Research Alliance Ruhr

Top international research on pressing issues of the future - this is what the University Alliance Ruhr has been working on in four research centres and one college since 2021. The initiative of the Ruhr Conference is a testament to the Ruhr area’s transformation into a vibrant metropolis of knowledge. Unprecedented career opportunities are unfolding here and now for excellent scientists and scholars from all over the world.

College for Social Sciences and Humanities

College for Social Sciences and Humanities

As an Institute for Advanced Study, the College for Social Sciences and Humanities promotes excellence in research in social sciences and humanities and advances international cooperation of the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr). The research college provides opportunities for developing and implementing innovative research projects and conceives as its mission to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration. The fundamental cornerstones of the College are research professorships, research groups, and an international senior fellowship programme.

Founded in 2021 as part of the Research Alliance Ruhr, the College for Social Sciences and Humanities pursues the goals to promote high-profile research within the UA Ruhr and to advance its international network and visibility. As an Institute for Advanced Study, it establishes a cross-university forum for exploring and developing new, innovative fields of research in social sciences and humanities. To this end, the College is by principle open with regard to topics and disciplines. Particularly through discussion with international visiting scientists, researchers of the UA Ruhr have the opportunity of expanding well-established key fields of research and exploring new research topics, approaches, and methods. The College acts as facilitator for the scientific dialogue between different disciplines in social sciences and humanities, and for building sustainable international relations in research. Moreover, fostering communication with the general public, society, the arts, and the economic sector also forms a part of its mission. An equally important concern of the College is to support scientists in early career stages.

Cornerstones and Activities

The fundamental cornerstones for the College’s activities are constituted by high-profile Research Professorships, interdisciplinary Research Groups, and the international Senior Fellowship Programme. Through its activities, the College establishes neuralgic nodes and systematic interfaces between institutions, disciplines, and fields of research within the UA Ruhr. Thus, it connects the research landscape in social sciences and humanities in the Ruhr area forming an inter-institutional network.


The three Research Professorships will be filled with internationally distinguished scientists, whose research profiles bear prolific intersections with at least two universities of the UA Ruhr. A reduced teaching load releases capacity for intensive and focussed research activities. The denominations of the professorships were defined in a participatory process with members of the addressed faculties of the UA Ruhr. They are distinctively interdisciplinary by design.

Further information on the key fields of research will be provided after the professorships have been appointed.


By establishing three research groups, the College opens up appealing opportunities for scientists to develop and shape their research career. Outstanding postdoctoral scientists will assume leadership of the research groups to pursue a research topic of their own choice in team with two PhD candidates respectively over a fixed period of time. The group leaders are recruited in a competitive, cross-university admission process. The potential compatibility of the research topic with the research landscape of the UA Ruhr is of essential relevance.


Up to 20 Senior Fellowships per year are awarded to scientists, who are active members of a foreign university or research institution and feature an internationally recognised, outstanding research profile in the field of social sciences and humanities. In March and September respectively, up to ten Senior Fellows may begin six-months residencies in Essen. Distinguishing features of the Programme are its openness regarding topics and disciplines as well as the incentive to collaborate: Visiting scientists have the liberty to pursue pioneering research projects in collaboration with tandem partners of the UA Ruhr. The fellows may thus enrich the research discourse with new stimuli.

Further information on the Programme can be found here.


Professor Julika Griem, Director:

"The College is designed as a space where research evolves across disciplines and universities, where academic questions are examined from multiple angles, and where researchers from the UA Ruhr form new bonds with international colleagues. Our focus here is on individual collaboration and small groups rather than large-scale projects. Through our Senior Fellowship Programme, we invite renowned researchers from all over the world to the Ruhr region.

As we all come from very different disciplines and backgrounds, we strive to develop new perspectives for the broad field of the social sciences and humanities. Under the roof of the College, you will find experts representing a wide array of approaches and methodologies, eager to tackle subjects ranging from social behaviour and interaction, communication, education, media and the arts to history, politics and economics. The College’s three research professorships will explore highly significant topics of contemporary societies, such as the impact of non-knowledge in complex organisations, the influence of experts and intellectuals on the public sphere, or the potential of digital tools for the formation of pluralistic memory cultures. Offering three junior professorships and collaborative short-term grants, the College also supports excellent early and mid-career researchers in an open-topic mode. Finally, the College offers events and publications reaching out beyond academia, as we are interested in a wider public’s questions and expectations about science and scholarship.

As a creative hub attracting interdisciplinary work, the College addresses current challenges, but it also provides leeway to identify new research topics. It is our aim to generate epistemic and social value for the three universities and their members and we believe that, with joint efforts, we will increase the international visibility and reputation of the Ruhr region in the humanities and social sciences."

(Photo credit: KWI)


The Scientific Board constitutes the scientific governing committee of the College. Its assigned members are Founding Director Professor Julika Griem (at the same time Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, KWI) as well as three representatives of the UA Ruhr universities: Friedrich Balke, Professor for Media Studies at Ruhr University Bochum, Ute Schneider, Professor for Social and Economic History at the University of Duisburg-Essen, and Maximiliane Wilkesmann, Professor for Sociology of Work and Organisation at TU Dortmund University. The members of the Scientific Board define the scientific guidelines for the College and act as its representatives at their institutions.


From autumn 2023 on, the College will be located in the city centre of Essen. The representative premises boast a modern equipment as well as infrastructure for conferences and events. Its close proximity to Essen main station entails excellent connections to regional transportation and long-distance trains, including regular direct connections to Dusseldorf airport.


Scientific Board Members:

Managing Director:


Further Information

The College for Social Sciences and Humanities is part of the Research Alliance Ruhr.