Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences
Young scientists come to the BGSS to engage in research on such wide-ranging subjects as the trafficking of women in different European countries, the security discourse in Polish foreign policy, or income differences in Chile. One research area looks at the ability of modern societies to handle such problems as inclusion and exclusion, discrimination and diversity, heterogeneity and individualization. A second, closely related area of research focuses on democracy. Here, the PhD students take a comparative look at conditions that are important for the establishment, stability and development of democratic structures, and at problems currently faced by democracies.
Just as HU's Institute of Social Sciences has an unusual profile, combining sociology with political science, the BGSS's profile also differs from that of other graduate schools. The BGSS's spokesperson, Prof. Klaus Eder, highlights the school's theoretical component: "The European social sciences have traditionally been strong on theory construction and empirical research. We want to flesh out this tradition, and this makes us different from non-European graduate schools in particular." Another important aim is to form networks with non-university research institutions and international partner universities. The PhD students at the BGSS are given individual support in their work, with joint seminars, courses on methodology and lectures. There is a collegial atmosphere within and between the different generations of PhD students at the BGSS, and this is encouraged by joint events and the well-equipped student offices in the graduate school building.
As far as Nir Levy was concerned, the graduate school's profile offered "the only possibility of doing research in English in a structured program in Germany." The young scientist is comparing immigration and social mobility in Germany and Israel and conducts his research, which is based on statistical data, in both countries. He is studying the opportunities for social advancement among the children of the German generation of refugees who fled to the territory of today's Federal Republic between 1943 and 1948. He compares them with the development of children of Israeli immigrants during the same period. Levy benefits not only from the graduate school's network, but also from the SESS (which stands for Socio-Economic and Statistical Studies), a graduate programme of European social-science institutes. It has an office at the BGSS. Thanks to SESS, Nir Levy has been able to present his research findings at an international conference and is in contact with scientists who are engaged in research on similar topics. "I'm very grateful that, when we need it, we get a lot of support from all sides: from the supervising professors, from fellow students and from the BGSS office," Levy stresses.
The BGSS takes on up to 15 candidates from all over the world, choosing from the approximately 300 students who apply every year. Since academic traditions and training standards differ in various countries, graduates have an opportunity to fill any gaps in their knowledge quickly. "We offer an Introductory Year which gives talented foreign graduates an opportunity to catch up on any basic knowledge they might lack in theory and methodology," Professor Eder explains. Gifted students on the various master's degree programs at the Institute of Social Sciences also benefit from the one-plus-three model: in their second year of study they can simultaneously be accepted into the graduate school's Introductory Year – using what is known as the 'Research Track' – and write their master's dissertation as a pilot project for their doctoral thesis.
Alongside their PhD research, which is continuously supported by their main supervisor and a supervisory commission, the postgraduates attend seminars on theory and courses on methodology, submit conference papers and essays, and present interim results of their work during the three-year PhD program. The credit points they collect during the scientific training program are later shown on a supplementary certificate to the doctoral certificate. Women and men studying for a doctorate are prepared for a scientific or other career of their choice with an additional voluntary mentoring program. Graduating from the BGSS opens many doors to the freshly qualified doctors, ranging from scientific careers to jobs in political consulting, the media and political parties, associations, public administration or business.
One of the BGSS's advantages is its close cooperation with non-university research institutions. Joint workshops and lectures are organized with such renowned institutions as the Social Science Research Centre Berlin, the German Institute for Economic Research and the Centre Marc Bloch. The PhD students at BGSS can participate in extramural research projects and thus gain practical experience. Young scientists from the non-university partner institutions can attend the BGSS training courses and also take on university teaching duties.
Furthermore, the BGSS maintains networks with international partner universities. This enables the PhD students to go to these universities to engage in research. The network includes the European University Institute and the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane in Florence, the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and Kings College London.
- Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB)
- German Institute for Economic Research (DIW)
- Centre Marc Bloch (CMB)
- Hertie School of Governance (HSoG)
- Institute for Educational Progress (IQB)