Programme Description 2007-2008
Below you will find a description of the structure and content of the academic acitivities of the Max Weber Programme, in the academic year 2007-2008
The Max Weber Programme on Academic Practice is oriented to reflect on, and develop, standards of excellence in Academic Practice, with a special focus on Academic Communication: writing, presenting and teaching. It also embraces other professional aspects, such as participation in the academic job market, grant application and management, best practices in publishing, refereeing and mentoring, etc.
The Max Weber Programme on Academic Practice encompasses several activities, developed throughout the academic year. The Academic Practice Workshops are hands-on workshops run by professional scholars. The discipline-based Max Weber Fellow working groups, the Academic Practice Groups, meet regularly throughout the year, with the double objective of improving different aspects of the academic practice of their members through peer review, and helping to define standards of excellence, possibly with the support of scholars and other professionals (e.g. within the Academic Practice Workshops). The Academic Writing Workshops and Writer’s Groups, offer practical advanced training in English academic writing.
The individual terms focus on specific topics related to Academic Practice: First term, participating in the academic job market; Second term, teaching and presenting in Higher Education; Third term, applying for and managing research grants.
On Writing and Publishing
English has become the main language for international academic communication and it is the working language of the Max Weber Programme. Academic Writing courses (with different levels) and individual tutorials are specifically oriented towards improving fellows’ written English with the support of specialised English teachers.
Furthermore, within the obvious time limitations, fellows are also encouraged - and supported through the EUI Language Centre - to improve other languages that may be useful for their academic careers; in particular, many fellows learn or improve their Italian.
In addition, the fellows develop their writing strategies and generate published output in Writers’ Groups. The Writers’ Groups are subgroups of the Academic Practice Groups and are, therefore, organised according to disciplines, working as peer groups, and chaired by one of the participants. The activity of the Writers’ Groups is supported by professional scholars, in English language grammar and usage, and in creative writing, as well as in Academic writing in the different disciplines.
Additionally, fellows have access to an English language correction and editing service which also helps them to improve their written work. 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.
In order to support the research and publication output of the Max Weber Fellows, a series of workshops is organised throughout the year, dedicated to recent developments in the academic publishing market, best practices in publishing and refereeing, the use of citation indexes and so on.
On Participating in the Academic Job Market
The Max Weber Programme actively supports Fellows seeking an academic position. Firstly a number of workshops are organised in which the Fellows discuss and develop their CV, covering letter, biosketch and web page; they also share information and discuss job market strategies in their fields. Secondly, they receive professional feedback on their presentation and interviewing skills. They also receive special financial support for their job search.
The MWP is also a platform for obtaining information about, and reflecting on, the current state of the academic job market. In particular, the Academic Careers Observatory offers a unique resource to Ph.Ds looking for a job in academia and, in general, to people interested in the international comparison of academic careers.
It provides up-to-date information on academic careers in different national markets, covering both legal aspects and, thanks to the active participation of many users, current practices. The Academic Careers Observatory is a resource for the international research and academic community which you may want to visit and, hopefully, contribute to.
Teaching and Presenting in Higher Education
The initial September presentations of the Fellows’ research agendas not only serve the purpose of introducing a fellow’s work to their colleagues, mentors and, more generally, to the EUI community, but also serve as an exercise in public presentation. To this end, 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 assessed.
Fellows also benefit from the mutual help offered by other Fellows through presentations they make over the year within the framework of Department seminars and workshops, and the Fellows’ Workshops. All these presentations, although basically oriented towards conveying the fellows’ research interests, thus serve as a continuous training ground.
The Max Weber Programme also aims at improving and developing standards of excellence in the teaching skills of the fellows, taking into account that fellows arrive with different teaching experience and that teaching methods differ across fields and university systems.
Three types of activity are designed to fulfil this aim.
First, specific Academic Practice Workshops on ‘best practices’ in Higher Education teaching address issues arising from university teaching in different contexts (class size etc.) and methodologies (lecturing, leading groups, e-learning, etc.)
Second, fellows design new courses and/or critically assess existing curricula within the Academic Practice Groups. This process is followed by appropriate feedback from mentors and Max Weber Programme 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 postgraduate courses, seminars or summer schools; or by offering courses within a network of universities collaborating with the Max Weber Programme, such as different American universities with a campus in the Florence area.
The Multidisciplinary Research Workshops (MRW) complement the disciplinary research activities of the fellows. These mostly take place within their corresponding Departments and aim at enhancing mutual understanding across the disciplines present in the programme and at providing a forum for trans-disciplinary debates, which can become a basis for better academic practice and, possibly, interdisciplinary research.
Multidisciplinary criticism requires understanding which questions, methods and inquiries researchers from different disciplines address their themes by. Fellows can benefit greatly both individually and collectively by broadening their view on the social sciences and the humanities beyond their own special field.
To help provide open discussion, Multidisciplinary Research Workshops are grouped into broad themes for the academic year 2007-2008:
On Rationality and Perceptions in Social Sciences and Humanities (Autumn term 2007). Without entering into an open-ended philosophical discussion on rationality, or the foundations of rational or irrational choice, the workshops aim at providing examples from different disciplines on how ‘rationality and perceptions’ are treated and used in current research in the Social Sciences and Humanities; are these treatments as different as often perceived?
Social Sciences and Humanities as Sciences? Multidisciplinary Perspectives (Winter term 2008). These workshops aim to portray different perspectives on the use of development of scientific (quantitative and qualitative) methods and approaches in the Social Sciences and Humanities; within these different disciplines, and in relation to methods and approaches used in natural sciences, is there convergence, divergence, or are both trends present, in current research in the Social Sciences and Humanities?
Understanding Globalization and Inequality (Spring term 2008). The process of globalization is reshaping socio-economic and cultural relations in the 21st century. Therefore, it is a challenge for the Social Sciences and Humanities to provide a better understanding of these transformations, of the welfare, political, legal and cultural gains that may entail, weighed against the possible associated drawbacks and threats (increase in inequality, globalization of conflicts, etc.) and inherent tradeoffs (e.g. between cultural diversity and homogeneity, large empires and small nations or regions, global governance and local accountability, etc.). The workshops will provide examples of multidisciplinary and inter-disciplinary current research in these topics.