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Bielefeld Graduate School

in History and Sociology

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Teaching and research at the BGHS benefit from the School's many connections with other research institutions, both at Bielefeld University and national and international colleges and universities. This smoothes the way for the members of the BGHS in establishing and expanding their individual and institutional networks.

Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1288 Practices of comparing

Whether in sports, politics or science, the everyday life is shaped by ratings, statistics and competition. Comparing is believed to be objective and to help to obtain clear results. But how neutral is comparing really?

People compare their skills to those of others, companies compare their financial performance, countries compare their gross domestic products. Among other things, comparing influences how someone perceives the other: Does it reveal similarities or differences? What value judgments does it lead to? When do entrenched perspectives sneak into supposedly objective processes of comparing, and why?

This project is the first of its kind to bring together researchers from the fields of history, literary science, philosophy, art history, the political sciences and law to examine how practices of comparing order and change the world. The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1288 ?Practices of Comparing? conducts basic research by shifting the focus away from ?comparisons? to ?practices of comparing?: What are actors doing when they are comparing?

Lund / York / Bielefeld - cooperation

The European networking of young scholars and the exchange on diverse research traditions and theoretical perspectives in history promotes the trilateral cooperation of Bielefeld History and the BGHS with the National Graduate School of History at Lund University and the PhD Program in History at the University of York. Since 2016, the partners have organized an annual International PhD Conference Lund/York/Bielefeld , which takes place alternately at one of the three universities. The conference will focus on the concise presentation of the dissertation project in English, followed by an intensive discussion by the peers and experienced lecturers. Special components of the Doctoral Conference are, on the one hand, a Round Table on questions of scientific career development such as international publishing and, on the other hand, workshops in which scholars from the three partner institutions present their current research topics and discuss them with the doctoral students and cooperation partners.

As part of a two-week desk exchange, up to three doctoral students per year can also participate in academic life at one of the participating partner institutions. The program includes the presentation and discussion of the dissertation project as well as the participation in seminars of the respective doctoral program. The cooperation also promotes workshops organized by doctoral candidates themselves.

The University of Lund

Research Training Group "World politics: The emergence of political arenas and modes of observation in world society" (RTG 2225/1)

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. Using a world society perspective, the RTG inquires how the emergence of world politics has been (and still is) both a corollary of and a precondition for the constitution of modern states. In two main lines of research - 'modes of organization' and 'modes of observation' - it will seek to provide high-quality research output not only within the main participating disciplines (IR/political science, sociology, history, law), but particularly also at the interstices of these disciplines. Through its research program and its institutional affiliations, the RTG seeks to promote a dialogue between the fields and approaches of International Relations, international political sociology, global history, and legal studies in relation to world society approaches.

The main goal of the qualification program is to introduce doctoral researchers as quickly and intensively as possible to the working practices of academic research. The idea is that the best research training for doctoral researchers is to pursue their project in a dense research environment with structured support and feedback from both peers and more senior scholars. In addition to a specific study program, the RTG devises a range of instruments that ensure not only optimal feedback, but also stimulate the development of profiles and visibility that enhance future career prospects. English is the working language, as one additional main goal of the RTG is to increase the international orientation particularly of doctoral researchers. Thus, the RTG fits into the overall goal of broad internationalization adopted by Bielefeld University. In terms of research, it builds on, and seeks to strengthen, the tradition of world society research in Bielefeld.

By studying an essential practice of order and dynamics not only in modern but also in premodern, as well as in European and non-European societies, the SFB seeks to contribute to a model for rethinking history, societies and historical change in the context of current historical and cultural theories.

Johns Hopkins University Baltimore

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, Maryland, is one of the best research universities on the US east coast. Since its founding, the BGHS has an exchange agreement with the Department of History of JHU.
BGHS members are offered the opportunity of taking part in the Johns Hopkins University graduate program, and benefit from intensive courses in small groups. They will also have more than enough time during their stay in the USA for their own dissertation projects. Doctoral candidates in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University have the opportunity during their stay at the BGHS to participate in the taught doctoral programme of the Graduate School, both as concerns academics and social activities. They also will be able to take German language classes and still have enough time to devote to their own dissertation projects.
The exchange programme is limited to one place per year. Stays are from September to May of the academic year.

University of Notre Dame

International PhD Student Workshop Exchange Notre Dame/Bielefeld

The cooperation in postgraduate training between the Department of History of the University of Notre Dame near South Bend, Indiana (USA), the department of History at the University of Bielefeld and the BGHS goes back to 2010; it is based on a PhD workshop oriented towards aspects of theory and methods. This international PhD student workshop takes place every year, with the universities of Notre Dame and Bielefeld alternating as venue. The workshops are conducted in English. The aim of the workshop is to foster an intensive exchange between the PhD students and scholars of both institutions.
The research papers are at the core of the workshops with which the participating students introduce a chapter, a methodological aspect or the analytical design of their doctoral projects. The relevant papers are distributed to all participating students in advance. At workshops, the authors give a short introduction to their projects. A detailed commentary on the research paper by a colleague of the partner university is a major goal. This is followed by a plenary discussion. Central issues for debate are historical issues and the analytical design of the doctoral project, issues related to theory and methods in historiography, the formulation of theses and scholarly historical writing.
The doctoral students involved usually take part in the workshop twice (once in Bielefeld and once in Notre Dame). In this way, not only does the progress achieved in the development of their project become apparent and a topic for discussion, but personal contacts are also deepened. At each meeting new doctoral students join the group, which means that there are always two participating cohorts.

International PhD Student Workshop Notre Dame/Bielefeld 2014 at Bielefeld University
International PhD Student Workshop Notre Dame/Bielefeld 2016 at Bielefeld University

Association for Political History (APH)

Amid great interest, the Association for Political History (APH) was launched during the Leiden international PhD Conference for Political History in September 2014. The association aims to strengthen international cooperation in the field of education and research, thus promoting the quality of research. Furthermore, APH provides high-quality training opportunities for PhD candidates and advanced students pursuing Masters' degrees in Political History.
While APH was inaugurated as a European initiative, it develops an international profile. The association defines Political History broadly and wishes to be inclusive, incorporating, amongst others, the History of Institutions, Parties, Public Policies, Political Cultures and Political Ideas. APH welcomes historians working from different perspectives, such as, for instance, Transnational History or Gender Studies.

An important activity of the APH is the organization of annual conferences, starting in Bielefeld in 2015 (more).
In 2016, Aarhus University will accommodate the conference; in 2017 the host will be Jyväskylä, in 2018 SciencesPo. France, and in 2019 King's College London. Joint educational initiatives will be taken as well as activities to facilitate the publication of the work of (young) historians.
President of the APH is Prof. Dr. Marc Lazar (SciencesPo. Paris). Other members of the board are Prof. Dr. Pasi Ihalainen (Jyväskylä University), Dr. Hagen Schulz-Forberg (Aarhus University), Prof. Dr. Giovanni Orsina (LUISS University Roma), Prof. Dr. Henk te Velde (Leiden University), Prof. Dr. Richard Vinen (King's College London) and Prof. Dr. Thomas Welskopp (Bielefeld University).

The APH's Secretariat is headed by Dr. Margit van der Steen (Research School Political History, The Hague).
Contact and information:,

Citation: Launch of the Association for Political History, 07.09.2014 The Hague, in: H-Soz-Kult, 17.11.2014,


Gruppenbild der APH-Konferenz an der BGHS

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Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE)

The Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE) is a multi-disciplinary research centre with the aim of initiating, pursuing, and disseminating research on organizational aspects of modern society. This also includes research on the changing role of the public sector at the intersection between the public and private sectors and civil society. The centre of this unique institution in Sweden is run jointly by the Stockholm School of Economics and Stockholm University. As a counterpart to a high-level national network of universities, the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology is one oft the international collaboration partners of the SCORE. Other partners oft he SCORE are the Centre de Sociologie des Organisation (CSO) at SciencesPo in Paris, the Center for Risk and Regulation research (CARR) at the School of Economics in London, the Research Center for Capitalism, Globalization and Governance (ESSEC) in Paris as well as the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University.

Department of Design, University of Applied Sciences, Bielefeld

Since 2014, the BGHS has been cooperating with the department of Design of the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences with several projects in Art & Science and Public Science.
In the context of the project A Portrait of a Young Researcher. A photographic art project in the summer semester of 2014, students of photography under the guidance of Professor Roman Bezjak portrayed doctoral students of the BGHS and photographed them while they were working on their dissertations. The results of this photographic art project are shown as a permanent exhibition at the BGHS.
A photo catalogue was also produced where all portrait work is shown, together with information on the photographers involved and on the junior researchers of the BGHS and their research projects.

The current Art&Science Project Visualising Research with the Department of Design of the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences will be presented in December 2016.

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