LIAS - the runway for global research

2024-02-09 International science continues to set course for Lüneburg. A good one and a half years after the founding of LIAS - Leuphana Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and Society - the first cohort of the nine invited researchers is concluding their stay. From April 1, the new international fellows will be working at Leuphana. Once again, the group of outstanding researchers comes from the most diverse parts of the world - from Nigeria, Argentina, the USA, Turkey, Iran, France, Brazil, Germany and the UK - and brings with it a wide variety of perspectives. The organizational integration of LIAS into the university community has worked in record time.

"Spaces for thinking, collective discussion and creativity, such as those provided by LIAS, are increasingly difficult to create under today's university conditions, although they are essential not only for the idea of the university itself, but also for its effectiveness," says Professor Erich Hörl. He is Co-Director of LIAS and Vice President for Research at Leuphana. Preparations for the second cohort's stay began early on, so that the fellows can use the precious time without a long start-up period on site, start their research straight away and, above all, push ahead with cooperative content-related undertakings without delay. The LIAS management made a decisive contribution to this, Hörl continued.

The LIAS scholarships run for up to 12 months. This enables outstandingly qualified scientists to take an important step in their early career phase. LIAS also invites established scientists as "Senior Fellows", who also act as mentors for younger colleagues, and integrates artists as "Artist Fellows". A special feature is the collaboration with a public figure as a "Public Fellow". In the future, LIAS would also like to act more as a contact point for scientists from Lower Saxony and bring them into closer contact with international researchers relevant to their topics.

The LIAS topics focus on the conditions of coexistence in a globalized world and, contrary to the dominant talk of a lack of alternatives and a fundamental crisis, aim to open up new ways of thinking and approaches that promote social sustainability. Researchers from the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences address fundamental questions at the interface of diagnosis, reflection and imagination. The concentrated work takes place in the research center of the Leuphana Central Building. The personal exchange between the researchers and the university community takes place at events across the campus and they also have an impact on Lüneburg's culturally open urban society.

"An IAS - Institute of Advanced Studies - basically guarantees the freedom of research. However, the Leuphana model goes further and proves that science has an impact on society." Susanne Leeb is convinced of this. She is Professor of Contemporary Art and Co-Director of LIAS. The response to the international call for fellowships is always very high. The quality development process works well and the international advisory board, which covers various disciplines and is also geographically diverse, i.e. represents different research cultures, selects the candidates with great academic prudence, so that the selection group complements each other perfectly, concludes Leeb.

There are almost 25 IAS in Germany. They are extremely relevant and interesting in terms of science policy. The IAS play a special role in governance, for example in the organizational and regulatory framework of a university. They emphasize the traditional spirit of freedom of research and allow participants the greatest possible scope for development. This makes them diametrically opposed to highly regulated program and collaborative research.

Dr. Katja Rieck, Managing Director of LIAS, is convinced that "these two worlds" will take Leuphana forward. "As the first cohort draws to a close, we are noticing how the international research impetus is spreading throughout the university, benefiting students, researchers from all disciplines and university management."