Academic Institutions

BAMBERG GRADUATE SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES

RESEARCH EXHIBITION ▼

IN ESSENCE. PERSONALITIES OF RESEARCH.

A SERIES OF NINE PORTRAITS OF DOCTORAL STUDENTS
WITH AN INSIGHT INTO THE PROCESS OF THEIR RESEARCH

 

___ About the exhibition

  
   The Graduate School wants to provide a framework for research realization and furthermore aims to promote the works and the researchers themselves. To showcase their work, we developed the concept of a research exhibition where the individually designed research portfolios are featured next to the portraits. The interplay between academic work and photography creates a new perception by reflecting the research itself and the researcher behind it. This project allows the audience to look at the work from a different angle. Showcasing the research also means you, as the audience, have the opportunity to experience its trajectory and the researcher‘s thoughts behind it. This exhibition further reveals the privilege to present the Graduate School in the variety of its facettes - to convey who we are, what we do and what we stand for. It promotes interdisciplinary exchange and strengthens the awareness of the Graduate School within the University, academia and scientific exchange in general. 

   The inaugural display of the exhibition took place during the 38th Congress of the German Sociological Association (GSA) from 26th to 30th of September 2016 in Bamberg. Thereafter it was open to the public until 10th of October 2017. From March till September 2017 the exhibition was invited to a second showing at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories in Bamberg. The exhibition was on display for the third time for the festivities of the "Deutschlandstipendienfeier" from 26 October to 17 November 2017 at the University of Bamberg.

 

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___ Nine portraits and interviews

  
   The researchers’ portrait consists of two parts: a large format photograph and research showcase, both printed on brushed aluminium. The photograph is a portrait, shot in black and white, during individual photoshoots. Each participant had his or her own appointment. Simultaneously, they had to think about their research showcase. We were aiming for an ‘experimental poster’. There were no rules (almost). We were on a quest for initial thoughts, concepts or results that capture the idea behind their research in order to push the boundaries of presenting research work. They had to think about: What is the essence of your research? What makes it special to you? How can it be presented? And we assured them: Don’t worry - we’ll handle the layout. Individual appointments were made in August and September 2016 to shoot the portraits and to discuss the concept of each research portfolio. Additionally we asked the portrayed doctoral reserachers three questions to grasp their personalities. Their answers where printed on large textile banners and are also displayed at the exhibition.

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Yi-Jhen Wu

Field: Educational Psychology

Country: Taiwan

Dissertation Project: The Application of  Latent Class Analysis on Western and Eastern Students’ Math Performance in the 2012 PISA

Yi-Jhen's website

 


INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   YJ.W. When I do research, I feel that I am not bounded by anyone or anything. I can think of any topic related to education in which I am interested. While enjoying freedom, I have to figure out something independently. Although working independently is not easy, once I figure it out, knowledge belongs to me, and no one can take it from me. Figuring something out is challenging, yet it makes me enjoy it. Therefore, I think happiness in research is that I have a lot of freedom to do my own work, keep gaining new knowledge and always face new challenges.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   YJ.W. Probably collecting data across countries. Collecting data across countries was not easy but rather complicated. However, nowadays, it is more simple as there is a lot of communication and collaboration across cultures and countries. This allows me to have more opportunities to access diverse information and insights.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   YJ.W. Poverty! Poverty forces a lot of children to fall short of the peers who come from affluent families. Nowadays, children of affluent families have more resources to learn than children of families from lower classes. Therefore, the rich are growing richer, and the poor are growing poorer. Assessment could help children to get rid of poverty. Through an assessment, teachers, parents, and schools know the weakness children have, so that they can come up with solutions that improve children's performance. Therefore, creating a fair assessment is the motive to make me move fast in order to help children get rid of poverty.

 

SHOWCASE

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Henning Bergmann

Field: Political Science

Country: Germany

Dissertation Project: The Dynamics of Government Terminations in Parliamentary Democracies: Towards a Better Theoretical and Empirical Understanding of the Causes of Early Cabinet Breakdowns

Henning's website.

 


INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   H.B. A high degree of autonomy combined with an unlimited work contract.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   H.B. At some point I realized that my initial proposal was too narrow to meet my expectations. Additionally, I had to deal with data problems concerning my main independent variables.
Thus, I reframed my project and decided to write a paper-based dissertation. This allows me to investigate coalition dynamics in a wider perspective.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   H.B. The ongoing fragmentation of societies into so-called winners and losers of processes such as globalization and social modernization has implications for my research on (coalition) governments. In combination with developments such as dealignment and individualization, party systems become more diverse and less stable. Consequently, new government types are formed, such as the three-party-governments in Saxony-Anhalt and Berlin after the 2016 state elections.

 

SHOWCASE

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Isabel Winnwa

Field: Political Science, European Politics

Country: Germany

Dissertation Project: The Impact of Agency in EU Policy-Making: Actor Strategies in Legislative Decision-Making Processes

Isabel's website

 


INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   I.W. Constantly finding new interesting questions to think about. Challenging my own paradigms and pre-conceived beliefs about my topic and research area and discovering that new insights actually make thinking about my project so much more exciting. Solving a problem in a creative way after talking it through with colleagues and mentors. Discussing all kinds of topics with colleagues in and outside of the grad school. Realizing how much I've evolved and grown as a researcher and as a person when looking back on the past two years. Hearing about topics in political science and other fields of social sciences I'm not at all familiar with through my colleagues and relishing in the experience of learning something new almost every day.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   I.W. Pushing my own boundaries has actually had the greatest impact on my research. I have been educated in a particular way, basically been taught a certain way of thinking and have stuck to it. I approached my dissertation project with this knowledge and these preconceived beliefs, only to realize that I can actually go much further by questioning them, even those I considered unchangeable. The best example would probably be the idea that people are rational and therefore act rationally, in life and in politics. In reality, they don't. Questioning this concept helped me approach my topic differently and made me focus on observing and explaining how people actually behave, instead of just trying to validate some assumptions.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   I.W. It's a difficult topic to approach, but I would probably say "identity", more in the sense of national identity than personal identity. It’s highly controversial now, especially in Germany, in the context of the migration and refugee crisis. I have observed that in Germany, as well as in other European states, people are reverting back to ideas and concepts I would have thought, or rather hoped, to be obsolete by now. There are movements like PEGIDA or political parties like the AfD, where people group together and racialize the concept of identity, emphasize in-group out-group divisions between "real Germans" and "foreigners". It really pains me that quite a few Germans once again somehow get the idea that we are a superior culture and ethnicity. It polarizes and divides the society, but actually very little is done about it.

I try getting personally involved, discussing with those people, trying to argue for a non-violent and conciliatory approach to the challenges we're facing, especially the migration and integration challenge. It's not very successful, I must say. I'm getting increasingly angry at people's unwillingness to question their stereotypes and prejudices about foreigners. But I'm also very disappointed in the lazy attitude of those Germans who actually are liberal and tolerant etc., but just can't be bothered to engage in debates with people holding these extremist views or take action to confront these hate movements. I mean, should we, young people, academics, liberal-minded citizens, just sit back and watch while others monopolize the concept of identity and turn it into something ugly and hateful? Are we mainly social scientists and therefore observers, or young citizens and therefore in charge of shaping the society we want to live in?

 

SHOWCASE


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Ashenafi Kassahun Edossa

Field: Psychology

Country: Ethiopia

Dissertation Project: Children's Development of Self-Regulation and its Effects on Academic Achievement

Ashenafi's website.



INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   A.E. Happiness in the process of research varies from phase to phase. At the beginning, happiness and excitement starts when you find new and interesting questions that fit to your academic as well as personal interest. Accomplishing the tasks in the consecutive phase of the research is a source of happiness. Most importantly, you find happiness when you overcome the challenges you face in the process of your research and you finally see the impact it has on the intended target group.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   A.E. Well, the processes of doing research has never been a straight line. As research in social science tries to solve complex phenomena scientifically, the research itself follows some complex paths. For instance, at the beginning, my dissertation project was planned to be entirely conducted using the NEPS data. Some aspects of the variables were not available in the dataset. After exploring the dataset, I was on the verge of changing my topic. However, suddenly an idea of combining projects from different datasets popped up in my mind, and this idea was supported by my supervisor. The paper presented in this showcase wouldn’t have become a reality, hadn't we solved the problem with this alternative. This challenge helped me gather experience with multiple datasets and contexts.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   A.E. Children and youths are challenged with both opportunities - the ever swiftly growing information technology - and the danger of man-made disasters such as war and poverty. This is pushing many accompanied and unaccompanied children to the industrialised world. The development of children under these difficult circumstances and in the context of the era of information technology moves me most. This phenomenon needs to be investigated scientifically as it requires children's resilience and self-regulatory skills.

 

SHOWCASE

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Jasper Dag Tjaden

Field: Sociology

Country: Germany

Dissertation Project: Migrants' Educational Choices - Evidence from Upper Secondary Education in Germany and Switzerland

Jasper's website

 


INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   J.D.T. At first sight, these two things have little to do with each other. Research is not about happiness unless you are researching satisfaction as your topic of interest.
Research is about advancing our knowledge about a puzzle. Solving the puzzle has little to do with fun. However, the process of conducting research and competing it can often lead to personal happiness of the researchers involved. Discovering interesting results, measuring something in novel ways, getting a paper published, receiving helpful comments at a conference. All these experiences are happiness-inducing.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   J.D.T. Ideally, research always pushes the boundaries because, in the end, you are conducting your research to unfold something new, something beyond previous boundaries of thinking or evidence. The process of conducting research pushes the researcher to his or her own boundaries at times.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   J.D.T. For me that is clear. Migration and its consequences for receiving societies, the migrant and sending countries. This issue will surely stay on the political agenda for the rest of my life. As we are living in a more globalized world, we actually know very little about how to shape migration and its related processes in a way to benefit all. This is where I want to make a contribution in the future.

 

SHOWCASE

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Saba Mehran (nee Hanif)

Field: Psychology

Country: Pakistan

Dissertation Project: Distal and Proximal Indicators of Teacher Effectiveness as Predictors of Students’ Mathematics Competence in Germany (Grade 5-7)

Saba's website.

 


INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   S.H. I would be very happy if my research could contribute in giving a positive direction to society and would result in social cohesion and the wellbeing of the masses. My happiness in research lies in changing society through education to make it a better place to live.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   S.H. I believe the biggest decision of leaving my country for doing doctoral studies in a totally different one had the most significant effects not only on my current research but also on my whole research career.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   S.H. Terrorism. The terrorism my country is facing presently has moved me the most, particularly the terrorism that is attacking education and minorities in Pakistan. The recent mass terrorism incidents have shaken me inside and I was very saddened by them. Then I decided to research about it, to understand where this intolerance and extremism is coming from because this is how we can help society as researchers.

 

SHOWCASE

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Tobias Rausch

Field: Educational Research

Country: Germany

Dissertation Project: Formation of Teacher Judgements on Student Achievement

Tobias' website

 


INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   T.R. I find happiness in research when I have the opportunity to share my thoughts, to discuss them with others and to get and also offer perspectives from other fields of research. Furthermore, happiness arises when I have the feeling of being part of a larger story. It is appealing to me as a young researcher to stand on the shoulders of all the giants that added to the current body of research for decades and centuries. I am able to add my small contributions to this body of research, so that I might be the one who has a slightly wider look on a topic and to push the boundaries of our field.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   T.R. Every moment of "Eureka" in my research activities – and there were quite a few so far– was a small step forward on my way of pushing the boundaries towards a greater understanding of the topics I am working on. It can happen anywhere and anytime: in the shower, in the mountains, during discussions with inspiring people, …

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   T.R. The increasing complexity of our world is accompanied with a rise of simple and short, yet not always appropriate answers. How can we deal with that? How do we teach next generations to cope with that complexity and how do we find the right answers to this challenge?

 

SHOWCASE

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Agata Maria Kraj

Field: Political Science/ Political Psychology

Country: Poland

Dissertation Project: Structural and Psychological Determinants of Women's Success in Elective Office

Agata's website.

 


INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   A.M.K. I'm not sure I found it yet. It's a crash course in humility and letting go of one's ego, which makes for a bumpy ride. Now that I think about it, though, I suppose I feel happiness in research when I am able to exchange ideas freely, across national, cultural and institutional boundaries, allowing me to experience different ways of perceiving the world and, ultimately, building bridges over those differences. Not to mention, being able to read books for a living is probably the coolest job you can imagine – like being a librarian, but with less dust to deal with and more traveling involved.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   A.M.K. My research is about pushing boundaries, about escaping preconceptions and building new ways of being, as individuals and as societies. Working in academia also forces me to push my personal boundaries, all the time. As I said, it's an exercise in becoming more open, about learning how to speak up and persevere, about responding to criticism with humility and gratitude. It's also about paving a way for yourself in an industry of sorts, which is still very much a men's game, and based on rather rigid hierarchies in many aspects. And the networking – so much networking. Which, by the way, makes for a grim realization that oftentimes, it's not one's merit and aptitude that allow one to succeed in academia. It's also very much about knowing the right people who can propel you forward.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   A.M.K. Inequalities, definitely. The continued and systematic discrimination of certain groups across modern societies. The growing animosity towards what is unknown and unfamiliar, manifesting itself, for instance, in hatred towards immigrants or anyone not complying with some arbitrary standards (which is being fueled and abused by some political actors, too, these days).
While some cultural differences make communication between groups more challenging, underneath it all, on the most basic, human level, we all have similar needs and aspirations. That's what we should be focusing on – similarities between us, not differences and what divides us.

 

SHOWCASE

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Melanie Olczyk

Field: Sociology

Country: Germany

Dissertation Project: Ethnic Embeddedness and the Educational Success of Immigrants and their Descendants

Melanie's website.



INTERVIEW

   What ist your idea of happiness in research?

   M.O. To work hard, get substantial results with relevance for society and an inspiring, respectful exchange about these results.

   In which situations has pushing the boudaries had a significant effect on your research?

   M.O. I consider – at least – three different research disciplines in my thesis, namely integration theory as well as school and neighborhood research. The challenge was to not separately consider them, rather to find similarities and differences. This integrative approach was absolutely pushing the boundaries for me.

   Which current issue that society is facing moves you the most?

   M.O. The split of society with respect to migration and integration of refugees and foreigners. The kind of very emotional - partly hateful and uninformed - discussions of these challenges in society.

 

SHOWCASE

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EXHIBITION CREDITS:

Concept, Photograpy, Design and Layout of the Showcases: Katrin Bernsdorff
Interviews: Theresa Schmitz
Print: Hahn Media and Hausdruckerei University of Bamberg
Exhibit partners: German Sociological Association (GSA), Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories
Funding: DFG (German Research Foundation)

 

 

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