Paderborner Wissenschaftskolleg

The aim of the Paderborner Wissenschaftskolleg is to set new research impulses at Paderborn University through interdisciplinary research projects and international cooperation.

The call is open to all topics and is aimed at researchers from the postdoc phase onwards (at least two years) from all disciplines of the university. The Wissenschaftskolleg offers the opportunity to apply for support in the development of an interdisciplinary, internationally oriented research project together with up to two external colleagues from foreign universities or research institutions. 
A project team from the research initiative can fully concentrate on developing its research project over a period of six months - free from teaching obligations and in its own rooms, which are available at the AStA city campus.

The call for proposals is issued once a year in July/August (deadline: mid-October) and can then be accessed on the page "Committee for Research and Junior Academics" in the box “Current call for tenders”.

Conditions of funding Paderborner Wissenschaftskolleg

Previous projects of the Paderborner Wissenschaftskolleg

Prof. Dr. Martin Schneider (Universität Paderborn, Management)
Prof. Dr. Claudia Öhlschläger (Universität Paderborn, Komparatistik)

Additional Cooperating Partners:
PD Dr. Alexander Dunst (Universität Paderborn, Amerikanistik)
Prof. Dr. Kirsten Thommes (Universität Paderborn, Management)

Guest Researchers:
Prof. Dr. Isolde Schiffermüller (Universität Verona, Germanistik)
Dr. Sabine Bacouël-Jentjens (ISC Paris, Management)

Project Description:
This project examines discourses (defined as debates and knowledge orders) about the relations between humans and machines from the 1920s to the 2020s by combining perspectives from literary and cultural studies as well as economics and management. The project focuses on literary, anthropological, philosophical, sociological and economic images of “man” as a rational creature who brings forth technology, which may in turn threaten humanity. Technological achievements productively challenge humanity to become creative, but they can also replace human beings as productive forces or as a species altogether. The project pursues the following, interdisciplinary questions:

Which images of humanity emerge in the face of new digital technologies? Do intelligent machines, according to these images, support human beings, or do they change, substitute or even endanger them as a species? Which images of humanity were brought forth by the first industrial machine age during the 1920s and how did these tap into the tradition of humanistic ideas? In which ways were enlightenment, rationality and progress subjected to a critical revision in the aftermath of the 1920s, especially in the development of “critical theory” after World War II? In which ways are these historical conceptions of man and machine related to contemporary perspectives? In how far do they complement or contradict each other?

The uniqueness of this project rests on two characteristics, namely (1) that the focus will be on images of man in relation to technology and machine, and (2) that, in addition to scholarly accounts, we will also consider popular statements on man-machine relations in films, essays and other non-academic forms of text. In the realm of management, such texts include company ethics codes, publicity announcements and statements made by company executives in interviews or in management books. In the realm of literary and cultural studies, similarly, interest focuses on essays, speeches, prefaces, philosophical treatises and the film as a medium of visual culture – all these “miniatures” (kleine Formen) and popular forms may help explore how humans and machines were imagined over time in anthropology, sociology, and social policy. This is because such hybrid texts generate cultural and economic knowledge in the interdisciplinary border region between theory, scholarly endeavours and popularization. Juxtaposing these texts will allow us to derive valid propositions on how man-machine relations transformed themselves historically.

The participants aim at developing a joint perspective and to find additional participants for a joint research proposal.

Prof. Dr. Jutta Weber (Paderborn University, Media, Culture and Society)
Prof. Dr. Eyke Hüllermeier (now LMU Munich, Computer Science)

Guest researchers:
Dr. Doris Allhutter (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Political Science) 
Prof. Dr. Theo Röhle (University of Gothenburg, Media Theory)

Project description
This research project investigates the epistemological and ontological premises, sociotechnical practices and social effects of scoring and ranking in today’s data society. The main research questions are: How and why do automated practices of scoring, ranking and profiling gain significance so rapidly? Today we permanently compare characteristics on an everyday basis which have been incommensurable previously. How and why has this become self-evident? In addition to the search for fair and transparent methods of ranking, this research project also envisages interviews with experts from the field of algorithm-based hiring. Thereby we want to investigate the effects of standardised, supposedly ‘bias-free’ automated evaluation processes and their socio-imaginations. The research project combines perspectives from science & technology studies, media theory, political science, computer science and machine learning. 

Contact: Prof. Dr. Jutta Weber 

Dr. Lena Weber (Paderborn University, Sociology)

Guest researchers:
Prof. Dr. Anne Kovalainen (University of Turku, Economics)
Prof. Dr. Seppo Poutanen (University of Turku, Sociology)

Project description
This cooperation between the fields of economics, sociology and philosophy opens up an innovative perspective on the platform economy, the potentials and limits of the data society, economical relationships, production of knowledge and the related gender inequalities in the area of care work. 
The platform economy is giving rise to new forms of commercial exploitation of user and client data. For example, care platforms such as, or constitute new challenges for informal care work (babysitting and the care of children or dependent relatives), which to date has been organised on private markets. An industry is being created that specialises in coordinating and matching care-givers and care-receivers, in other words assessing them in terms of matching processes, trust and security. There are open questions in this field of research: On what principles do platforms base their matching activities, and to what extent do dimensions of social inequality constitute decisive influencing factors? What motivates clients to look for babysitters via platforms rather than in their neighbourhood? What influence do the profiles of care-givers and care-receivers have on chances of placement? To what extent do care platforms lead to a formalisation of informal care work, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of this? How are the market conditions in this area changing as a result of the emerging platform economy? The project group has set itself the goal of arriving at a common theoretical perspective from which it can make bilateral applications.

Contact: Dr. Lena Weber

Diskurse und Konzepte in Wirtschafts- und Kulturwissenschaften

Wie verändert sich das Bild vom Menschen in Arbeitswelt und Gesellschaft durch neue Technologien und Digitalisierung? Die interdisziplinäre Ringvorlesung wird vielfältige Antworten präsentieren und ein Forum für gemeinsame Diskussionen bieten.

vom 12. April bis 12. Juli  |  jeden Mittwoch  |  16.00 c.t.–18.00 Uhr  |  Hörsaal O1