute highlights of my visit. On that occasion, I also encountered the institutional library for the first time, whose phenomenal inventory includes practically all of the literature I had previously searched for in vain at German libraries and those of the Ibero. This includes, in particular, the digital library, which can be accessed from anywhere on campus, which is why from then on, I was often drawn to the Colmex to work.
On a personal level, I tried to lead a “Mexican life” – whatever that may be – which was certainly aided by my good Spanish skills, refined by several long-term visits to Spanish-speaking countries. These skills are likely the reason why I was asked by the Ibero to do some translation work for a journal. During my half-year visit, I frequently translated brief articles and, in the end, made arrangements for further cooperation in this area in the future. One of the ways in which I attempted to integrate into everyday life in Mexico was by living in a house with Mexicans.

At the time of my application for the scholarship I had three basic subject-specific objectives for my stay: To present and discuss my dissertation project in the socio-cultural and geographical context to which its content relates to a large degree; to conduct expert interviews and collect material for a discourse analysis; and to generate academic exchange at a general level. My hopes were fulfilled or exceeded on all three counts.
I am honestly convinced that my work advanced significantly during the half year of my stay, not only academically, but personally as well. Thanks to many encounters, I gained innumerable and priceless insights even beyond the realm of a doctorate. I am deeply grateful to the DAAD-Stiftung for making this experience possible.

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New BGHS coordinator for internationalisation

Veröffentlicht am 29. Juli 2020

Clara Buitrago is the new coordinator for internationalisation in the BGHS office. For Clara it is a return to the BGHS, because she did her PhD at the BGHS. Sabine Schäfer asked her what it is like to be part of the BGHS again, what she finds important for international doctoral researchers and what she is most looking forward to. The interview can be heard here:

Further information on the BGHS-Office: Website.

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Practitioners in talk #Part8

Veröffentlicht am 20. Juli 2020

:: Non-academic careers ::

Practitioners in talk #Part 8

Many roads lead out of the BGHS. But where do paths lead to after the doctorate? In the summer semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have taken up their profession outside the university. Götz Frommholz talked with us about his work at the "Open Society Foundations".

Götz Frommholz (second from left) at the "Internet Governance Forum" of the United Nations.

Götz, when you think about the start of your career: How did you find your way in?

Götz Frommholz: I found my entry during my doctorate. After my diploma in Bielefeld I went to Edinburgh and did a PhD in sociology. I have to say that I was already politically active before I started my career, I retired from active politics, but I was still interested in politics. And at that time in Edinburgh, I was thinking along with other doctoral students: Where is there a niche in Germany for people who are interested in politics and want to give evidence-based advice on politics? We saw that at that time there was a great lack of organizations that were engaged in political participation at the interface between science and society outside the university. So in 2012 we founded a think tank: dpart. During my doctorate it became increasingly clear to me: I'm going back to Germany. But if I go to Germany, I'm definitely not going to science, because a scientific career in Germany simply cannot be planned. I then decided to set up our think tank in Germany, coordinate a European network of doctoral students and carry out research projects within this framework. For example, together with the University of Edinburgh, we conducted research on the Scottish referendum on independence, and a briefing that we prepared was actually also the basis for the Scottish Parliament to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16. So, we've done cool things already, and dpart is still there. But in 2016 I got fed up with cleaning doorknobs and getting grants and then I went to Humboldt University. There I did the monitoring of young researchers at the Humboldt Graduate School. That encouraged me once again when I saw the numbers: How unlikely it is to apply for a professorship and then actually succeed. I did that for two and a half years. During that time we started another research project with dpart, in cooperation with the Open Society Foundations (OSF). The foundation fled from Hungary in the summer of 2018, because of Orban and the anti-Soros laws, and moved to Germany. And then people from the foundation asked me if I would like to apply for a position as policy analyst here in Berlin, for the new office. I had just signed my third one-year contract at HU and thought to myself: Okay, the shop is not really grateful either, I try it. And I got the job. That's how I got into it.

You work for the "Open Society Foundations". What exactly are your tasks?

Götz Frommholz: Officially, I work for the Brussels office of our foundation network: the Open Society European Policy Institute. But for OSF I am here in Berlin and I am the analyst especially for EU policy in Germany. The Open Society Foundations: These are many independent foundations and programmes founded by the American philanthropist and billionaire George Soros. We are the largest private foundation worldwide that promotes democracy and human rights. There are over 120 countries in which we are active and are committed to civil society, human rights and democracy promotion.

A webinar moderated by Götz Frommholz with Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, and Selmin Caliskan, OSF Director for Institutional Relations OSF Berlin.

What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology and history who are interested in entering your field of activity?

Götz Frommholz: So, I think: If I had not had the will to work in this field, I would not have ended up there. Because it has been a long dry spell, especially when we built up our own think tank. That meant cleaning up many, many handles. I was actually on the road seven days a week and danced at all the weddings to meet people. On the other hand, political communication is a huge field: you can work for NGOs, for trade unions or for the Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce. And that's why it's important to think carefully and make a conscious decision as to who you want to work for.

Götz, thank you for the conversation.

The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.

The complete conversation is available here (only in German):

Komplettversion als PDF

Further information about the project "Non-university careers" is available (here), previous interviews in the series (here).

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Practitioners in talk #Part7

Veröffentlicht am 6. Juli 2020

:: Non-academic careers ::

Practitioners in talk #Part 7

Many roads lead out of the BGHS. But where do paths lead to after the doctorate? In the summer semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have taken up their profession outside the university. Marie-Christine Heinze talked with us about her work at the „Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient“ (CARPO).

Panel discussion at CARPO on the subject of "The Yemen conflict in the context of regional rivalries" on 8 March 2018, on the panel from the left: Marie-Christine Heinze, Sebastian Sons (CARPO Associate Fellow), Gudrun Harrer (Moderator; Der Standard), Adnan Tabatabai (CARPO CEO)

Marie, if you remember the start of your career: How did you find your way in?

Marie-Christine Heinze: I wrote my doctorate on Yemen. And through an acquaintance from Bonn University - where I studied - I had contact with a Yemeni research institute that does mainly quantitative social research. When I went to Yemen for field research for my doctoral thesis, the only contact I had there was the Yemen Polling Center (YPC). I made contact with the YPC, and they helped me a lot in establishing contacts for my doctoral thesis. In return, I helped them and started writing project proposals for the institute. The first proposal I wrote for the institute was an EU project proposal, which I just thought of: Oh, I'll manage. I mentioned myself in the application as a consultant. The project application was accepted, and I am still working with the YPC.

What does your work look like now?

Marie-Christine Heinze: To give an example: At CARPO, we have a project that aims to bring together Yemeni experts from business and development. We are implementing this with two Yemeni partner institutions. To this end, we organise many meetings: between these experts, but also between the experts and the international community. And we produce publications: both to provide facts and to make policy recommendations for the international community, for the Yemeni government and for other actors who can improve the situation in Yemen.

Group picture at one of CARPO's bi-annual Development Champions Forum, at which CARPO and its project partners have been bringing together Yemeni experts from business and development since 2017 to draw up recommendations for action for national and international stakeholders.

What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology or history who are interested in a career in your field?

Marie-Christine Heinze: So, I think that first of all it helps to gain knowledge about the actors in the field through some form of cooperation with institutions, through internships or short residencies. Secondly, a good knowledge of the content is a great advantage. So, in my case that was my knowledge of Yemen: I did my doctorate on that and I worked a lot with Yemeni research institutions and also with other actors from Yemen. I think that's the most important tip I can give: find something that you find really exciting - that's what you'll be good at. Which is perhaps also interesting: For example, I supported partners at the YPC for a long time without any financial consideration, and in doing so I developed the networks I am now working with.

Did you already have the goal of founding your own think tank during your dissertation?

Marie-Christine Heinze: No, no. I didn't know what I was gonna do afterwards. It simply became clear during the dissertation that I was doing a lot of consulting. Before the end of my dissertation, I joined a research project at the University of Bonn: a VW project that I implemented with the YPC. And actually I assumed at that time that I would acquire such projects at the university because I was good at it. My own research institute on Yemen: That was a secondary consideration, not a concrete plan.

Marie, thank you for the conversation.

The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.

The complete conversation is available here (only in German):

Komplettversion als PDF

Further information about the project "Non-university careers" is available (here), previous interviews in the series (here).

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Practitioners in talk #Part6

Veröffentlicht am 23. Juni 2020

:: Non-academic careers ::

Practitioners in talk #Part 6

Many roads lead out of the BGHS. But where do paths lead to after the doctorate? In the summer semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have taken up their profession outside the university. Jette Prochnow-Furrer talked with us about her work at the „Forum Migration“.

Jette as Doctoral Representative at the inaugural ceremony of the BGHS.

Jette, you did your doctorate at the BGHS in 2013 and are now working as a DAF teacher in Visp. In the beautiful canton of Valais. If you remember the start of your career: How did you find your way into your profession?

Jette Prochnow-Furrer: I found it through volunteering. At the height of the refugee crisis, as it was then called, I was still working at the university. In 2015, people were desperately looking for people to teach German as a foreign language here in Switzerland. Especially for illiterates. Because you have to work in small groups. And I started unskilled in this field. A volunteer was needed to assist a teacher in a literacy class. So I got into it. We were then offered further training as volunteers. And through these further trainings I qualified myself more and more in this field. Although I was only a volunteer at first. But I found more and more pleasure in it and then I started full-time.

Where are you working now outside the university?

Jette Prochnow-Furrer: The institution is called "Forum Migration". It is a relatively small association that takes care of the concerns of migrants: both migrant workers and refugees. The Forum Migration offers various services: legal advice, help in finding accommodation, help in finding work, discussion groups and language courses. The Migration Forum has a mandate from the canton to conduct language and integration courses.

Jette in conversation with language course participants in Visp

What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology or history who are interested in a career in your profession?

Jette Prochnow-Furrer: If you are interested in leaving science after your doctorate, I would generally recommend that you start doing further training. I was still working at the university when I started volunteering as a language teacher. And I took an adult education course outside the university. In terms of content, it wasn't all that different from university didactics courses at university. But in this course I met people from my future employer. And I expanded my appearance a little: I was able to show that my life was not just in an ivory tower. After all, in Switzerland it doesn't matter whether you teach yoga in the adult education centre or business German in the language school: you must have the "adult educator". My second tip is not to think about it when leaving science: I didn't get my doctorate for that after all! I would rather say: The earlier you take the initiative to get out of science, the smaller the risk of becoming an unemployed fifty-year-old academic. During my dissertation I had a lot of fun doing science. I wouldn't have wanted to do anything else. But there are still other things that can be just as much fun. After all, we doctoral candidates are not free of talent.

Jette, thank you for the conversation.

The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.

The complete conversation is available here (only in German):

Komplettversion als PDF

Further information about the project "Non-university careers" is available (here), previous interviews in the series (here).

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Welcome Day Summer Term 2020

Veröffentlicht am 22. Juni 2020

Welcome Day Summer Term 2020

:: 6 new doctoral researchers at the BGHS ::

On Friday, 19 June, the BGHS hosted the Welcome Day for the summer semester 2020. Due to Corona, the event this semester could unfortunately not take place in the seminar room followed by a coffee break in the lounge. The six new doctoral researchers, all of them historians, were welcomed by BGHS Executive Mangager Dr. Sabine Schäfer via video conference. Despite the unusual circumstances, we wish all new doctoral researchers a good start at the BGHS.

The presentation of the Welcome Day is available here:

Komplettversion als PDF


New doctoral researchers and their projects:

  • Olga Sabelfeld: Semantiken des Vergleichens in Parlamenten: Sozialpolitik als Stabilitätsbestreben und Veränderungsproduktion
  • Lukas Schmidt: Geschichten über Deutschland. Wechselwirkungen zwischen Nationskonzeption, Narration und Identitätskonstruktion in Deutschlanderzählungen
  • Catharina Wessing: Kolonial-landwirtschaftlicher Wissenstransfer in der Weimarer Republik
  • Maximilian Kucknat: Im Bann des 'fremden' Blickes. Ein Vergleich der Fremd-, Feind- und Selbstbildkonstruktionen in den ost- und westdeutschen Wochenschauen während der 50er und 60er Jahre
  • Ioannis Stavroulias: Localizing the Anthropocene: A History of Skouries and Attica through Residues from 1950 to the Present
  • Itxaso García Chapinal: Other Knowledges: A Decolonial Analysis of the Wixárika environmental Knowledge and its Shift through the Public Primary School since 1980
Further information about the new doctoral researchers at the BGHS and their projects as well as all the other people at the BGHS is available here:
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Freedom of Expression and Science

Veröffentlicht am 15. Juni 2020

Prof. Dr. Detlef Sack, dean of the Faculty of Sociology, and Prof. Dr. Ursula Mense-Petermann, director of the BGHS, got interviewed by the University about the topic of how to deal with (doctoral) students which actively support conspiracy theories or are involved in extreme political parties.

Standing up for freedom of expression and making science the standard

At Bielefeld University, we have a few students and doctoral candidates who are known to support conspiracy theories or who are involved in extreme right-wing parties that propagate nationalist and racist sentiments. Such is currently the case at Bielefeld University’s Faculty of Sociology, where a debate is taking place about an enrolled doctoral student who is politically active in an extreme right-wing party. For some of the discussants, the question is: should he be allowed to continue his studies and do his doctorate at Bielefeld University without further ado, or should he be excluded from the university’s academic life? How do the Faculty of Sociology and the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS), where the doctoral candidate in question is pursuing structured doctoral studies, respond to this question? An interview with Professor Detlef Sack, dean of the Faculty of Sociology (FfS), and Professor Ursula Mense-Petermann, director of the BGHS.

For a complete version of the interview click here:

Komplettversion als PDF

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BGHS Working Paper Series 6/2020

Veröffentlicht am 8. Juni 2020

Miriam Kanne, former member of the BGHS-Office has published the article "Von der Internationalisierung zur Internationalität? Über das Spannungsverhältnis zwischen Hochschulstrategie, Alltagsrealität und den Erwartungshorizonten internationaler Nachwuchswissenschaftler*innen: Start-up scholars an der Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS)" [From internationalization to internationality? On the tension between university strategy, everyday reality and the expectations of young international researchers: Start-up scholars at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS)] in the BGHS Working Paper Series.

In the course of the internationalisation efforts of German universities and the critical discourse that is being conducted on this topic, the question of how the strategic plan-ning of 'internationalisation' is reflected in the everyday academic life of all those who are the main subjects of 'internationality' is gaining in importance: How and where do incoming students find their place at German universities – especially those who want to make the step from a Master's degree to a doctorate? The assessments of these questions are based on the evaluations of international Master's graduates in sociology and history who were guests at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) at Bielefeld University for four months as part of the program “Start-up scholarships”, in order to make the transition to doctoral studies. (Abstract of the Article)

Further information about the BGHS Working Paper Series: (Link)
Download of the article: (Link)

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BGHS Working Paper Series 5/2020

Veröffentlicht am 27. Mai 2020

Melanie Eulitz, former member of the BGHS-Office has published the article "Übergang zur Promotion. Das Shortcuts-Programm der Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) als Instrument zur Karriereplanung" [Transition to doctorate. The Shortcuts Programme of the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS) as a tool for career planning] in the BGHS Working Paper Series.

The transition from studying to a doctorate can also be understood as a transition from students to scholars. The paper explores the question of how this transition can be designed in universities and what measures are helpful for the prospective doctoral researchers. The interlinking of financial and academic support is reflected on the Shortcuts programme of the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS). The decision to do a doctorate is understood as a process that requires both information and reflection. What is also decisive is the exchange within the group, which is discussed by the example of the programme module “peer coaching”. (Abstract of the Article)

Further information about the BGHS Working Paper Series: (Link)
Download of the article: (Link)

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Reports about Practical Projects #1

Veröffentlicht am 27. April 2020

:: Non-academic careers ::

Reports about Practical Projects #Part 1

„Reports about Practical Projects“ are written by doctoral students who have designed and carried out a practical project in cooperation with a non-university organisation. The BGHS has been supporting these projects with scholarships since 2020. In the first part of the series, Yannick Schöpper reports on his study on onshore wind energy.

Acceptance in the area, protest in the local?
Study on onshore wind energy by Yannick Schöpper

Yannick Schöpper's project, which was realised within the framework of a BGHS practical scholarship, deals with a currently controversial topic: the local acceptance of onshore wind turbines. No debate on renewable energies seems to be able to do without the keyword of acceptance at the moment. This is also reflected in various regulatory adjustments by federal and state legislators, which have been explicitly linked to the intention to increase the local acceptance level of onshore wind energy. In this respect, the "Citizen and Community Participation Act" of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which was passed in 2016, attracted much attention. This law obliges project developers to financially participate in the operation of wind turbines by the municipalities and local citizens - a real novelty at that time. How is the reception of the state law today, after four years? This and other questions were explored by Yannick in the context of the practical scholarship.

The project was carried out in cooperation with the Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien e.V. (AEE). The AEE is working to convince people of the need for energy system transformation, to promote a sustainable energy supply and to provide information on the status quo of renewable energies in Germany. The organisation is financed by annual contributions from various associations and companies in the renewable energy sector as well as project-related funding. It also offers various services in the field of event management, press and public relations and graphic design. AEE does not pursue a political agenda; it operates on a non-partisan and intergenerational basis.

The complete study is available here: (Link).

Further Information about the project "Non-academic-careers" is available on the BGHS website: (Link).

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Let's talk! Non-academic-careers #5

Veröffentlicht am 13. Februar 2020

:: Non-academic careers ::

Practitioners in talk #Part 5

Many roads lead out of the BGHS. But where do paths lead to after the doctorate? In the winter semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have taken up their profession outside the university. Karin Werner talked to us about her work as a publisher at Transcript Verlag.

Karin Werner at her working place.

Karin, if you remember the beginnings of Transcript: How did the idea of founding a publishing house come about?

Karin Werner: Well, the idea was in the air for a long time. And Transcript was not the first company we founded. We met in 1984 in the university's computer centre: Roswitha Gost, Oliver Schönebäumer and I. Roswitha and I transcribed our interviews there at that time - they didn't have PCs back then. Oliver studied mathematics. In the computer centre, space was scarce and he always wanted to have our seats. That's how we got to know each other. We all had to finance our studies ourselves, and Oliver was in the process of founding a limited company together with a fellow student. I needed money and asked if I could join in. That's how it started, that we did book typesetting in this company. So, we had contact with scientists who were publishing and we set them the books.

Between 1990 and 1999 I was at the university for another ten years, first with a doctoral scholarship, later with a habilitation scholarship. The GmbH and a second company, which we had founded in the meantime, continued to operate. As a sideline I also produced music. In 1999, I had a decision: either to aim for a professorship or to do freelance work more intensively. I decided to put all my eggs in the Transcript basket with Roswitha and Oliver. And to professionalize the publishing house, which we had founded in 1997 as our third company and a further source of income. Well, we never had much money - it was enough for us - but we had accumulated a lot of know-how. Even though not everything was crowned with success.

This is the long history of a few youngsters, 24 years old, who founded their first GmbH. Quite naive. But they also learn: What does it mean to serve customers? You have to develop products. You have to set up an accounting department. You have to get to know a company as a financial construct. With all tax and legal aspects. That was possible - or necessary - from 1984 onwards. In 2000, we stopped cooking in a lot of pots and made a cut: we acquired representatives and built a professional sales structure; we won our first interns and our first saleswoman. And then we quickly reached 50 or 100 new publications a year. That went relatively quickly.

The website of Transcript

What do the Transcript Verlag of 20 years ago and the Transcript Verlag of today have in common?

Karin Werner: Transcript is still one of the very few publishing houses that is managed by editors. At larger publishing houses today, business economists or business people are at the top, and the editors are more in the position of product managers. This means: We also accept a moderate calculation if we want a title at all costs and if we think that the title is good for our programme and for scientific reception ecology. This is an approach to publishing that used to be more common and has become very rare. I would estimate that 75 percent of the titles result from requests to us. But we also acquire titles. That means we stimulate science and try to convince scientists to write this or that book. This active development of the program is, I think, our beating heart. I don't believe that you only acquire bestsellers all the time. But we won't stop there. Well, we're fine, but we're modest.

What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology or history who are interested in a career in publishing?

Karin Werner: If you want to work in an editorial office or a program department, you should have the ability to write, edit and read texts. You should not be afraid of software. You should be fluent in spoken and written German and English. But what I think is generally important for a professional career is that you know yourself and your own working methods well. For example, people who know: I am a slower but also a thorough type - these are the ideal proofreaders. But to be a good program person, for example, you need the ability to develop ideas from an existing set of books. Or: I can organize teams well and I enjoy doing that. As I remember, these skills were never an issue in the graduate college I was in. And I would like to see this reflection - these things suit me, those don't - in the preparation of a professional career also being discussed more at university.

Karin, thanks a lot for your time!

The talk was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.

For a complete version of the interview (german) click here:

Komplettversion als PDF


Further Information about the project "Non-academic-careers":

Gesendet von HGrüneberg in Allgemein

Let's talk! Non-academic careers #4

Veröffentlicht am 15. Januar 2020

:: Non-academic careers ::

Practitioners in talk #Part 4

Many ways lead out of the BGHS. But where do pathways lead to after the doctorate? In the winter semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have chosen their profession outside the university. Linda Groß talked to us about her work at the Service Center for Young Academics at Bielefeld University.

The homepage of the service center of the University of Bielefeld

If you remember the start of your career: How did you find your way in?

Linda Groß: The entry was done in the classic way by an application. The job was advertised here at the university. That was quite good, because I had defended my dissertation shortly before. That was the change of profession: from the doctorate at the BGHS to the job here. At the time, I focused my applications on science management positions - and there were a few positions where I realized that my profile fit. Which was a pretty good feeling, because I actually only started looking when I handed in my dissertation.

Where do you work now inside or outside the university?

Linda Groß: Yes, so, non-university: That doesn't really fit to my job here at the university. I work as a consultant in the Service Center for Young Researchers. We are assigned to the Department for Research Promotion and Transfer (FFT) and the Vice Rectorate for Research, Young Academics and Equal Opportunities. The FFT is the interface between scientists and the Rectorate, and in this context we advise on the application and processing of third-party funding, which is requested by young scientists, but also by experienced scientists who want to apply for a graduate programme - for example a DFG Research Training Group.

As research officers, we support the scientists and decentralised administrations in particular in meeting the respective requirements of the funding organisations. For the Prorectorate, my work consists of coordinating interdisciplinary services and structures in order to support young researchers in the development of their scientific careers. This also includes information events and funding instruments, which we ourselves offer as a service centre for young researchers.

Promotion of young researchers. Photo by Thomas Abel

What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology and history who are interested in entering your professional field?

Linda Groß: My tip is not to take the doctorate too instrumentally - that would be the case if I chose the topic in such a way that I also have chances on the job market. I think the most important thing is to first follow your own interests and thus create a good motivational basis for you to master the doctoral phase on the one hand and to get where you want to be on the other. And if, during the doctorate, I notice that science as a system interests me and I can imagine working in a science-supporting function, then I would consider how to acquire the necessary entry skills. Through informal discussions with people who are already working in this field, for example, I can gain knowledge of the labour market and get advice on which skills I can still acquire and how

There are now also a large number of in-service training courses for science management, which show that the field is becoming increasingly professionalised. However, in individual cases, I would carefully examine whether these represent an added value or whether one does not already have sufficient knowledge and experience through one's scientific practice and can acquire everything else "on the job". But I would start with personal interest. I am convinced that this is exactly what will help me find a job later.

Linda, thank you for talking to us.


The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.

You can find the complete conversation as PDF (german) here:

Komplettversion als PDF


Further information about the project:

Gesendet von HGrüneberg in Allgemein

Let's talk! Non-academic careers #3

Veröffentlicht am 11. Dezember 2019

:: Non-academic careers ::

Practitioners in talk #Part 3

Many ways lead out of the BGHS. But where do pathways lead to after the doctorate? In the winter semester we talk to historians and sociologists who have chosen their profession outside the university. Hans-Walter Schmuhl talked to us about his work as a freelance historian.

Hans Walter Schmuhl at his working space.

Mr. Schmuhl, if you remember your entry into your profession as a freelance historian: How did you find your entry?

Hans-Walter Schmuhl: That was in the phase when I had completed the habilitation and was a private lecturer. Then the ox tour starts: That you apply for professorships. That's a pretty frustrating thing to start with. Because it takes quite a while until you are invited. And then you are allowed to audition. You could say casually: I lost my patience. Because it's a phase in your life: you're actually in your prime - your late thirties, early forties - and you actually want to work on the content. But basically you feel like you're in a kind of waiting room. And you don't know exactly how it will end: Which door opens? Do you get a chair or any other permanent job with pension entitlement? Or is that ultimately a dead end? And do you have to reorient yourself in the end?

And in this situation I decided - very active. The concrete background was that I had an offer to work in science. But I did not accept the offer. Because it would have been a job where it would have been only about science management. And I am a researcher: I want to do my own research. And I took that as an opportunity to realize plans I had been considering for some time and to say: Now I am going into self-employment. And I'm doing a very offensive information policy: I'm saying that to all people. That was a leap into the unknown at the time, because very few colleagues did that. Somehow there were no indications of what that was like: with the acquisition of contracts; whether that would ultimately pay off; and how to calculate. So, basically: That was a beginning with many question marks.

As a freelance historian you have been working for 20 years on behalf of various organizations. If you describe it using one of your current projects as an example: What is a typical process of such a project?

Hans-Walter Schmuhl: In the beginning there must be an interest. So, the client must come up with the idea of placing an order. A typical pattern can be seen in one of my current projects in the field of social welfare history: The occasion is a scandal. There have been press reports that in the fifties and sixties violent attacks took place in the facilities of this institution; and that at least in one case there was a drug testing which moved in a legal grey area. And this is of course a question of image for a company, also for a diaconal company, to say: Well, we commission independent researchers*. They should investigate that. At our expense. And then we face up to our responsibility.

Well, there was interest there. Then the question is: How do clients and contractors get together? And that was pretty easy in this case, because our team, in which we carry out the order: We had previously worked at another facility that had hit the headlines. We did a good job, even though the previous press coverage had created a tense atmosphere between the institution, those affected and their advocates. In the end, our findings were recognised by all sides. And then the new client said: Can you do the same for us? That's typical. Then you enter into negotiations and have to conclude the contract.

We have defined three cornerstones of good scientific practice for ourselves, which we insist on at all costs when drafting contracts: Firstly, that the client cannot give us any specifications with regard to content. Secondly, there must be unrestricted access to the client's sources. And thirdly, there must be no publication reservation. We handle this differently from some of our colleagues in the field of economic history. Companies often commission the presentation of their own history and state in the contract that they will accept the work. In these cases, the client decides whether the work is to be published or whether it is to be placed in a drawer for internal use. And that's where we made the decision: We don't do that. What we research and record in writing must also be published. This is a point where contracts sometimes fail.

However: If we wouldn't do this so well, the client wouldn't benefit from it. If at the end it says: "They found out: It was one way or another. And maybe: Some things weren't as bad as originally feared. Then it's easy to say: "But that's contract research." And the public debate continues. When we finally present our book with the findings of our independent research at a press conference, the discussion in the media usually comes to an end. And of course that's in the interest of the client. That doesn't mean that the issue is over: together with those affected, we look for ways to compensate for the suffering they have suffered; the historical findings are passed on to our staff in internal training courses; they also play a role in current model processes.

Hans-Walter Schmuhl talking during an event.

What tips do you have for historians who are considering starting their own business?

Hans-Walter Schmuhl: Well, the key is: network, network, network. On all levels. I would always advise students to write to scientists working in the field in which they are writing their thesis. In the worst case you won't get an answer. In the best case scenario, you might want to draw someone's attention to you. If you're in the doctoral phase: don't hide away. Going to conferences. Go to workshops. So, the more people you know, in very different contexts, the better. So, a schematic acquisition, according to the motto: "Well, I'm here now. Nobody knows me. But now I'm making a really great advertising brochure and I'm writing everyone up: Experience has shown that this is almost useless. This works the other way round: That your name is known and you are addressed.

Second, I would recommend not to define your own working field too narrowly. If you have a topic on which you have focused completely, and that, let's say, is still a little out of place: You can't do anything with it. Then you have to work your way laboriously into other fields. And thirdly: Yes, it is a matter of attitude. So, if you like to snoop around in the archive for your life, then write it down afterwards and give it something: Then you have the right motivation to do it. If you say: I would like to work from 9 to 17 o'clock. Then I'd like to have the evening off. And what's important to me is the weekend. Then you are out of place as a self-employed person, no matter in which industry.

Mr Schmuhl, thank you for talking to us.


The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.

You can find the complete conversation as PDF (german) here:

Komplettversion als PDF


Further information about the project:

Gesendet von HGrüneberg in Allgemein


« September 2020