The Fellow Forum for Former Fellows

By Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus

Last year, the Wissenschaftskolleg launched a new program, the Fellow Forum. Its activities will consist of several new workshops each year that originate in suggestions from the former Fellows.

The workshops will be of either one or two days’ duration and will focus on promising, original, and, perhaps, in many cases controversial  questions. We envisage these meetings as being neither strictly specialized disciplinary gatherings nor simply renewing the interactions of Fellows from within one class. On the contrary: the three-fold aim of the program is to extend the intellectual reach of the Kolleg into new subject areas, to expand the network of contacts and acquaintances within the Fellowship as a whole, and to help the Kolleg stay in touch with former Fellows.
In accordance with the character of the Kolleg, these workshops should generally comprise no more than 12 active participants. We encourage the organizing former Fellow to suggest the participation not only of other former Fellows, but also of young, external researchers, who can thereby become acquainted with the Kolleg. These workshops are imaginable also as series of two or three successive events. They will be held at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Up to 8,000 euros are available for each workshop and we envision three to four workshops per year. Fellows who would like to pursue a theme in this framework are invited to make a corresponding suggestion to the Wissenschaftskolleg. Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus (, who coordinates the activities of the Fellow Forum, is available as contact person for questions about submitting and implementing proposals. The suggestions received will be presented to a selection committee, which will meet for consultations twice a year (in late May and late November).

Three workshops in the new format of the Fellow Forum have already been held in the 2012/13 academic year:

•    Dieter Grimm and Christoph König: When Does an Interpretation End? (juridical and philological hermeneutics), 16 November 2012
•    Stephen Greenblatt, Raghavendra Gadagkar, and Meredith Reiches: Hamlet and Succession, 24/25 May 2013
•    Luca Giuliani, Maria Luisa Catoni, Carlo Ginzburg, and Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin: On Irony, 4 July 2013.
These workshops were clearly successful and show the potential of the Fellow Forum format: the workshops are open-ended, not subject to any compulsion to publish, and closed to journalists unless the responsible Fellows explicitly wish such coverage. The Kolleg, with its beautiful rooms, is especially suited for such forms of open but simultaneously concentrated exchanges of ideas. Participants judged even the two single-day events to be extremely productive, as if the limited time and the place had released particular energies.
The May 2013 call to former Fellows for proposals resulted in no less than eight suggestions for Fellow Forum Workshops. The Academic Advisory Board was able to approve three of these proposals, which will be held at the Kolleg next year. They are:

•    When Does an Interpretation End? Part 2 (April 2014)
•    Music and the Public Sphere (April or May 2014)
•    Cultural Variation. A Workshop on Historical  Methodology (November 2014)
There will be a second round of decisions in November 2013. Completed proposals and numerous declarations of interest from former Fellows have already been received, testifying to the program’s potential. In addition to the direct benefits of the discussions themselves, the inclusion of young academics should help the Kolleg identify possible new candidates for Wissenschaftskolleg fellowships. Although the completed workshops and the ones that have been approved have essentially all been in the Humanities, we hope and expect that the program will feature strong entries in the natural and social sciences as well.