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    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
    © Uni Bielefeld / Philipp Ottendörfer

From algorithms to antiquity: through its various projects and initiatives, CeUS connects people and research for a new, interdisciplinary approach to the topic of uncertainty.

The Collaborative Research Center 1283 is an interdisciplinary endeavor aiming to develop basic concepts and theories for dealing with “good” and “bad” uncertainty. The new insights are applied to unsolved problems in various fields of economics and the natural sciences, especially in biology and physics. The CRC consists of 18 projects, most of which are located at the Faculty of Mathematics, but also at the Center for Mathematical Economics, the Faculty of Physics, and the Faculty of Technology. The funding is provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and amounts to about 10 million Euro in the second funding period (2021-2025). In particular, it covers 12 PhD positions and 14 postdoc positions.

Whether as comparisons of nations and states, Nobel Prize awards, race-based analogies and, more recently, the many corona-related comparisons – the practices of comparing are all-pervasive. They form the backbone of arguments and actions of a broad range of actors in business, culture, science and politics. Practices of comparing both order and change the world, construct and question societal hierarchies and power relations both past and present.

The Collaborative Research Centre 1288 (‘Sonderforschungsbereich’) investigates the history of practices of comparing from antiquity through to the present and transfers both the everyday and institutionalised forms of comparing as well as the scientific methods thereof into a new research agenda. Practices of comparing are not objective scholarly methodmost of all the criteria for comparison are not given but chosen: As a multifaceted practice, comparisons are the focus of our interest, namely, its social and cultural causes, its methods as well as its impact.

Often, technical explanations presuppose knowledge about AI and are therefore difficult to comprehend. In the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 318 “Constructing Explainability”, researchers are developing ways to involve users in the explanation process and thus create co-constructive processes explanations. Therefore, the interdisciplinary research team investigates the principles, mechanisms, and social practices of explaining and how these can be taken into account in the design of AI systems. The goal of the project is to make explanatory processes comprehensible and to create understandable assistance systems.

The algorithmic turn of prediction, connected with Big Data and Machine Learning, presents an exciting and urgent challenge for the social sciences. Recent advances in digital forecasting claim to provide a predictive score for individual persons or singular events, thereby introducing a new way to manage the uncertainty of the future. But knowing the future in advance is not only advantageous. In fact, for our society, uncertainty about the future is also a resource.

Since modernity, with the support of probability calculus various social institutions in different domains have developed means of coping with ignorance of the future by starting with the one thing that we all share - uncertainty. What happens to the stabilized forms of management of the future when their first resource - shared uncertainty - is missing?

This project includes a set of theory-driven empirical studies of the transition from probabilistic forms of uncertainty management to the new algorithmic forms of prediction.

The Water-Futures project aims to develop a theoretical basis for designing smart water systems, which can provide a framework for the allocation and development decisions on drinking water infrastructure systems.

Uncertainty has become a hallmark of today’s societies; think of environmental and climate policy, financial markets and their crises, health and pandemics, long-run stability of pension systems, or digitalization and technological development. Contrary to earlier episodes of uncertainty, however, the environmental, demographic, economic, and technological uncertainty we experience these days is perceived as persistent, as opposed to being a consequence of lacking experience in a new environment. This raises new positive and normative questions: How can we live with persistent uncertainty, and how should we live with it? With the proposed RTG 2865, we aim at improving our understanding of these (in spirit) classical economic questions, taking recent events and new methodological insights into account.

Many of the main challenges Europe currently faces, like mitigating climate change, fostering a transition to a low-carbon economy, or governing the development, diffusion of new technologies are difficult to deal with because of their dynamic complex nature.

The Innovative Training Network EPOC aims at advancing the state-of-the-art and the applicability of computationally intensive methods for decision and policy analysis in such complex and uncertain environments. Particular focus will be on the application of such methods in the domains of climate change and innovation. 

- Studying Regional Development Dynamics and their Political Consequences -

Living conditions in Germany today show evidence of increasing and rapidly changing regional disparities in structural, demographic and economic domains. These disparities often take the form of an adverse access to health care facilities, childcare provision, education and other public services as well as regional labour market opportunities, business climate, housing and transport ation infrastructures. The Leibniz-ScienceCampus researchers investigate how these regional social and economic opportunities influence social cohesion, expectations, political attitudes, preferences and behavior and thereby exacerbate or mitigate social inequality, social cohesion, political conflicts and radicalization.

SAIL is an interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration of Bielefeld University, Paderborn University, Hochschule Bielefeld – University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSBI) and OWL University of Applied Sciences and Arts (TH OWL), funded by the MKW NRW. 

Current systems that incorporate AI technology mainly target the introduction phase, where a core component is training and adaptation of AI models based on given example data. SAIL’s focus on the full life-cycle moves the current emphasis towards sustainable long-term development in real life. The joint project SAIL addresses both basic research in the field of AI, its implications from the perspective of the humanities and social sciences, and concrete applications in the field of Industry 4.0 and Intelligent Healthcare.

The Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG) was founded in Bielefeld in 1996 with the aim of filling a gap in interdisciplinary research on conflict and violence. Meanwhile, the IKG is one of the leading German research institutions in this field and offers a comprehensive structure for interdisciplinary theory development and empirical research on politically and socially relevant phenomena around conflict and violence and their implications for social cohesion, participation, democracy and peace. The ICG sees a central responsibility in its contribution to social and political discourses. Accordingly, there is an ongoing dialogue between academia and civil society. Various research projects on aspects around conflict and violence are therefore based at the IKG and it can draw on an extensive network with academic and non-academic partner institutions as well as research groups at local, national and global level.

The new graduate school “Health Policy and Systems in Uncertainties” has been established in the School of Public Health. The graduate school aims to apply an interdisciplinary perspective to the study and design of health policy and health systems under situations of uncertainty, in order to better understand its consequences for health system resilience and capacity to act as well as ultimately for population health.

The Graduate School is offering funding for eight doctoral candidates for a three-year period. 

In a constantly changing world, language as our primary tool of communication must allow for the effective expression of novel thoughts and experiences. This requires linguistic creativity, i.e., the creation of novel linguistic units that are used in communication just as successfully as linguistic routines. Linguistics has made significant progress in the last 50 years in understanding the regularities and routines behind conventionalised systems of linguistic signs, their underlying cognitive processes and how to model them. Thus far, the linguistic creativity that frequently occurs in everyday conversation has not been addressed with the systematicity that it deserves. CRC1646 will undertake such a systematic investigation of linguistic creativity as a vital feature of speakers' linguistic competence.


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