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Researching Social Cohesion Internationally

Berlin University Alliance and University of Oxford fund joint alliance projects

News from Feb 25, 2021

Three interdisciplinary research projects are being funded within the framework of the Oxford/Berlin research partnership between the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) and the University of Oxford. The projects address working conditions on digital platforms, institutional change in times of crisis, and the role of museums in the dialog on social cohesion. Total funding amounts to 535,000 euros over 15 months, and funding starts on February 1.

Under the “Inaugural Call for Proposals for Cooperation Groups of the OX|BUA Centre for Advanced Studies 2020,” the selected projects connect different disciplines while also reinforcing the links between Berlin and Oxford and aligning the BUA’s Grand Challenge Initiatives more closely with the strategic partnerships.

Launched in 2020, the OX|BUA Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) has strengthened the Oxford/Berlin research partnership, establishing a prominent international research network and finding mutually beneficial ways to combine the resources and capabilities of Oxford and Berlin. The center evolved out of the Joint Seed Funding projects from 2018 and 2019 and contributes to BUA’s Grand Challenge Initiatives (GCIs) by helping develop research areas and capacity. The first CAS call focused on the GCI “Social Cohesion.” The funded cooperation groups are given the opportunity to implement their projects as flexibly as possible in organizational terms.

“With the research groups that have now been selected, we have succeeded in attracting excellent researchers. The funded projects are characterized by the diversity of their questions and research approaches. These range from applied research and the establishment of platform rating systems, to decentralized case studies of the impact of crises on social cohesion,” says Dr. Ulrike Hillemann-Delaney, director of international affairs at Technische Universität Berlin and spokesperson of the steering committee of the BUA “Cross-Cutting Theme: Internationalization.” “This is where the great advantage of the newly established Centre for Advanced Studies becomes apparent. Particularly during this pandemic with significantly restricted travel opportunities, we hope to be able to test innovative exchange formats with the center.”

The cooperation groups’ projects each take a unique look at the important issues of our time. The different approaches they bring to these topics, which often include a strong emphasis on practical applications, can impact society directly, for example, by developing strategies to improve working conditions. Projects that have already received OX|BER seed funding were eligible to apply. The research projects also had to involve the University of Oxford and at least one partner institution from the Berlin University Alliance.

The Projects in Detail

“FAIRWORK Germany, Improving Working Conditions for Platform Workers in Germany,” Prof. Dr. Jan Kratzer, Technische Universität Berlin, and Prof. Mark Graham, University of Oxford

The team is concerned with the working conditions at digital platform companies, examining questions and problems related to social cohesion in this context. The researchers want to actively contribute to the improvement of working conditions through various measures including the introduction of a ranking system for digital platforms.

“Transitions and Social Cohesion in the Context of Multiple Crises,” Prof. Dr. Sérgio Costa, Freie Universität Berlin, and Dr. Annette Idler, University of Oxford

The researchers are studying social cohesion in the context of multiple crises (political crises, emergencies in border areas, and the Covid-19 pandemic) in Colombia and South American border zones. Among other things, they ask how institutional transformations are influenced by concurrent processes and crises and what impact they have on the social cohesion of communities in border zones. The interdisciplinary project operates at the intersection of sociology and peace and conflict studies.

“Oxford-Berlin Initiative on Museums as Spaces of Social Cohesion and Conflict,” Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy, Technische Universität Berlin, and Prof. Dan Hicks, University of Oxford

The researchers are looking at central areas of the topic of social cohesion. Their work promotes new transnational and interdisciplinary research in the debate on cultural restitution, while foregrounding voices from the “Global South.” The project focuses on the particular importance of museums in dialogs around social cohesion, whether in research or in their role as central sociopolitical sites of a knowledge society.


The Berlin University Alliance

The Berlin University Alliance is a consortium consisting of three major Berlin universities – Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin – and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, established to shape research and education in Berlin. The four partners joined forces to further develop Berlin as a research hub with international drawing power. Together the partners explore major societal challenges, increase public outreach, promote the training of junior researchers, address issues of quality and standards in research, and share resources in the areas of research infrastructure, teaching, diversity, equal opportunities, and internationalization. The Berlin University Alliance is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of Berlin under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder.

Joint press release from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technischen Universität Berlin along with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Press Contact

Hans-Christoph Keller, acting press spokesperson of the Berlin University Alliance and press spokesperson of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Email: medien@berlin-university-alliance.de 

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