Goethe University has attracted two new German
Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) Research Training
Groups. Based in Frankfurt, "Fixing Futures" deals with the
anticipation of "futures" and how societies, organisations and
individuals prepare for them. The second Research Training Group was jointly
applied for with the Technical University Darmstadt (TU Darmstadt) and is
dedicated to the question of how "standards of governance" change the
possibility of collective self-determination.
FRANKFURT. The German
Research Foundation yesterday announced eleven new Research Training Groups,
two of which are located at Goethe University and focus on the social sciences.
Offering new perspectives for young researchers who want to qualify in this
field, the Research Training Group "Fixing Futures" ties in with the
Master's program "Science and Technology Studies. Economies, Governance,
Life" and the interdisciplinary research network "Lab for Studies in
Science and Technology". Spokesperson is sociologist Prof. Thomas Lemke, with
cultural anthropologist Prof. Dr. Gisela Welz acting as co-spokesperson.
Although people have always wondered what
the future might hold, the question has never been as pressing as today.
Contemporary societies find themselves confronted with new kinds of political,
economic and ecological challenges – including, for example, in connection with
global warming, pandemics and new refugee movements. In order to be prepared
for the future, scenarios and problematic situations are anticipated, often
focusing on technological solutions. The future is "fixed" – a term
that holds a dual meaning: "On the one hand, it refers to the act of stabilising
futures so that one can prepare for them. But on the other, it also connotes the
act of repairing futures that are seen as deficient," explains Prof.
Lemke, who will be working in the Research Training Group with eight other
researchers. In addition to sociology and cultural anthropology, researchers
from human geography are also involved in “Fixing Futures".
How do you prepare for events that you
expect to happen in the future? What precautions are taken? How are these
decisions justified? What if the future turns out different and you are not
prepared? Misjudgments of this kind can have serious repercussions. The Research
Training Group will examine three areas: economies, governance and life. What
is striking to spokesman Lemke is that technological solutions are offered in
all areas – with the decisions often left to the individual. He points to the
example of so-called social freezing, i.e. the conscious choice to postpone the
desire to have children into the future in the interest of one's career. "Why
aren't these issues discussed socially," he asks. Whether we are talking
about a gene bank for extinct animal species or a switch to e-mobility, Lemke continues,
people often rely on the credo that "technologies will save us" –
when they could just as well be thinking about how to address the structural
conditions of the problems. The question of power also plays a major role,
Lemke points out, adding that nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of
climate change: Those who suffer most from the consequences are neither
responsible for the causes nor do they have any significant say in finding possible
A total of 14 positions must now be filled
until the Research Training Group starts its work – ten for doctoral students and two for
postdocs. According to Lemke, the Research Training Group will optimally
prepare them for a wide range of professional fields and institutions in the
academic sector and beyond.
The second new Research Training Group is
entitled "Standards of Governance" and was jointly applied for by
Goethe University and TU Darmstadt. Its spokesperson is Jens Steffek, Professor
of Transnational Governance at TU Darmstadt. Democracy researcher Prof. Sandra
Seubert will assume the role of deputy spokesperson. The cross-locational
Research Training Group deals with the concept of "good governance",
which comprises general norms such as transparency, participation and
accountability of those in power. Initially, the Research Training Group will
consist of two groups of ten doctoral students each. Seubert emphasizes that
this is not just about recruiting young scientists: "In view of the tasks
and problems facing democratic societies today, it is very important to train
young people well for different areas of politics, and to connect the knowledge
generated scientifically with society."
Funding for the two Research Training
Groups "Fixing Futures" and "Standards of Governance" will
begin on April 1, 2023, and initially run for five years. There is an option to
continue the funding for another four years.
for download: https://www.uni-frankfurt.de/127949666
These professors are involved in the new Research
Training Aroup "Fixing Futures": Thomas Lemke (photo: Mafra
Merielli), Martina Klausner (photo: private), Peter Lindner (photo: A.
Nikulin), Thomas Scheffer (photo: Uwe Dettmar), Marc Boeckler (photo: private),
Lizzie Richardson (photo: private), Barbara Brandl (photo: Jan-Frederik
Bandel), Josef Barla (photo: Merielli Mafra), Gisela Welz (photo: private).
Prof. Dr. Thomas Lemke
Sociology with a focus on biotechnologies,
nature and society
Institute of Sociology
Phone: +49 (0)69 798-36664
"Standards of Governance":
Prof. Dr. Sandra Seubert
Political Science with a focus on Political Theory
Institute for Political Science
Phone: +49 (0)69 798-36553