Programme Description 2006-2007
Below you will find a description of the academic acitivities of the Max Weber Programme during its first year.
QMR is a series of workshops introducing different methodological approaches in current social science research and is open to the whole EUI community. It is oriented not so much towards the current, advanced, user of a specific methodology, but rather towards a broader range of researchers, from the different fields covered by the Max Weber Programme.
The basic principle underlying QMR is that researchers, both individually and collectively, benefit from learning what is being developed beyond the confines of their own specific research agendas. Specialization should not be a source of defensive ignorance.
Being exposed to, and taking advantage of, multidisciplinary criticism requires that researchers from different disciplines get to know which questions or facts, which methods or theories, which results or open inquiries, are being addressed by colleagues from other disciplines.
The QMR workshops are offered by leading specialists. Most meet twice a week. The first session is used to introduce a methodology (or theory) as it is applied to address a specific question (or fact), showing the potential of the approach. The second session is a brief introduction to the methodology itself. Other workshops take the format of a debate on methodology.
Both sessions differ from the more standard Department seminar or workshop in that they are not aimed at presenting 'the latest paper' of an EUI professor or visiting scholar, but to show what can be achieved with a specific approach or methodology.
Under the heading of The Professional Scholar workshop there are several activities and workshops, open to the EUI community, designed to reflect on the demands of the academic career as a profession. These activities range from those designed to master tools to help fellows in their careers (e.g. web page design, the use of reference software and citation indexes, etc.), to those designed to gain a better understanding of scholarly duties and opportunities (e.g. best practices in publishing and refereeing, funding of research, working of academic job markets, etc.).
Since the Max Weber Programme (and the EUI at large) provides a natural framework to reflect on the situation, problems and perspectives of Research Careers in the Social Sciences in Europe and elsewhere, part of the TPS activities will be designed to develop ‘The EUI Observatory on Research Careers (in the Social Sciences)’.
Improving fellows’ communication skills is one of the aims of the Max Weber Programme. Under the heading Writing, Presenting and Teaching (WPT), there are several programmed activities which take the form of short workshops, courses, feedback sessions, preparation, continuous support, etc., oriented towards achieving this goal, while taking into account that different fellows may have different needs, which requires that at the beginning of the yearly programme such needs be assessed.
In the Autumn term, there is an Academic Writing course (with different levels) specifically oriented towards improving fellows’ written English, since English has become a major language of communication (and e-communication) among international scholars and, in particular, in journals.
In addition fellows have access to a ‘correction and editing’ service which will help them improve their writing and their final drafts for publication. As part of such publication efforts, fellows are also expected to contribute to the different publications of the Max Weber Programme, such as the MWP e-Working Paper Collection and the series Advances in Social Sciences Research.
The Fellows’ initial September presentations of their research agendas not only serves the purpose of introducing a fellow’s work to their colleagues, mentors and, more generally, to the EUI community, but also serves as a first exercise in public presentation.
The seminars are videotaped and followed by feedback sessions in which presentation and public speaking performance are assessed by professional coaches, and the further training needs of the fellows are determined. From such a starting point, the fellow can not only reflect on their personal, recorded, presentation, but will benefit from some specific workshops on presenting and public speaking.
In adddition, fellows also benefit from the mutual help offered by other fellows through presentations they make within the framework of Department seminars and workshops and Self-Organized Fellows (SFO) working groups. All these presentations, although basically oriented towards conveying fellows’ research interests, thus serve as a continuous training ground.
Finally, those fellows actively seeking a job may also rely on this additional support to improve their ‘job market presentations.’
Taking into account that fellows have differing teaching experience, and that teaching methods differ across fields and universities, three types of activities are designed to improve the teaching skills of all the fellows.
First, specific workshops on ‘best practices in higher education teaching’; second, fellows design new courses and/or critically assess existing curricula (an activity followed by appropriate feedback from mentors and fellow colleagues); third, most fellows, on a voluntary basis, are also involved in active teaching during their fellowship, be it by collaborating with their mentors, or other EUI professors, in graduate courses or seminars, or by offering the courses they themselves have designed in other universities.
To this end, the MWP also develops a network of associated universities to which such teaching service may be provided, in its turn therefore further assessing the performance of the fellows. Most of such teaching activity takes place after the first half year of the fellowship.