Postgraduate Research Groups in the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Gutenberg Council for Young Researchers (GYR) provides funds for small postgraduate research groups ("Minigraduiertenkollegs") in the field of the Humanities and Social Sciences - each group comprising four to five doctoral candidates. One of the main objectives of these research groups is to create sustainable structures for promoting early career researchers by offering them the best possible conditions for working on their doctoral projects.

Current Postgraduate Research Groups in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Funding Period: 2024-2027

In the 2023 selection procedure, four new mini-graduate colleges (MGRK) with a duration of three years and a total funding volume of just under EUR 1.3 million were approved.

Spokesperson: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Florian Hett
Co-applicants: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Andrej Gill, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Michael Kosfeld, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christine Laudenbach

Research Agenda

Precise measurement is a hallmark of empirical scientific practice. Inspired by economics' strong emphasis on individual choice behavior as main object of investigation, recent years have seen rapid developments in the design and application of novel measurement protocols based on experimental economic methods, capturing differences in individual characteristics, and applied to better understand differences in economically relevant domains.

As an apparently independent development, quantitative social science research and specifically economics have by now broadly adopted the experimental approach for the identification of causal effects. In recent years experimentation has also increasingly moved outside the laboratory and is regularly applied to field settings, having become a common tool to evaluate policy and understand behavior of individuals, firms, and organizations.

While randomized experiments have classically focused on estimating average treatment effects, attention is now shifting towards also analyzing their heterogeneity. This is particularly relevant for the application of research findings to practice as it allows for tailoring programs to individual characteristics and overcome “one-size-fits-all” approaches.

By starting this graduate group we aim to lay the grounds for building and institutionalizing an active young researcher community, systematically fostering and advancing the development and utilization of behavioral measurement tools and its application to field experiments in empirical social science research. Notably, the group will not only focus on the application of these two methodological paradigms in isolation but also utilize their synergies: If behavioral measures are helpful in detecting individual heterogeneity, embedding them within randomized control trials in the field constitutes a promising approach to systematically analyze systematic heterogeneity of treatment effects.

Spokesperson: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Immanuel Ott
Co-applicants: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Stefanie Acquavella-Rauch, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Birger Pertersen

Research Agenda

The aim of the mini-graduate program is to approach the fluid and heterogeneous genre Symphonic Poem from several cultural-historical perspectives. The diversity of the genre will be considered in order to go beyond the works of individual composers. Using intra- and interdisciplinary approaches, various subject categories, reception attitudes, and compositional styles will be examined regarding their cultural interpretation in the long 19th century.

Therefore, previous research on the genre needs to be put into perspective through new hermeneutical approaches. Three sets of questions need to be addressed: First, it will be examined how ideas about the 'content' of music, which were a major point of contention in music aesthetics and theory in the first half of the 19th century, are reflected in the compositional aesthetics within the genre. Second, in analogy to the established studies of 19th-century opera, it is important to discuss questions of subject selection and thus to take a look at the relationship of the Symphonic Poem to other genres. Third, the genre will be contextualized as part of a formation of national identification patterns that often extends far into cultural production.

Thus, by interweaving cultural-historical perspectives with those of compositional practice, it will be investigated to what extent national identities also manifest themselves in compositional and aesthetic terms. The interdisciplinary exchange between musicology and music theory is particularly suited to these questions. It is only through interdisciplinary exchange that questions of cultural and compositional practices can be examined in the context of the narrative structure of musical works. For this purpose, a multidimensional concept of supervision was developed that will also be tested for its transferability to other disciplines.

Spokesperson: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Barbara Henning
Co-applicants: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Blank, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Nina Gallion, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Lipps


Research Agenda

Within the MGRK framework scholars will research case studies on diversity and social boundaries in urban
contexts from Graeco-Roman antiquity to the 19th century.

Our starting point is the observation that under
different historical circumstances, key moments can be identified in which previously latent or implicit potentials for differentiation within urban societies are condensed, solidified or dissolved in such ways that they become visible and explicable both for norm-giving authorities and for different groups and actors concerned by these normative interventions.

A joint focus on categories of being or being perceived as strange/rs opens up space for comparative discussions of these processes from a multidisciplinary perspective: together, we are investigating the dynamics, catalysts, speeds and turning points of processes of urban differentiation, as well as the written and material traces that these constellations have left behind.

Call for applications

Spokesperson: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Barbara Thums
Co-applicants: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rainer Emig, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Immanuel Ott, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gregor Wedekind

Research Agenda

The Miniature Graduate School examines the connections between ecology and aesthetics in the years 1750 to 1850. It analyses ecological issues in aesthetic contexts before the separation of the different cultures of knowledge came into effect in the course of the 19th century and the term “ecology” was coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866. It is the goal of the Graduate School to explore the importance of the aesthetic in the formulation of a range of ecologies around 1800.

The arts around 1800 focus on an awareness of the interplay of culture and nature in the environment, in social relations and human subjectivity. The arts thus develop an understanding that highlights nature as a realm of aesthetic experience and the interconnectedness of human beings and nature. In musical aesthetics of the time there are perspectives that seek to unite all the phenomena in the world in a symphonic “world sound”, while the listening self simultaneously dissolves in these sounds. In the visual arts landscape painting emerges as a new leading category.

Literary Romanticism also features complex aesthetic experiments. While British Romanticism responds strongly to the Industrial Revolution – both by producing nostalgia and addressing class struggle – German Literature foregrounds the nature philosophy of German Idealist Philosophy. It transforms the traditional microcosm-macrocosm relation into a more-than-human relationship between the organic and the inorganic through a poeticising of science. Within the scope of the Graduate School ecological aspects of the new and powerful concept of landscape in literature, the visual arts and music will be foregrounded together with the crisis experiences of modernity around 1800 and the ever more precarious relations between human beings and their environment.

The plan is to work towards an interdisciplinary connection between Art, Literary and Music Studies through the methods of Ecocriticism in order to found a research platform entitled Environmental Humanities at JGU. It will be connected to already established activities and contribute to the JGU initiative “Sustainability and  Sustainable Development”.


Funding Period: 2021-2024
In the 2019 selection process, three new Research Groups with a duration of three years and a total funding volume of 762,000 EUR were approved.

Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaja
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Mita Barnjee, Prof. Dr. Walter Bisang, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Marcus Maurer, Prof. Dr. Christian Schemer, Prof. Dr. Jochen Roeper

Research Agenda

Based on prior research and the preliminary studies conducted by participating principal investigators of the MGRK DIAPASON, the online information landscape in which today’s higher education students acquire a large amount of their domain-specific knowledge is analyzed in depth, structurally and semantically.

To this end, approaches from communication science, linguistic typology, literary studies, medical and economics education and domain-specific didactics are included in five PhD projects. By describing the online sources most commonly used by medicine and economics students when solving domain-specific tasks in their respective domains (regular course assignments and Internet-based tasks), the contemporary online information landscape is “mapped” with regard to its media-specific, linguistic, narrative, subject-specific, and didactic properties and quality. The dataset to be systematically analyzed in the PhD projects is internationally unique and has already been collected from Internet-based assessments, including the initial analysis of log data of students’ online navigation, along with the information sources they used.

The data corpus covers online information sources on selected study topics about key fundamental concepts in the domains of economics and medicine (from universities’ core curricula). The PhD projects in this MGRK analyze the information sources and students' learning outcomes (i.e. their written texts) in great depth, focusing on selected aspects to identify and classify characteristics of the online information that students use for learning over the course of their studies, which are expected to significantly influence their knowledge acquisition.

Given students’ increasing use of the Internet as their main information source in higher education today, this mapping of online information is one of the necessary prerequisites for understanding and explaining students’ domain-specific learning and knowledge development in the digital age.


Spokesperson: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Constantin Wagner
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Karin Bräu, Prof. Dr. Alexandra Klein, Prof. Dr. Carmen Mörsch

Research Agenda

Intersektionale Diskriminierungserfahrungen sind allgegenwärtig. Schule, Soziale Arbeit, kulturelle
Bildung und Hochschulen stellen hier keine Ausnahmen dar. Im Hinblick auf Universitäten als Bildungs- und Wissenschaftsorganisationen wird damit einerseits virulent, inwiefern Diskriminierung
in Wissensbestände und -erwerb eingelagert ist und andererseits, welche Möglichkeiten diskriminierungskritischen Bildungsprozessen in der universitären Lehre zukommt. In den letzten Jahren
sind vermehrt selbst- und machtreflexive Lehr-/Lernmaterialien entstanden, die auch in der Hochschule eingesetzt werden. Gleichzeitig ist noch ungeklärt, welche Bedingungen für diskriminierungskritische Bildungsprozesse nötig sind, wie Widerstände produktiv gemacht und Prozesse eines diskriminierungskritischen Conceptual Change befördert werden können.
Unser Forschungsprogramm setzt an diesem Desiderat an: Im Rahmen universitärer Lehrveranstaltungen werden die Auseinandersetzung mit diskriminierungskritischen Materialien, die Umgangsweisen mit dabei auftretenden Widerständen sowie die Entwicklung von Haltungen und veränderten pädagogischen Handlungsweisen bei den Studierenden, kurz: Bildungsprozesse, untersucht. Dabei fokussieren wir auf die Auseinandersetzung mit Ungleichheit und Diskriminierungskritik im Bereich der Lehrer_innenbildung, der Sozialen Arbeit und der kulturellen Bildung.
Eine intersektionale Perspektive, welche von komplexen und miteinander verwobenen Ungleichheitsverhältnissen ausgeht, ermöglicht es, in der Analyse von universitären Lehr-/Lernsettings Homogenisierungen und kategoriale Zuschreibungen zu vermeiden und verschiedene Differenzlinien
in ihrem Zusammenwirken und ihrer Prozessierung in den Blick zu nehmen. Damit zielen wir auf
Wissensdesiderate von hoher Dringlichkeit und Relevanz, auf die es bislang im deutschen Kontext
noch keine befriedigenden Antworten gibt.


Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Claudia Landwehr
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Kai Arzheimer, Prof. Dr. Phillip Harms, Prof. Dr. Sascha Huber, Prof. Dr. Otte Gunnar

Research Agenda

Processes of polarization and the rise of populism seem to undermine foundations of liberal and
democratic institutions, giving rise to concerns about the state and future of democracy itself. We
assume that the liberal democratic order ultimately rests upon a procedural consensus on the
legitimacy and efficacy of its institutions, which grants these institutions resilience in times of trouble.
Societal transformation processes such as globalization, digitalization and pluralization cause
challenges to this consensus and seem to make institutional adaptation and reform necessary. Against
this background, the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic with its consequences constitutes a major shock,
triggering a crisis in which institutions need to prove their stability and resilience in a situation where cracks and fissures in the procedural consensus have already become apparent.
The Resilient Institutions group will assess factors that compromise or enhance institutional resilience both with regard to longer-term structural transformations of societies and in light of the Covid-19 shock. Supervisors and graduate students have backgrounds in different disciplines that each study institutions from a distinct angle: economics, political science and sociology. From this broad interdisciplinary perspective, the PhD-projects explore how societal transformation processes and the acute crisis create challenges for liberal representative democracy. Collaboratively, the group will seek to map the scope and content of the procedural consensus on liberal democratic institutions in order to gain an estimate of how firmly these are rooted in mass support and thus how likely they remain to withstand contestation. In their individual projects, graduate students address questions regarding the importance of diffuse support for democracy, the effects of institutional design on democratic legitimacy, changes in processes of opinion and will formation, shifting loyalties and emerging new cleavages.


Former Postgraduate Research Groups in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Funding period: 2018-2021

Main applicant: Prof. Dr. Barbara Thums
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Michael Roth, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Mirko Uhlig


Main applicant: Prof. Dr. Alexandra Schneider
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Friedemann Kreuder, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Kristina Köhler, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Schabacher, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sarah Scholl-Schneider, Prof. Dr. Michael Simon, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Julia Stenzel, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Mirko Uhlig, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Benjamin Wihstutz


Funding period: 2015-2018

Main applicant: Prof. Dr. Christian Dormann
Co-applicants: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Verena Haun, Prof. Dr. Thomas Rigotti, Prof. Dr. Klaus Wälde

Abstract (in German)

Main applicant: Prof. Dr. Heide von Felden
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Marina Hennig, Prof. Dr. Peter Preisendörfer, Prof. Dr. Stefan Weyers

Abstract (in German)

Main applicant: Prof. Dr. Dilek Dizdar
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Andreas Gipper, Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Kelletat, Prof. Dr. Birgit Menzel, Prof. Dr. Michael Schreiber

Abstract (in German)

Main applicant: Prof. Dr. Ruben Zimmermann
Co-applicants: Prof. Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Horn, PD Dr. Dorothea Erbele-Küster

Abstract (in German)