Research and Learning Schemes at the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt

Post its an Korkwand

At the heart of the structured research programme at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies lie the (1) colloquia focused on the individual PhD and postdoctoral projects. In addition to these sessions, resident fellows and post-doctoral researchers offer supplementary (2) seminars and/or (3) workshops on selected themes. On occasion these workshops and seminars may even be organized in collaboration with external colleagues. Internationally renowned researchers are regularly invited to give (4) talks and (5) guest lectures with an integrated discussion component. Furthermore, the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt organizes (6) conferences at regular intervals, and doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers are always invited to participate in these. Finally doctoral candidates are required to take part in four training courses (7) offered by the University of Erfurt (or similar institutional bodies) over the course of their three-year stay at the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt.

The involvement of doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers in the planning and organization of the Center’s events has two aims. The first is to expose them to the varied and interconnected intellectual activities that take place there; the second is to develop their management and coordination skills beyond the strictly academic realm.

Like all other lectures and seminars offered at the University of Erfurt, academic events arranged by the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt undergo an official evaluation process. The feedback received is subsequently integrated into the planning of future events.

Colloquia

Colloquia at the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt are chaired by the supervisor of the project being presented. In the case of the workshop reports that resident professors and fellows must submit annually, the colloquia are chaired by a colleague. Before the official start of the semester every PhD candidate and postdoctoral researcher is allotted a time slot to present his or her work. Participation in these colloquia, as well as a presentation of one’s own research once every semester, is compulsory for all candidates. All scholars and Kollegiaten must attend at least twenty colloquia per semester (candidates with exceptional circumstances, such as family matters, may sometimes be exempted from this rule). Each colloquium lasts two hours.

Candidates presenting at a colloquium must distribute a summary or extract of their work (max. 20 pages) to the other participants at least one week before the scheduled event. On the occasion of a candidate’s first colloquium, this extract may consist of a detailed research proposal. However, for all further colloquia candidates must prepare parts of their actual research chapters. Professors and fellows of the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt usually present journal articles, book chapters or lectures they are preparing at the time, and predistribute in the same fashion.

To allow colloquium participants to focus fully on the discussion without losing track of the various comments, criticisms and suggestions, all colloquia are officially recorded in writing. The existence of regular and structured minutes from the colloquia also facilitates the supervision process of PhD candidates.

After each colloquium the presenter must arrange an evaluation meeting with his/her supervisor. During this meeting, candidates should discuss which criticisms and suggestions to apply to their work and how to proceed further. Between their two colloquium presentations, degree candidates must schedule at least one additional meeting with their respective supervisors in order to keep them informed about their progress.

Seminars

Seminars at the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt are given either by resident fellows or by external guests. All such events take the form of block seminars, during which a set of previously identified core issues is discussed on the basis of texts selected in advance. All seminar participants read the text (usually 4-5 pages for a one-day seminar) beforehand and prepare comments. Candidates will briefly summarize the texts at the beginning of the session.

The goal of these seminars is to debate with academic specialists particular questions that are of relevance for a high number of Kollegiaten. Furthermore, the seminars help to integrate the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt into wider, international research networks. All PhD candidates must attend a minimum of one seminar per semester.

Workshops

Based on thematic demand, fellows and post-doctoral scholars may offer small-scale workshops related to the subject of their own research to a more limited number of doctoral candidates. These workshops focus on specific themes, texts, questions or methods, including introductions to particular methodologies for candidates from different disciplinary backgrounds, who may require additional skills for effective interdisciplinary work.

The so-called ‘seminars on the classics’, which provide a brief overview of the life and work of frequently cited, influential figures and ideas from various disciplines, have proven especially popular in this context (usually the presentations last 30-40 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of discussion). In the past, these seminars have explored the work of Max Weber, Emilie Durkheim, Immanuel Kant, Pierre Bourdieu, Georg Willhelm Friedrich Hegel, Carl Schmitt, Emanuel Lévinas, and many others. Terminologies and ideas investigated include the notions of rhetoric, democracy and Cultural Protestantism (Kulturprotestantismus). In addition to their informative and intellectual value, these workshops also provide PhD candidates with the opportunity to gain some experience in teaching.

Finally, the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt also offers workshops given by professionals outside the academy, such as journalists of national newspapers and editors of large publishing houses, in order to raise awareness about different kinds of job opportunities outside academia.

Participation in the workshops is voluntary.

Academic Talks

Every semester the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies invites a number (5-6) of internationally renowned scholars to give talks on themes addressing the academic emphases of the institute. These lectures usually last 45-60 minutes and are followed by a discussion of similar length. They are open to the public and are frequently attended by representatives of other departments and centers at the University of Erfurt. For all members of the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt guest lectures are compulsory.

Guest Lectures

For those visiting scholars who only spend a limited amount of time at the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt and do not have the opportunity to give a formal lecture or to present a paper, the concept of university-wide guest lectures was introduced. These lectures last approximately 45 minutes and are followed by an equal period of discussion.

Within the framework of the PhD program, participation in guest lectures counts the same as colloquium attendance. However, candidates are not allowed to substitute more than four guest lectures per semester for colloquia.

Conferences

Every year the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies hosts a number of international conferences related to the foci of its research programme. PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers are encouraged to participate in these conferences and on occasion even to contribute.

In order to prevent placing further demands on PhD candidates, participation in these conferences is generally voluntary. Nonetheless, those candidates wishing to present at conferences will always be actively supported.

Further Training

The Department of Human Resource Development for Institutions of Higher Education in the state of Thuringia (HIT) offers training programs to young academics seeking additional, specialized qualifications. These training modules focus on skills ranging from didactics to particular research methodologies (see https://www.hit-thueringen.de for details). In addition to taking part in workshops for personal skill enhancement in specified areas, candidates may also acquire a certificate in ‘Didactics for Higher Education’ after completing a set number of modules. The content of these modules covers voice training, rhetorical skills, presentation methods, as well as fundraising and management skills. Finally, individual coaching sessions are available to PhD students.

All PhD candidates at the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt must take part in four one-day training workshops over the course of their three years at the institute.

In addition, candidates have the option to conduct a seminar on their research topic for BA students. Through this, the Kolleg hopes to further candidates’ didactic expertise and to improve their presentation skills. One such teaching assignment (Lehrauftrag) may be counted as a training workshop.