PhD Scholarship Programme “Trajectories of Change” 2017, Germany

Publish Date: Jul 10, 2017

Deadline: Jul 27, 2017


Both democratization attempts and authoritarian developments in the European neighbourhood demonstrate the critical role of the public sphere for political and social change. Expanding communication technologies help to mobilize the public and enable new forms of exchange. These additional capacities to articulate social and political interests as well as other concerns can be harnessed to increase political pressure. Many regimes react with repression and censorship in order to regain power over the newly-forged public spaces. How does the public sphere change in times of transformation and conflict? Which divisions and relationships of force are constitutive for this social field? How do public spheres vary cross-nationally? How can we distinguish democratic and authoritarian characteristics?

The scholarship programme “Trajectories of Change” addresses historical and current transformation processes in the European neighbourhood. It offers stipends and fieldwork grants for Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences. For 2017, research applications dealing with the changes in the public sphere, and their impact on transformation are especially welcome.

We encourage applications for the following topics, but will also consider other approaches:

  • structural features of the public sphere: access to information, channels, drivers and voices

  • old and new media

  • reconfigurations of the communication landscape on local, national and transnational level

  • language politics and practice

  • hate speech, othering and stereotyping

  • ideology and legitimation in the authoritarian politics

  • state control of public discourse, repression and censorship

  • articulation of interests and values in the language of politics

  • civil society, public sphere and democratic renewal

  • new forms of political and social activism

The programme seeks to support young researchers in the social sciences and history in contributing novel insights into trajectories of change. Both empirical research based on intensive fieldwork and projects centred on theoretical reflection are eligible for support. Innovative and challenging research questions as well as comparative approaches are highly welcome.


In order to be eligible for a Ph.D. scholarship, the applicant must have obtained a university degree that qualifies him or her for Ph.D. studies. Proof of this qualification must be submitted together with the application. Students applying for the pre-doctoral grants should expect to complete their degree in the same year. The program is aimed exclusively at graduates who in the course of their studies have shown above-average academic aptitude and whose research project promises to yield independent and new findings. The Foundation reserves the right to admit qualified applicants who have other sources of income to the program without granting them a full scholarship to cover their living costs.


The application must be submitted in English on the appropriate online form provided by the ZEITStiftung before the deadline. It must contain a research proposal (for doctoral students: max. 7 pages, for pre-doctoral candidates: 3-5 pages, references excluded, 1.5 spacing, 12 point font) outlining the dissertation project, a research plan with the time schedule (max. 2 pages), a copy of the university degree, the curriculum vitae as well as a photo. Two letters of reference by university professors should be submitted through the electronic system provided by the Foundation. For the PreDoctoral Research Grants and the Fieldwork Grants the Foundation requests also an individual budget plan.

Stipend and Methods of Payment

The stipend for the scholarships is € 1,200 per month. Supplementary payments for married scholarship holders will not be granted by the Foundation. The stipend is paid in three-monthly instalments, payable in advance, into an account stipulated by the scholarship holder.

In case of pre-doctoral grants the financial support is limited to max. € 5,000. This single grant should support the development of the dissertation project, including small scale preliminary research and funds for participation in academic conferences.

Fieldwork Grants support travel costs as well as research expenses and add up to max. € 3,000. The Foundation expects to be informed about the progress of the research. This will usually be in the form of a presentation of the work in progress at the students’ conference. In their first year, the Ph.D. students are required to present their project at the scholarship conference held annually in spring, having before submitted in writing a ten-page paper on a specific aspect of their dissertation. The continuation of the scholarship must be approved by the selection committee that is present at the conference.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.


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