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Herr Prof. Dr. Holger Straßheim

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1. Fakultät für Soziologie / Personen / Professorinnen und Professoren

Professur für Politische Soziologie

+49 521 106-4627  
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Gebäude X C3-210 Lage-/Raumplan

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3. Fakultät für Soziologie / Beauftragte / Studiengangsbeauftragte

Studiengangsbeauftragter MA Politische Kommunikation

Curriculum Vitae

Holger Strassheim is Professor of Political Sociology at Bielefeld University, Germany. He has researched and taught at national and international institutions such as the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), Humboldt University, Darmstadt University, Bremen University, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Collège d’études mondiales in Paris, and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Bologna University.

In his work he explores the intertwinement of science and politics in world society, the role of expertise and evidence in public policy, the ways economic discourses shape social behavior and the governance networks in and between policy areas such as consumer policy, energy, mobility, climate policy, and global public health. He is a member of the editorial board of the Critical Policy Studies Journal and co-editor of the Advances in Critical Policy Book Series.

Strassheim is co-director of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science (ISOS) and co-director of the Institute for World Society Studies. As member of two expert groups at the Joint Research Center (JRC) he has advised the European Commission on expertise and evidence-based policy. He is and has been a Principal Investigator in national and international research projects, most recently 'The Worldviews of Ice: Constructions of the Arctic at the Science/Politics Interface' (DFG, with Mathias Albert) and 'Ethics and Expertise Beyond Times of Crisis: Learning from international varieties of ethics advice' (ESRC/UK, with J. Pykett, S. Ball, R. Lepenies, W. Pearce).

Among his recent publications are:
Sommer, T., Strassheim, H., & Wenzel, L. (2023). Crisis management and ethical expertise: The role of ethics advice during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy. doi: (open access)

Pykett, J., Ball, S., Dingwall, R., Lepenies, R., Sommer, T., Strassheim, H., & Wenzel, L. (2022). Ethical moments and institutional expertise in UK Government COVID-19 pandemic policy responses: where, when and how is ethical advice sought? Evidence & Policy, 19(1), 236–255.

Straßheim, H. (2021). Time, Sustainability, and Public Policy. In K. H. Goetz (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Time and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Straßheim, H. (2021). Behavioural mechanisms and public policy design: preventing failures in behavioural public policy. Public Policy and Administration, 36(2), 187-204.

Professional background

since 2018 Professor of Political Sociology (W2), Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University

2016-17 Visiting Professor, Political Sociology and Social Policy, Department of Social Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin (winter term, in lieu of Prof. Dr. Friedbert Rüb)

2013-14 Visiting Professor, Comparative Social Policy and Theories of the Welfare State, Centre for Social Policy Research, University of Bremen (winter term, in lieu of Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger and Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier)

2012-13 Visiting Professor of Public Policy and Governance, Institute of Political Science, University of Technology Darmstadt (winter and summer term)

2010-18 Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin

2009 Assistant Professor, Institute of Political Science, University of Technology Darmstadt

2008-09 Research Fellow, Dep. Cultural Sources of Newness, WZB Berlin Social Science Center

2002-08 Research Fellow, Dep. Innovation and Organization, WZB Berlin Social Science Center

1999-2002 Research Fellow, Dep. Technology-Work-Environment, WZB Berlin Social Science Center


2010 Dr. rer. soc., University of Tübingen (summa cum laude)

1997 Diploma, Political Science, Free University Berlin (with distincion)

1993 Pre-Diploma, Political Science/Law/Media Studies, University of Marburg

Awards and Fellowships

2022 Visiting Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bologna (winter term)

2018 Visiting Research Fellow, Fondation maison des sciences de l’homme, Collège d’études mondiales, Paris (March 2018)

2016 Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University Duisburg-Essen (spring term)

2014 Visiting Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Program on Science, Technology and Society, Harvard University, Cambridge/MA (spring term)

2014 - 2020 Visiting Fellow, Research Group on Science Policy, WZB Berlin Social Science Center

2011 Best Dissertation Award, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Tübingen

2009-10 Visiting Fellow, Virtual Knowledge Studio, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professional Activities

• Expert group member 'Science4policy ecosystems', Joint Research Center (JRC), European Commission
• Board member of Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science (ISOS), Bielefeld University
• Co-Director, Institute for World Society Studies, Bielefeld University
• Steering Committee Adviser and Reviewer, Enlightenment 2.0 Initiative, Joint Research Center, European Commission
• Member of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science (ISOS), Bielefeld University
• Member, Editorial Board and Chair, Herbert Gottweis Award Commission, Critical Policy Studies Journal
• Co-Editor, Advances in Critical Policy Analysis Book Series
• Co-speaker, working group “Politics, Science and Technology”, German Political Science Association
• Science and Democracy Network (SDN), Harvard Kennedy School of Government


Australian Journal of Public Administration, Behavioural Public Policy, Behemoth, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Elements, Critical Policy Studies, Der Moderne Staat, Engaging Science, Technology & Society, Environmental Policy Analysis, European Policy Analysis, Evidence & Policy, Futures, Governance, Innovation, International Review of Administrative Science, Internet Policy Review, Journal of Classical Sociology, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Leviathan, Minds and Machines, Minerva, Nature and Culture, Oxford Encyclopedia, Palgrave Macmillan, Politische Vierteljahresschrift, Policy & Politics, Policy & Society, Policy Studies, Policy Sciences, Public Administration, Science and Public Policy, Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, Sozialer Fortschritt, Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Transnational Environmental Law, World Review of European Policy Analysis, WIREs Climate Change, Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Zeitschrift für Soziologie, Zeitschrift für Sozialreform, Zeitschrift für Technikfolgenabschätzung

Institutional Reviews: Central European University, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, Swiss National Science Foundation

All publications

Aktuelle Forschungsthemen

Research Areas

• Political Sociology
• Public Policy and Governance
• Science and Policy in World Society
• Critical Policy Analysis (Employment policy, Welfare, Food safety, Consumer policy, Energy, Mobility, Climate policy)
• Organizations and Networks
• Comparative Welfare State Research
• Economic Discourses and Social Regulation
• Time and Public Policy

Research grants (selective)

2023-26 Ethics and Expertise Beyond Times of Crisis: Learning from international varieties of ethics advice (Co-PI, ESRC/UK)
Governments are not always following their own ethical advice during times of crisis, and we want to find out why, what this means for policy decision-making and ultimately, how this influences outcomes for citizens. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought these questions to the fore. National government strategies, public debate and public health outcomes have varied substantially. We will examine the specific role of ethics advice in processes of crisis management, navigating expert knowledge, building organisational networks and policy learning in shaping these international differences, using a case study method to compare UK, Germany and Australia. How can government ethics advice be organised in the future to improve institutional capacity and agility, strategic thinking, pluralistic forms of expertise, and responsiveness to diverse publics? The British-German research project will be funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC UK) with more than 960.000 Euros. It brings together partners from the Universities of Bielefeld, Birmingham, Sheffield, Melbourne, the Nuffield Concil on Bioethics, and the Karlshochschule International University. A pilot study has been funded by the strategic fund of Bielefeld University.

2023 „Evidence-based benevolence? The role of philanthropic organizations global public policies“ (PI, ZIF)
Workshop funded by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZIF), Bielefeld University, on the role of global philanthropic organizations in areas such as global public health, climate change or poverty alleviation. Applicants and chairs: Prof. Dr. Alexandra Kaasch, PD Dr. Marc Mölders, Prof. Dr. Oliver Razum, and, Prof. Dr. Holger Straßheim (all Bielefeld University) together with Dr. Evelyn Moser (Forum Internationale Wissenschaft, Bonn University).

2022-25 "The Worldviews of Ice: Constructions of the Arctic at the Science/Politics Interface” (PI, DFG)
Research project (principal investigators: Mathias Albert and Holger Straßheim, in cooperation with Daniela Portella Sampaio), funded by the German Research Foundation. The project studies how competing narratives of the Arctic, imbued with geopolitical images, are produced in, and altered through, closely interconnected epistemic communities that link the sciences to politics. The aim of the project is (1) to trace how these images are co-produced at relevant interfaces between scientific and political communities dealing with Arctic issues, (2) to inquire about how these images are transmitted into, and received within, wider Arctic epistemic communities, and (3) to show in an exemplary fashion how such images can influence, and actually have influenced, policy-making.

2022-25 "World politics: The emergence of political arenas and modes of observation in world society", Research Training Group 2225 (Co-PI, DFG)
The Research Training Group (RTG) deals with the emergence of world politics as a specific type of politics. With a pronouncedly research-oriented, interdisciplinary, and international profile, it investigates the pathways that have led to the establishment of world politics as a specific form of politics not somehow resulting from the modern form of the (nation) state, but concurrent with it as well as with the principle of sovereign equality.

2020-21 "Expertise and Ethics in Times of Crisis: Political controversies and ethical dilemmas in the COVID-19 Pandemic“ (PI, Strategic Funding, Uni Bielefeld)
Strategic funding by Bielefeld University to support the development of a research project and to establish an international expert and policy network (in cooperation with Dr. Jessica Pykett, University of Birmingham, and Dr. Robert Lepenies, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig

2017 Mapping the Global Networks of Behavioural Public Policy (PI, NUS Singapore)
Research project with Prof. Dr. Michael Howlett, Dr. Sreeja Nair), funded by NUS Behavioural Sciences

2017 The Politics of Simplification, Villa Vigoni Conference, (PI, with Dr. Robert Lepenies, Dr. Kathrin Loer), funded by German Research Foundation, April 2017

2016-19 WZB-Mercator-Forum “Science and Policy” (PI, Mercator Foundation)
Transdisciplinary conference series, Humboldt University Berlin and WZB Berlin Social Science Center (with Dr. Dagmar Simon), funded by the Mercator Foundation

2016-19 NEXUS: Challenges at the interface between climate policy, energy policy, consumer policy and mobility (PI, Mercator Foundation)
Research project at Humboldt University Berlin and WZB Berlin Social Science Center (PI, with Prof. Dr. Andreas Knie and Dr. Dagmar Simon) funded by the Mercator Foundation

2015-16 Using expertise and evidence in consumer policy and energy policy, Humboldt University Berlin and WZB Berlin Social Science Center (PI, Mercator Foundation)
Research project, with Prof. Dr. Friedbert Rüb and Dr. Dagmar Simon, funded by the Mercator Foundation

2011-14 Studying the Changing Orders of Political Expertise (SCOPE) (PI, Volkswagen Foundation)
Research project at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, (PI, with Dr. Dagmar Simon, Prof. Dr. Michael Hutter), funded by the Volkswagen Foundation
The role of science and expertise in society is changing. While the political demand for sound science and evidence has never been higher, experts are confronted with scepticism and claims for public participation. Both tendencies can currently be observed, the scientization of politics and the politicization of science. Focusing on welfare reforms and food safety, this international research project analyses the causes and consequences of changing science-policy relations in Great Britain, Germany, and the US since the mid-90s. By turning to the concept of knowledge orders, we move away from a priori assumptions about the effectiveness or functionality of public policy advice. Instead, we ask how certain modes of expertise and practices of public knowledge production come to be perceived as reliable and how in a given society such knowledge claims are used as a basis for justifying collective choices.

2011 -14 Knowledge politics and welfare state change – German and British labor market policies (Co-I, DFG)
Research project at the University of Darmstadt (with Prof. Dr. Hubert Heinelt), funded by the German Research Foundation
The project aims at identifying the influence of knowledge politics in employment policy reforms in Germany and the UK. We assume that the intensity and depth of welfare reforms depend on the country-specific constellations of knowledge production for decision-making (knowledge orders) and the ability of actors to restructure them.

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