THEORIA Funds Ten Research Projects in the Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Greifswald

Science Minister Birgit Hesse hands over the funding certificates to the project coordinators Photo: Ministry of Education, Science and Culture Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

The state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is using the THEORIA Programme to explicitly strengthen fundamental research in the arts and social sciences from 2017 to 2020. The programme's namesake is the classicist Kurt von Fritz, who was the only German Professor to refuse the oath to Adolf Hitler in 1934, as he felt it was not compatible with the freedom of research. “Arts and social sciences help us to gain understanding for the world. They analyse human history, the society and culture in the past and present and thus make way for new perspectives”, says Science Minister Birgit Hesse. “These projects in particular require a free mind and unrestrained scientific curiosity - as once practised by Kurt von Fritz . Today, I hand over the THEORIA funding certificates in his honour and in his name.”

Greifswald’s THEORIA grantees come from the areas of theology, history of art, educational science, philosophy, political science and languages. A total of two doctoral, five postdoc and seven professor grants were obtained. 49 applications were submitted for the three different types of grant (doctoral, postdoc and professor). In addition to the 10 projects at the University of Greifswald, 15 projects at the University of Rostock and two at the HMT Rostock also received funding, amounting to a total of 2.5 million euros. The second call for proposals for the THEORIA programme will take place in autumn 2018. The application window will be between the 1st August and the 30th September and funding will be available from the summer semester 2019 onwards.

Greifswald’s THEORIA Projects

Prof. Amei Koll-Stobbe will supervise the topic of multilingualism research in a joint project, made up of doctoral, postdoc and professor grants. The field of research regarding contact linguistics is highly relevant to society, as multilingualism and transfer of culture are seen as a threat by mainly populist parts of society in Europe. The joint project will continue the research work of the past years on discursive contact linguistics at the Chair of English Language. Apart from funding junior researchers, the joint project will also help to further develop a discursive orientation in linguistics, which has been the focus of many of Prof. Koll-Stobbe’s works.

The joint project “Romantic Painting in Northern Europe in Transcultural Reference and Reception” belongs to Greifswald’s key field of research “Cultures of the Baltic Sea Region” and also highlights the great importance of the interdisciplinary research on romanticism. The art historian Prof. Kilian Heck will coordinate the joint project. The doctoral project will look at the Müller collection in the State Museum of Pomerania. The postdoc project will deal with the artist colony Schwaan and the influence of the landscape painter and art teacher Theodor Hagen on Schwaan’s painters. The town of Schwaan is a cooperation partner of this project. Prof. Heck’s professor grant will trace the transnational connections between romantic painters and end in a monography. Research periods in Copenhagen, Oslo and London are planned.

The political science project “Politics in Rural Regions: Ways to Act and Willingness to Act Using Agricultural Politics as an Example” has been obtained by Prof. Jochen Müller and is part of the interdisciplinary research consort “Think Rural”. The project will look at the challenges of rural regions and ways these can be dealt with by the state, using agricultural politics as an example. Significant differences can be found between the individual German states and the project aims to identify factors which could explain the different views and behaviour of political players at federal state level.

Prof. Christfried Böttrich was also able to gain a postdoc grant. A literary historical study at the Chair of New Testament will look at the entire form of the Gospel of Luke.  The main focus will be on the importance of the separation process of Jews and Christians in the 1st Century for the literary form of the Gospels, their literary classification and the question concerning their paragons. The answers to these questions would have profound consequences for the understanding of the Gospels, which are works that create a sense of identity.

The project “The Logic of Asking Questions: Regulating Interrogative Procedures” is based at Prof. Geo Siegwart’s Chair of Philosophy. In a piece of work on the philosophy of knowledge, the focus should not be on the thorough examination of a reply to a question, but on the question itself. The aim of the two-year research project is to find a constructive pragmatic form of erotetic logic, which can be used in all fields of the philosophy of knowledge.

Theology professor, Heinrich Assel, will use his professor grant to carry out international periods of research at Princeton University, Northwestern University Evanston in Chicago and the Cohen Archive in Zurich. This will mean that Assel’s research results from a comparative case study of three religious theories (Renaissance, Luther Renaissance, dialectical theology) can be discussed by other international experts and lead to a monography and conference volume.

Prof. Stefan Beyerle will look at the religious world of prophecy and identify and interpret fundamental worldviews and interpretations of the oldest Hebrew prophecy in the context of apocalyptic traditions.  The professor grant will enable the Chair of Old Testament periods of research at the Yale Divinity School and the Department of Theology at Uppsala Universitet.

Prof. Thomas Kuhn will examine Christian eschatology in the 18th and 19th Centuries and add to his previous internationally visible research results. In addition to the German-speaking world, he will focus in particular on the English and US Christian revival movements and at the end of his professor grant, he will publish a work on the history of chiliasm.  He has planned archive visits in Germany and Switzerland.

Prof. Andreas Pehnke has also received a professor grant which honours his 24 years of service as a researcher and teacher at the University of Greifswald. The scholar of educational science will use the grant to realise a three-volume biography and collection of works on the progressive teaching and literary works of Willy Steiger. Volume 1 contains an academic biography, Volume 2 examines Steiger’s anti-war literature and the final Volume 3 documents and comments the practice reports of the progressive education scholar.

The linguist Prof. Jürgen Schiewe will use his professor grant to further his previous work on language criticism.  The systematic collection of texts on language criticism with milestone character and the tracing of the epistemological and methodical development of this branch of linguistics will allow the recognised expert to produce a further fundamental work on language criticism.


Contact at the University of Greifswald
Björn Buß
Research Support Centre
Wollweberstraße 1
17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 3834 86-1185