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Max Weber Programme for Postdoctoral Studies

Continuity or rupture: Max Weber Fellows host interdisciplinary inquiry

The 18th Annual Max Weber Programme (MWP) June Conference took place at the European University Institute on 12-14 June 2024.

18 June 2024 | Event


Under the theme 'Continuity or rupture: towards an interdisciplinary inquiry', the Max Weber Fellows came together under one topic for their final conference for the academic year.

"This conference has two goals, one is to bring us all together, the current and former Max Weber Fellows. There is a social component," explained Karolina Koziura, Max Weber Fellow in History and co-organiser of the event. "Even more important is designing the call and coming up with the theme of continuity and rupture."

With the topic, Koziura said that she and the co-organisers Noa De La Vega (MWP-ECO), Vanessa Villanueva Collao (MWP-LAW), and Miha Marcenko (MWP-LAW), wanted to respond to the current moment in academia.

"We can clearly see that there is a certain kind of rupture or crisis in academia worldwide, the waves of student protests, inadequate institutional responses, growing tensions between established and emerging theories, and also this general feeling of crisis that is developing," Koziura said. "Just recently, we had the European elections and people are asking what these elections will bring us, what kind of Europe. We have wars developing in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel. Populism, racism, and far-right politics are on the rise globally. We really wanted to respond to this current moment that we are all facing. We wanted to stimulate fellows to think about their own scholarship in these terms and whether they feel a need to redesign their interests to respond to this moment."

The organisers explained that the event idea is to form panels around central concepts and with fellows from different departments, as well as former fellows responding to the main theme. With 18 panels and more than 90 participants, the event clearly demonstrated the unique interdisciplinary nature of the MWP.

"The interdisciplinarity of the panels and of the Max Weber Programme is really special," said Noa De La Vega, Max Weber Fellow in Economics, and co-organiser of the event. "It is an opportunity to exchange ideas between disciplines in a way that when you are only in one department you are not exposed to. In one of the panels I was attending, it was really interesting to see different angles of different disciplines. Even researchers who evolve in the same area or with the same ideas, are somehow interpreted in different ways. We are accomplishing this exchange, crossing the borders of disciplines."

"For example, we would have a panel on political polarisation and we would want to see how economists, historians, political scientists, and sociologists respond to the theme and if they can find a common language," explained Koziura. "Very often we are closed in disciplinary walls and we think we can only speak to our peers in our disciplines. This is a moment when we can open up and see what is this conceptual vocabulary that we can all work with."

Reflecting on the richness of the topic and of the panels, Juho Härkönen, Dean of Postdoctoral Studies and MWP Director, said, "The Max Weber Programme June Conference celebrates its 18th birthday. Its coming of age is clearly visible in the high quality of the presentations of the conference, which brings together Max Weber Fellows and alumni and allows fruitful academic exchange and networking between different Max Weber Programme generations."

In addition to current fellows, the event hosted 25 MWP former fellows, offering a safe space of exchange between the current and former fellows, as well as an opportunity for current fellow to learn from their predecessors.

"We had a very interesting roundtable with the alumni fellows who came from all over the world and who were very kind to share their experiences and how they built their careers after the fellowship," said Koziura. "For many Max Weber Fellows who are leaving this year, it was a touching moment."

"One of my thoughts was, 'what progress'," said De La Vega. "In September, we did a short presentation about our research. At that time, the gap between the disciplines was large, and in the absence of a common language, some of the presentations were not clear. In this event, the gap between the disciplines has become smaller.  I saw that I could express my research ideas in a way that is not only approachable to economists."

"One of the accomplishments is really growing as a community. We started in September as strangers," added Koziura. "We are now ending in this very nice, collegial setting. We want to talk each other. There is a very positive spirit and vibe in this conference. This is a serious accomplishment: us as a community and how we grew together."

During the 2023-2024 academic year, the Max Weber Programme admitted 67 fellows. They represent 29 nationalities from around the world.

The Max Weber Programme (MWP) is the largest international postdoctoral programme in the social sciences and humanities in Europe. It is known for pioneering the idea of a taught postdoctoral programme in the social and historical sciences – a distinct model that combines support for research with teaching, academic communication, and other career development skills. It fosters multidisciplinary research collaboration across departments and between established and early career researchers within the EUI.

Last update: 19 June 2024

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