MECS is an Institute for Advanced Study on 'Media Cultures of Computer Simulation' funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at Leuphana University Lüneburg.
Envisaged for a period of eight years, MECS began work in April, 2013. With a budget of over four million euros for the first four-year period, MECS is one of only fourteen Institutes for Advanced Study funded by the German Research Foundation in Germany and the only one in Lower Saxony.
One of MECS's chief tasks is the establishment of an international fellow network. To achieve this, research grants will be awarded every semester to senior, junior and research fellows for a period of up to six months, as well as invitations for shorter stays and for lectures. A further area of emphasis are the research projects by the directors and associates (2 junior directors, 3 post-docs and 3 Ph.D. students), as well as their cooperation with the researchers at Leuphana.
The institute is a place for transdisciplinary academic exchange which provides experienced scholars from the media and cultural studies and natural and technical sciences the opportunity to come together with Ph.D. students and post-docs to research the phenomena of computer simulation from a media-cultural perspective.
A program of evening lectures, workshops, colloquia and international conferences during the semester is part of the institute's public activities. The objective of MECS is to investigate computer simulation as research practice in its historical formation, its epistemology and its technological-medial constitution in the terms
of the respective science in which it is used.
The research focuses on the question of which problems and knowledge constellations can be answered by computer simulation, which new forms of knowledge it generates and to what extent it represents a historical break. The epistemological relevance and the wideranging applications of computer simulations are based on the fact, according to the initial hypothesis, that the constellations are fundamentally different for the various spheres of knowledge. For this reason, MECS is aligned with media and science studies and orientated on case studies. Case study investigation focuses on: 1. the computer's specific technological materiality; 2. the research logic and laboratory practices generated by the object under investigation; 3. the actors of knowledge production.