College of Fellows

Fellow in Focus

Jeden Monat stellen wir hier einzelne Fellows vor, die am College of Fellows aktiv sind.

Im Februar 2024 stellen wir zwei Fellows in Focus vor: Stefan Floris und Riccardo Marin.  
Beide stellen am 7. Februar 2024 im Rahmen der Humboldt Lecture Series ihre Forschungsarbeiten vor.

Februar 2024: Riccardo Marin

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences. 
I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Tuebingen AI Center as part of the Real Virtual Humans Group. Previously. I got my Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2021 from the University of Verona, and I was a postdoctoral researcher at Sapienza University of Rome. My stay in Tuebingen has been supported by the Humboldt Foundation with a Research Fellowship, and now by the European Union with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship. My activities involve the study of 3D Geometry, Computer Vision, and Artificial Intelligence, with applications to 3D Humans.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
3D data has become more and more available in the last few years, thanks to fast technological development. Customer mobile phones are nowadays equipped with depth sensors and multiple cameras, and advancements in Artificial Intelligence let us to recover 3D geometry even from videos, or a set of photos. Developing methods to derive analogies in this abundance of 3D data coming from disparate sources, represents a fundamental challenge. It enables discovering and studying recurrent patterns, transferring properties, and deriving statistical models of the surrounding world. My research focuses on finding such connections and recovering dense point-to-point correspondences between 3D surfaces (e.g., given any point on the skin of a 3D human model, I could seek the corresponding point on a canonical "mannequin").

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
Deriving relations in our 3D world is something that we do inherently; formalizing and empowering such capability with computational resources has uncountable applications. Consider the possibility of having a 3D replica of our body (often called a Digital Twin). Taking anthropometric measures or comparing our geometry with other acquisitions could help doctors plan health treatments or surgeries. 3D data are crucial for virtual reality, which is widely adopted in many industries including entertainment and manufacturing. Finding correspondences lets us understand the surroundings, like the objects with which we interact, and bring them into simulated environments. 

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
My research is naturally interdisciplinary, and to me is one of the most exciting things in my work. Studying geometry and humans requires the consideration of many domains: mathematics, physics, anatomy, but often also cultural and behavioral aspects. Such connections with different fields are fundamental not only for applications but also for delivering methods that are useful in the real world. Different domains also help us infuse insights and intuitions into algorithms, making them work better. Institutions like CoF play a crucial role in fostering such exchange, connecting scholars, and creating an inspiring environment.

Februar 2024: Stefano Floris

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences. 
I am an archaeologist specializing in Phoenician and Punic Studies. Since June 2022, I have held the position of an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Biblical Archaeology (BAI) at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
My research addresses the question of how studying burial customs (with a focus on crematory practices) between the Levant and the central Mediterranean can contribute not only to a better understanding of Phoenician religious beliefs and eschatology but also to our knowledge of Phoenician society and history across the Mediterranean.
I am particularly intrigued by the Phoenicians’ remarkable capacity to develop complex and original artistic languages – which are often mysterious and cryptic for modern critics – and include elements drawn from encounters and exchanges with other cultures. This phenomenon is part of their expansion in the Mediterranean, where they established a plurisecular system of connections that stretched from their homeland on the Syro-Palestinian coast to the Atlantic coasts of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
I firmly believe that a thorough understanding of the past offers a broader historical perspective, serving as a crucial tool for gaining profound insights into present-day challenges. Take, for instance, the examination of the role played by the introduction of religious practices, funerary customs, and the formulation of new expressive languages in shaping the identity of communities that emerged after the displacement of Phoenician groups from their homeland to other Mediterranean regions already inhabited by indigenous peoples.
This historical exploration not only provides valuable insights into the dynamics of ancient societies but also prompts reflection on current social, cultural, economic, and political challenges. By delving into the past, we can better grasp the complexities of phenomena like mobility and international migration, which significantly impact the Mediterranean basin and extend far beyond its borders in the contemporary globalized world.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
Archaeological research, by its very nature, transcends the barriers of modern nations and can no longer disregard cooperation with other disciplines, as underscored by the successful work of the Institute for Archaeological Sciences (INA). The College of Fellows presents great opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation, fostering cross-culturally engaged research collaborations and providing visibility and crucial networking opportunities for international researchers.

Januar 2024: Smith Babiaka

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences. 
Smith B. Babiaka is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science,  University of Buea (Cameroon), where he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2019. He has been granted several awards and honors from ARISE Intra-ACP, AGNES, ACS etc  to support his research. He holds several editorial board appointments and is a reviewer of manuscripts from several reputed  journals. Since 2021, he is a Georg Forster Alexander von Humboldt and Georg Forster-Bayer Research Fellow, at the University of Tübingen, Germany where he is searching for novel microbial natural products with interesting antibacterial activity.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
My research is intended to fight antimicrobial resistance through the discovery of nature-inspired antimicrobial agents  with a new mechanism of actions from nature. The discovery of penicillin from the filamentous fungus, Penicillium notatum, by Fleming in 1929, and the observation of the broad therapeutic use of this agent in the 1940s has motivated us to revisit nature as a source of novel antimicrobial agents.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
Over the past decade, antimicrobial resistance continues to be a public threat on a global scale. It has increased the global infectious disease burden and put a greater strain on health systems. Antimicrobial resistance  is currently responsible for over 700,000 deaths annually around the world. The trend has been predicted to exponentially rise to above 10 million deaths annually by 2050, with an estimated economic cost of $100 trillion worldwide. The discovery of new antimicrobial agents would promote good health and well being.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
With the emergence of artificial intelligence, future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university would be very flexible and interesting. Institutions like College of Fellows would be very beneficial to create a link for  international collaborations and enduring networks to visiting fellows. 

Januar 2024: Asia Kalinichenko

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tübingen in one or two sentences.
I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, supported by a fellowship from PSI Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Additionally, I hold the position of Associate Professor at the Department of Foodstuff Expertise at the National University of Food Technology (NUFT) in Kyiv, Ukraine.
My research interest focuses on gas sensors and their application for food analysis, food chemistry, data mining and deep machine learning in chemistry.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
The research aims to develop alternatives to standard physicochemical methods for analyzing food products, with a focus on edible oils in this project. This will allow to perform more effective monitoring of edible oil quality and safety at the all stages of the entire food supply chain. The implementation of new sensor-based methods will facilitate fast and efficient analyses without the need for chemical reagents and solvents. Historically, analytical chemistry has been constrained by the lack of progress in data science. However, advancements in today's deep machine learning algorithms, incorporating elements of artificial intelligence (AI), offer the potential to enhance the sensitivity and selectivity of methods based on cross-selective chemical sensors. The simplicity and affordability of these innovative methods, based on micro gas sensors, make them suitable for application in various settings, including small enterprises, large mills, and regulatory authority labs.
I am fascinated about tackling applied problems and addressing industry needs, with a focus on delivering tangible results in the near future. I hold the belief that the contemporary speeds and production volumes necessitate a reconsideration of traditional analytical chemistry approaches for food analysis.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
The research project holds significant social relevance in several key areas: ensuring the quality and safety of edible oils is paramount for public health, adaptation to modern production speeds; environmental impact of reducing the reliance on chemical reagents and solvents; accessibility and affordability, and the practical application of solutions to industry challenges as well as promoting innovation in the food industry. By addressing these aspects, the research contributes to building a safer, more sustainable, and technologically advanced food ecosystem.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
The project inherently involves multidisciplinary aspects, necessitating collaboration between the academic community and industry. This particular project converges at the intersection of analytical and food chemistry, physical chemistry, engineering, and information technology. The application of the developed methods and approaches transcends geographical boundaries, adapting to the global industry's evolving needs.
The College of Fellows provides an opportunity for potential collaborations, along with the critical analysis of results, facilitating the exchange of ideas.

Dezember 2023: Raluca Rădulescu

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tübingen in one or two sentences.
I am a professor of German Intercultural Literature at the University of Bucharest, Romania and performed here the last months of my research related to my Humboldt fellowship. My research interests focus on intercultural literature, migrant literature, postcolonial studies, modernist literature.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
The current project deals with colonial sea voyages in the German literature from the 19th century until the present. The aim was to examine in less known texts of canonical authors the connection between colonization and seafaring in the German history and literature of the period, along with the literary enactment of these phenomena as aesthetic experiences. At stake was to show the role played by the maritime voyages and the sea as a cultural space within the process of colonization in questioning eurocentrism, colonial desire and binary constructions and bridging difference. The texts state, against the public discourses,  a poetic and a policy of similarity, by promoting not as much the difference but the cultural exchange and liquifying borders.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
My research deals with a nowadays extremely relevant topic in the context of decolonization discourses. The study tries to show how literary texts of canonical authors reflect not only historical precolonial fantasies and desire, but also precolonial, colonial and postcolonial scepticism. The texts recapitulate contemporary colonial affirmation in historic and political discourses of their time along with the habitual stereotypes, but finally delegitimate them by showing collapsing or shipwrecking sea voyages as failed colonial projects. There are also interesting connections between migration and (post)colonialism to be followed diachronically, which might shed light upon current phenomena and developments.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
The CIVIS course “Refugees, exiles, migrants in German and comparative Literature”, now on its 3rd year, is an example of successful partnership with the University of Tübingen (Prof. Dr. Dorothee Kimmich). Some PhD candidates of mine also enjoyed via CIVIS research stays in Tübingen. I am sure that the strongly interdisciplinary component of the current projects will encourage future cooperations also with the College of Fellows.

Dezember 2023: Tetjana Midjana

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tübingen in one or two sentences.
I am a fellow of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative at the Rhetoric Institute of the University of Tuebingen and I am currently working on the research project "Rhetoric of War Speeches" under the supervision of Prof. J. Knape. From 1999 to 2003 I was a DAAD scholar and worked on my PhD thesis on the topic "Periphrasis", which I defended in 2004. My scientific advisor was Prof. J. Knape.
After the defense of the dissertation our cooperation with the Institute of Rhetoric and in particular with Prof. J. Knape continued as I have repeatedly been a DAAD scholar and have been engaged in a comparative study of Ukrainian and German election speeches.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
There is no longer any doubt that the current war against Ukraine is not only a war of annihilation, but also an information war. In order to resist Russian propaganda terror, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Ukrainians daily and often the parliaments and other peoples with videos of appeal in order to strengthen the cohesion of the whole world against the aggressor. Zelensky's wartime speeches seem to be characterized by a highly persuasive character, because they have a great media impact. Here is the question: What makes these speeches so effective? However, the same public interest applies to the war speeches of Russian President Vladimir Putin, because they are the speeches of the aggressor. This cruel attack by Russia on my Motherland was the motivation to start researching the speech phenomena of current war rhetoric on both sides. The aim is to conduct a fundamental scientific investigation of the text type "war speech". It aims at testing two working hypotheses: 
1. The presidential speeches concerning war against Ukraine in 2022 are about the speech type "war speech", which takes on a very special character in the historical situation of 2022. 
2. The Russian presidential speeches are to be specified as offensive speeches and the Ukrainian speeches as defensive ones. Or is it perhaps possible to work out a new type of speech? Methodologically, the phenomena are to be analysed rhetorically and textually on a linguistic level.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
It is hard to believe, but the 21st century is a period of wars, so my research is unfortunately still relevant today, as it tries to explore the role of the "word" in these tragic events, how politicians use the "word" as a tool on the one hand to justify the war, as the President of Russia does, or as a means of strengthening the cohesion of the Ukrainian people and the whole world in the fight against the aggressor, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky does.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
Is war in the 21st century different, or perhaps the same strategies are used as in the 20th century, or before? War is a difficult challenge not only for society, but also for scholars, including political scientists, historians, sociologists, lawyers, and others, who deal with war issues in their field, using their research tools, which is, in my opinion, an opportunity for interdisciplinary and international cooperation within the framework of this project, the purpose of which is primarily to prevent war. I see the College of Fellows as a manager in this project, which offers a podium to present the results of research and discuss this issue, and perhaps to create an international interdisciplinary project that would support and strengthen the "peace formula" that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is talking about in order to prevent the spread of evil and new human suffering. Society and politicians, as its representatives determine our future, but it is science that offers the knowledge to create strategies for this development.

November 2023: Keyvan Allahyari

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tübingen in one or two sentences.
I am a Postdoctoral Humboldt Fellow jointly hosted at the Centre for Global South Studies at the University of Tübingen, and the department of English and American Studies at the University of Potsdam. My Humboldt fellowship is my second research period at Tübingen. I first came here as a Teach@Tübingen Fellow (2021-2022). Prior to coming to Tübingen, I taught in the English and Theatre Studies program at the University of Melbourne, where I completed my PhD in 2019. 

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
I am interested in how contemporary literature engages with borders and water as technological, material, environmental and imaginative formations on a global scale. My question is what literature, as cultural product and system, tells us about the contemporary border regimes and the political psychology that they generate and sustain across various geographies. 

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
The contemporary times are shaped by an anxiety about borders on a large spectrum of political membership. These enviro-political formations will feature even more prominently in the years to come. Whether the political subject is a ‘core’ citizen of a Global North country, or a refugee from the Global South, more people will have to navigate borders and bordering technologies, as we are facing the prospect of greater global mobility in the era of climate change. My research shows that global literary cultures mediate and are mediated by the pervasiveness of border regimes. This means that literary works and the systems of production and distribution of literary cultures can provide ways of better understanding the assumptions that shape the contemporary political anxiety about our futures and the imaginaries that support a view of a future defined by even harsher bordering practices. 

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
I think universities can play a stronger role in bridging the gap between academic knowledge-production and the civic space in a variety of disciplines, and in relation to many pressing social and environmental issues. To achieve this, academics will have to face two challenges: interdisciplinarity and communicability. In my area, for example, there is still a lot of room to cross the disciplinary divide between literary studies and other disciplines in the humanities and beyond, in the hope that we can better tackle questions about life under climate change. It is also key that we come up with ways of communicating research to the public outside of the conventional academic circles and the classroom. Effective public engagement is, of course, easier said than done. But perhaps more than anything else, it requires a commitment to reaching wider communities, stakeholders and policymakers through innovative methods that break away from disciplinary conventions, as well as engaging pathways to research dissemination. 

I think the College of Fellows is already doing a great job of bringing scholars together, and facilitating a broader interdisciplinary conversation among the senior and junior researchers, invited speakers and scholars at Tübingen. 

November 2023: Laurie Atkinson

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tübingen in one or two sentences.
I arrived in Tübingen in April 2022 to begin a Teach@Tübingen Fellowship at the English Department. In December, I started a Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, also in Tübingen, where I work on early English literary print.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
My current research shows how early sixteenth-century writers and printers convinced an expanding and diversifying readership of the value of new literary texts in English, by harnessing the collaborative energy which characterised literary production. It demonstrates the rhetorical and imaginative potential of what I call ‘co-creativity’, as evidenced by dedications, prefatory epistles, and other printed paratexts, which appear at the front, back, and in the margins of early modern printed books. It reveals an alternative to individual authorship as the prevailing paradigm for textual production in this period, which is a surprise, I think, to many readers today (it was to me!) but is amply witnessed by the texts themselves and the paratexts that frame them.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
Besides reframing our understanding of early sixteenth-century writing and opening up critical approaches to a new corpus of English literature, the findings of my research resonate with issues in our own time. An understanding of textual production that is premised on co-creativity rather than individual authorship can suggest insights and historical precedents for the multi-authored or AI generated, response driven, and increasingly unattributable texts of the twenty-first century media revolution. We have much to learn from sixteenth-century paratexts!

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
I have greatly benefited from the partnership between the University of Tübingen and Durham University as members of the Matariki Network. I would like to see this partnership, and those with other members of the network, further developed through exchange and fellowship programmes. The College of Fellows has a role to play in this, by making connections with similar institutions at partner universities. It is already an important part of the rich academic community in Tübingen, making this a place where researchers want to stay!

Oktober 2023: Abiodun Afolabi

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen.
Before coming to Tübingen, I held a faculty position at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in 2012. I bagged my M.A. degree in Philosophy at the University of Lagos in 2015 and moved on to complete my PhD at the Department of Philosophy, Rhodes University, South Africa, in 2021. During my PhD research, I was one of the recipients of the prestigious doctoral scholarship from the Alan Gray Center for Leadership Ethics, Rhodes University, from 2019 – 2021. I am also a research fellow at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I have been following the activities of the College Fellows for some months prior to my application.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
Recently, environmental issues have been a recurrent theme in global research. For the past six years, I have been keenly interested in environmental issues with a specific focus on climate change, especially its intersections with climate justice and environmental sustainability. Climate change might be a global issue, but the dimension of its impact is never the same everywhere. My research aims to explore insights into the cultural dimension of climate change and how this can be addressed in the pursuit of environmental justice and environmental sustainability. In Tubingen, I am working on fresh insights from phenomenology to address the unnerving assumptions in determining how the impacts of environmental despoliation on cultural resources should be plausibly addressed in environmental ethics. The fascinating thing about my research is that it gives me the opportunity to develop an understanding of environmental injustice in ways that project the experience and voice of marginalized people and how best it can be treated in future environmental treaties. This is borne out of my desire to foster a space for vulnerable people to be seen, heard, held, and uplifted on global environmental issues.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research. We often think the solution to the environmental crisis lies in how much of its science we can understand. We miss the point if we fail to understand the deeper dimension of the problem. The cultural lifeworld is significant in addressing environmental problems because it consists of values and significance that may not be visible from a scientific lens. My research expands the range of significant cultural values (for humans and non-humans) that should be considered in environmental practice and policy. The implication of this is that the cultural dimension of environmental problems that are usually obscured and overlooked is brought to light, thereby jolting policymakers to approach environmental problems and solutions from a broader perspective.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
There is still so much to be known about humans and the world we inhabit, and a straitjacketed disciplinary focus and methodologies might shrink our opportunities to explore this knowledge. Universities need more collaboration, particularly with knowledge workers in informal settings like indigenous people. That’s why adopting multi-disciplinary approaches, requiring engagement with scholars from diverse backgrounds, is critical to future research. The College of Fellows has been daring and forthright in its objective to encourage intercultural studies. By bringing on board scholars from diverse backgrounds to engage in social-impacting research, this research hub has shown that complex ideas can be cross-fertilized through rich intercultural engagement. The series of research activities that are weaved into talks, colloquiums and workshops has given a platform to speakers to share their ideas in ways that are appealing to a wider audience, exemplifying the need to blend town and gown in conversation.  

September 2023: Cristóbal Pagán Cánovas

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen.
I was a Humboldt Fellow at the Department of Quantitative Linguistics, hosted by Professor Harald Baayen, for various periods 2019-2022, and returned for a short visit in August 2023 to further our collaboration. My work benefits from Professor's Baayen work on quantitative linguistics to develop novel methods for the analysis of multimodal communication, especially the interaction between gesture, speech, and language.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
The main question I ask is whether words or phrases may have systematic relations with patterns in gesture, prosody, gaze, and other aspects of co-speech behavior. The idea that I find fascinating is that what we call meaning may be enacted with our whole body, rather than merely encoded in sequences of symbols. Gathering and analyzing data for this type of research requires developing novel computational resources and statistical methods, all through substantial international co-operation. The feeling of working at the borders and treading unexplored territory is quite addictive and fascinating too.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research. 
Improving our understanding of the basis of human communication and cognition has practically illimited potential for social impact. Research on multimodal behavior could make us rethink what words, phrases, or any other linguistic structures are, how they are acquired, how they allow for the construction of meaning and social interaction, how they give access to information. Language learning, educational technologies, human-machine interfaces, automatic evaluation of communicative behavior, virtual human-like agents or avatars, or better speech and language models are some of the immediate applications of research into multimodal communication.


4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
The University of Tübingen, also bringing in the neighboring Max Planck Institutes and the Cyber Valley, has great potential for integrating the Humanities and the Sciences, including machine learning and AI, into international co-operation projects at the EU level or beyond. For example, I am coordinating projects for advanced research, graduate degrees, and online resources in multimodal data science, in which I hope to include collaborations with Tübingen. The CoF already facilitates logistics for visits, and enables networking. Of special interest for fellows like me is reaching out to particular researchers in Tübingen working on similar or related topics and organising small workshops to get some key conversations started.

August 2023: Eleonora Bedin

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences.

I am a Teach@Tuebingen Fellow at the Department of Classical Archaeology, University of Tuebingen. I have a solid background in Classics, and during my doctoral years, I specialized in studying the cultural identities of the Graeco-Roman Southern Levant, with a close focus on its archaeological and historical context. I was awarded my PhD in August 2022 at the School of Archaeology and Maritime Civilizations, University of Haifa, Israel. My current fellowship provides me with an opportunity to gain further experience in teaching and to develop my own projects.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?

My research seeks to explore how Mediterranean societies dealt with issues of connectivity and cultural interactions, and how those historical patterns continue to hold relevance, providing insights into contemporary global issues. I am particularly fascinated by the ability to draw connections between the past and the present, studying ancient dynamics that shed light on current societal challenges.
Currently, I am developing a project focused on the political aspects of motherhood, tracing the religious pattern of the mother goddess as it traveled from the East to the West. Through this research, I aim to offer a new perspective on the perception of motherhood in antiquity, taking into consideration the various contexts it encompassed.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.

My research holds significant social relevance as it fosters cultural understanding, contributes to discussions on gender and motherhood, provides comparative insights into contemporary challenges, and enriches the academic understanding of the past. By delving into how Mediterranean societies addressed issues of connectivity, cultural interactions, and religious patterns in antiquity, my research aims to promote appreciation and respect for the diverse cultural heritage of the region, encouraging intercultural dialogue and empathy.
Furthemore, the investigation into the political aspects of motherhood and tracing the religious pattern of the mother goddess sheds light on the historical roles and perceptions of women in ancient societies. Understanding how motherhood was perceived in antiquity and its connections to political and religious contexts can contribute to ongoing discussions on gender roles and women's empowerment.
By exploring these facets, my work aims to bridge the gap between the ancient world and the present, imbuing it with relevance and meaning for modern society.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?

In today's world, universities have numerous opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation to tackle complex global challenges. The College of Fellows, with its esteemed reputation, expertise, and extensive network, acts as a driving force in advancing the university's global reach and fostering transformative collaborations. By nurturing cross-cultural engagement and preparing students and faculty for an interconnected world, the institution plays a pivotal role in shaping a more inclusive and innovative academic community. Through collaborative projects and research initiatives, the College contributes to addressing global issues and paving the way for impactful discoveries. Its commitment to international cooperation positions the university at the forefront of academic excellence and positive societal change.

Juli 2023: Norihito Nakamura

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research  
Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences.

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow of Intercultural Studies at the College of Fellows. During my master's and doctoral studies, I have investigated the religious philosophy of F.W.J. Schelling mainly from the aspects of political philosophy and theology. In 2022, I submitted my doctoral dissertation entitled “Philosophy and Religion as Anti-Political Apocalypse: An Introductory Study of Schelling's Political Philosophy” to the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University in Japan. This fellowship is my second stay in Germany, since I spent one year (2016-2017) at the Free University of Berlin as an undergraduate student. I am so delighted to be able to do my research in the city of Tübingen, where Schelling used to live and study.
 

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what  
fascinates you about your research area?

I am interested in “the politicity of the apparently non-political.” For example, when we think about politics, we usually associate it with elections, government policies and political parties. Those are definitely part of politics, but not the whole of it. Many other things drive our politics and social conflicts: religion, art, science, literature, media, education, subculture and so on. My present project is to evaluate the political impact of eschatological ideas and apocalyptic views, especially from the perspective of philosophy and the history of ideas. The terms “eschatology” and “apocalypse” here do not necessarily mean the specific thought of Western monotheism, but rather broadly a general framework within which we represent ideas about the end of the world.
 

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.

For our 21st century lives, ideological confrontations are not a game confined to intellectuals, but rather a part of our everyday life. Social media is filled with conspiracy theories and skepticism. How should we deal with them? These are new social phenomena with technological transformation, but they also seem to be classical philosophical questions - recall that Socrates was killed by some kind of “fake news.” In times of drastic social changes, people tend to be seduced by delusions and ideologies. Religion and philosophy might be complicit in it, but they have also taught us an ethic that makes us pause and think carefully and critically. I believe that a critical examination of this duality philosophy and religion have can be an urgent task at the present time.
 

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and  
interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an  
institution like the College of Fellows play in this?

With the excellent support of Niels Weidtmann and the meaningful interactions with the other fellows, I have been able to consider my research interests from different perspectives. Generally speaking, after completing a doctoral dissertation, we researchers need to re-develop our research interests and projects for the next decades. However, in today’s increasingly competitive and bureaucratic academic community, we have less and less opportunities to think fundamentally about our next challenge with free time. In such a situation, an institution such as the College of Fellows could function as a kind of “temple” for scholars.
 

Juni 2023: Hermílio Santos

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research  
Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences.

I am a Sociology Professor at PUCRS, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and since 2010 I combine my research activities with sociological documentary filmmaking connected in some way to my research activities.  I am the first Brazilian scholar to hold the CAPES (Brazilian Agengy for Higher Education) Chair, associated with the Baden-Württembergisches Brazilian and Latin-American Center and the Interdisciplinary Center for Global South Studies (ICGSS) at the University of Tübingen. I have so far concluded 6 documentary films, and currently I am working on the production of 5 other documentary films or documentary series with several episodes. This is a very powerful way to share academic activities with younger researchers, as well as with a non-academic audience, which usually does not have access to academic journals or events.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what  
fascinates you about your research area?

My current research addresses the heritage of more of three and a half centuries of slavery in Brazil in the everyday life of three generations of black women from the same family in three regions of Brazil that were strongly dependent on the slaved work. In my study I am using a theoretical and methodological approach developed in the German-academic community, i.e. the sociology of the Austrian-Jew Alfred Schütz and the reconstructive biographical narrative approach, first developed by Fritz Schütze (Universities of Bielefeld and Kassel) and later incremented by the Sociologist Gabriele Rosenthal (University of Göttingen). I organized the translation from German into Portuguese and wrote the Introduction of two books from Schütz and two books from Rosenthal in order to disseminate these approaches in the Portuguese Social Sciences communities. Besides this, I produced two documentaries related to these approaches: “Lifeworld: The Sociology of Alfred Schütz”, already screened and discussed in more than 20 universities worldwide and “Lifeworld II: Biographies and Narratives”, already filmed and to be launched in the next months of 2023. As in my previous studies, connected to my current research I am producing a documentary series in 5 episodes, “Black Heiresses”. The first two episodes are to be launched by the end of next year.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.

This is the first time that this methodological approach is applied to investigate this subject, and only rarely the perspective of black women is considered in sociological research. My objective is to analyze the interpretation of those women of their own everyday life experiences, which results will be presented in text format (papers and presentations in academic events) and through a documentary series.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and  
interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an  
institution like the College of Fellows play in this?

The role already played by the team of the College of Fellows is amazing, serving as a powerful platform for dialogue and visibility for efforts made by academics, that most of the time stay isolated within the universities walls. Research is about social realities, regardless of academic discipline, and with the support of the College of Fellows exchange with the academic and non-academic communities is realised, giving an extraordinary new meaning to the research activities developed by fellows who are spending a period of time at the University of Tübingen.

Mai 2023: Mohammed Ech-Cheikh

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research  
Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences.

I am Prof. Mohammed Ech-Cheikh, head of the philosophy department at Hassan II University (Casablanca, Morocco) and researcher in political philosophy, philosophy of religion and philosophy of values, who has to his credit around twenty books. My invitation by the University of Tubingen as a distinguished research fellow was made in the spirit of openness and the desire to meet other researchers from diverse backgrounds to enrich German university life.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what  
fascinates you about your research area?

The narrative of the Arab-Islamic tradition of thought suffers from a double misunderstanding: It is often reported by Western scholars in a reductionist way, and by Eastern scholars in an apologetic one. It is time to try to dispel these misunderstandings by proposing a more inclusive methodology and to be more attentive to the diversity of this tradition. Hence my interest in a new narrative of this tradition that starts from these questions: How did we arrive at the doubly biased narrative: The reductionist and the apologetic one? How did we come to consecrate the Western narrative of world philosophy as the only legitimate and legitimizing narrative: with its periodization of the history of philosophy, its topics, and its problematics? Can we find in other traditions, alongside known topics, other topics that can enrich and complete Western narratives? Can the history of world philosophy be reported from regional monographs which complement and do not negate each other? What can be interesting and inspiring in these ‘other traditions’? Can they bring us some lessons of wisdom, humility, and serenity at a time when postmodern man is beginning to worry about his future?

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.

If we let ourselves be guided by this great hermeneutical principle formulated by Terence:"Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto", (I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me), we can say that the social relevance of my concerns lies in this: At a time when xenophobic discourse is heard in the public space more than ever, a public space that is resistant, tolerant and open to others is more than ever in demand. "Who does not know foreign languages is truly ignorant of his own language" ("Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eigenen"), affirmed, already in the 19th century, the illustrious German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Nowadays, we can also say that who does not know foreign cultures is truly ignorant of his own culture.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and  
interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an  
institution like the College of Fellows play in this?

We live in a time when 'barbarism' is starting to come ‘from below’, with the proliferation of populist discourses. The need for new ‘Aufklärung’ is once again felt. No new ‘Aufklärung’, less dogmatic and authentically universal, without the participation of academia and academics. Hence the importance of cooperation between researchers from all over the world to revive the 'will to know' against the 'will not to know' which is beginning to spread. From this point of view, the College of Fellows is an innovative idea that distinguishes the German university.

April 2023: Mykola Saltanov

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences.
I am currently a postdoctoral Fellow of Intercultural Studies at the College of Fellows. I defended my doctoral thesis "The problem of recognition in German classical and modern practical philosophy" (specialty - History of Philosophy) at Kharkiv National University (Ukraine), where I also taught courses within the Department of Theoretical and Practical Philosophy as well as German language courses for Germanists. I held scholarships at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and at the University of Vienna. Before arriving in Tübingen, I conducted research in the field of bioethics at the University of Münster (Germany) at the Institute of Ethics, History and Theory of Medicine.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
In my previous research, I developed a model for understanding “recognition” in modern practical philosophy. Recognition takes place at three levels: individual (recognition and the problem of constituting identity), collective (recognition and the problem of social justice, human rights and co-existence of all cultural forms on the even conditions in cross-cultural dialogue), and interstate (recognition of the problem of domestic and external legitimacy of the state).
Point of departure in my research is focused on the problem of recognition in its transformation from German classical philosophy to contemporary practice. Based on a critical study of the historical and philosophical sources it detected heredity (“recognition” as a mechanism of realization or institutionalization of individual rights and freedoms or expanding liberty as such) and difference (change from the recognition of individual identity to group identity recognition, understanding of “recognition” as one of the manifestations of justice) in concept recognition in German classical and contemporary practical philosophy.
The most fascinating questions in my research are: what criteria should we use to consider any culture or cultural practices as equal or unequal?
It is necessary to examine closely the relationship between the identity of the cultural group and the self-consciousness of the individual. In this sense, it is also applicable to the research of rapprochement abilities between cultural majority and cultural minority groups.

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.My research project raises a number of issues related to the coexistence of cultures, the conditions of cultural diversity in the context of globalization. As such, I study the mechanisms of preventing the dominance of one culture over another; that research, of course, represents socio-cultural significance.
Today, when globalization blurs or opens the borders of national states and people are forced to closely coexist with diverse cultural forms, values, religious systems, political perspectives, there arises a need for the formation of conservation conditions and reasonable diversity. 
What role does intercultural dialogue play here? Especially in the sphere of multicultural societies. The demand to recognize the autonomy of one or the other cultural group, which will make its existence possible, is based on an idea of the parallel existence of diverse cultures that can permeate, enrich and develop each other.
Intercultural dialogue and recognition not only play an important role in critical reflection on the importance of pluralism, dialogue, freedom in contemporary Ukrainian society in the context of globalization, but are also particularly relevant in view of the current Russian-Ukrainian war.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
I believe that with the help of this scientific stay, and in particular with the full support of Niels Weidtmann, it is possible to establish scientific contacts with many universities and scientific ones of my native city of Kharkiv (Ukraine), which is considered the scientific and student capital of Ukraine (there are more than 30 universities and institutes). The possibility of organizing a joint scientific event could demonstrate the great scientific potential of my alma mater.

März 2023: Abbed Kanoor

1. Please introduce yourself and the background of your stay as Research Fellow in Tuebingen in one or two sentences.
I am currently a Senior Fellow at the research forum Global Encounters of the University of Tübingen and also directeur de programme de recherche at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris (2019 - 2025). I hold a PhD in philosophy a focus on phenomenology of time from the universities of Paris Sorbonne and Wuppertal. Before coming to Tübingen, I was visiting lecturer at the universities of Toulouse and Hildesheim. I did my bachelor's degree and my first master's degree in Iran (Tehran) in the history of Western and Oriental philosophy, before obtaining the second master's degree in Franco-German European philosophy (Erasmus Mundus). I arrived in Tübingen in the summer of 2020 as a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies. For two years, I had the chance to exchange with other researchers and colleagues at the University of Tübingen.

2. Which problem or question does your research address and what fascinates you about your research area?
Coming from phenomenology, I am interested in a philosophical approach to fundamental questions and phenomena (time, space, history, world, body) based on lived experience. What I address in my current research is the interculturality: How is it possible to understand the world from different cultural perspectives? How can philosophy contribute to the encounter of cultures? How can canonical Western philosophy be understood in its cultural dimension? What does an intercultural identity look like? To answer these questions, I take two methodological steps: 1) In the critical approach, I am very curious about non-European traditions of thought in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, with a focus on Iran and Persian-speaking thinkers of India and Pakistan, but also critical de- and postcolonial epistemologies. 2) Taking a phenomenological approach, I address the phenomenon of the "between" (inter-) in contemporary philosophy, cultural anthropology, and comparative literature. 
What fascinates me about my field of research are the rich possibilities for thought and insight that the intercultural approach opens up. I have participated in international conferences, meeting researchers and thinkers from different cultures.I am traveling to Cameroon in May 2023, and what fascinates me is the relationship between place/geography and thought that such an endeavour can bring to light. 

3. Please briefly outline the social relevance of your research.
I think the most important social relevance is the critical attitude towards the different forms of centrism that we take for granted uncritically (e.g. the history of thought is nothing but the canonical history of European philosophy). When this critical attitude is accompanied by an intercultural openness and curiosity, we become more aware of the hidden cultural dimensions of the world. It is not always easy to question the passive heritage that we take for granted.

4. Where do you see future opportunities for international and interdisciplinary cooperation for the university, and what role can an institution like the College of Fellows play in this?
With the full support of Niels Weidtmann, I had the chance to initiate and contribute to an axis of cooperation between the Universities of Tübingen and Toulouse, which resulted in a Promotionscolleg "Neue kritische Theorien und dezentralisierte Epistemologien / Nouvelles théories critiques et épistémologies décentrées" with regular joint academic conferences in Tübigen and Toulouse. Deepening this axis and contributing to the theoretical aspect of cultural studies is where I see future opportunities hopefully. The German academy is indeed a very good place for the first postdoctoral years, but unfortunately not always afterwards. That is why, at least in the humanities, many friends and colleagues who did their PhDs and first postdoctoral years here have left Germany for northern European or English-speaking countries (applying for lecturer positions, assistant or associate professorships). I hope that the projects and cooperation do not become completely dependent on third-party funding.

Februar 2023: Diana Liao

1. How did you become aware of the College of Fellows?
I was contacted by the UT Welcome Center who have made me feel very welcome in Tuebingen over the years. In this time, I have attended interesting events and seminars that helped broaden my horizons.  

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?
How human speech and language evolved is one of the most intriguing mysteries. Evolution typically tinkers with preexisting phenotypes to find viable solutions to new challenges. It seems logical that human speech evolved from the non-speech vocalizations of our hominid ancestors. Unfortunately, social behaviors, the brain, and the soft tissues of the vocal apparatus do not fossilize. So, we can take advantage of the comparative method – investigating the vocal behavior and associated mechanisms of extant animals – to shed light on this question. My current research examining the vocal abilities of crows – who diverged from the primate lineage 300 million years ago – will hopefully reveal the general principles and circuits underlying flexibility in vocal communication. This would be of interest to not only comparative neuroethologists, but also the wider public.   

3. You grew up in California, USA. How do you experience Germany on this background?
Even though one of my more recent favorite pastimes is complaining about cancellations and delays of the Deutsche Bahn, I really do appreciate that there is a well-developed public transport network throughout Germany and through neighboring countries as well. Getting around via rail and buses has been much easier than in the US because of the investment in infrastructure. Relatedly, the emphasis on work-life balance and the generous holiday allowance grants plenty of opportunity for travel and new experiences.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
I am a huge fan of long walks for clearing the mind and sparking new ideas. Additionally, I enjoy identifying edible plants and mushroom hunting. So, having the Schönbuch in such close proximity is fantastic!

5. What does the university of the future look like?
I think universities are going to undergo rather dramatic changes in the near future with recent technological advancements and transformations in pedagogy. A focus on inclusivity would be integral for the dynamic exchange and generation of interdisciplinary ideas.

Februar 2023: Han-luen Kantzer Komline

1. How did you become aware of the College of Fellows?

Through introductions provided by the Welcome Center of the University of Tübingen, both via email and in a brief presentation by Dr. Niels Weidtmann at one of the Welcome Center events.    

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?  

My work focuses on the beliefs of Christians — specifically on exploring how Christians of the first seven centuries or so after Christ thought about the big “theological” questions — who God is, God’s action in the world, and how this bears upon the meaning of life.  Some of it has focused on ideas that tend to be specific to the Christian community, such as the understanding of Jesus as both God and human.  My current project is about early Christian attitudes toward newness and innovation, themes that figure in many religions, cultures, and societies.  

Through this variety of topics, all of my work focuses on how beliefs at the core of the Christian faith — beliefs about God — affected how Christians thought about everything, from the issue of how people can be motivated to do the right thing (the topic of my first book) to issues as basic as discerning when innovation is good and how to measure time.  

This focus on early Christian beliefs about God means that my work is relevant in a direct way for the Christian community as it seeks to understand who God is, and to assess its own history, identity, and present commitments to God and God’s world.  But I hope that my work’s specific focus also makes it useful to anyone interested in how Christians have approached questions about the meaning of life or in how influential approaches to big questions took shape in the past and affect our societies and assumptions about the world today.  I write for these audiences as well.

3. You grew up in New Jersey. How do you experience Germany on this  background?

In many ways German culture is more similar to my New Jersey background than is the culture of the place I currently call home—a small town on Lake Michigan called Holland, in the Midwest of the United States.  I often have the sense that people tend to communicate more tersely and directly and to be more reserved and private here than in the Midwest.  It can also be easier to discover what people really think and to talk openly.  I find that Tübingen is also similar to the area of New Jersey where I grew up in that the city is quite international and somewhat transient, making it easy to get to know a diverse array of people.  This is my third time living in Germany and these areas of cultural overlap are part of the reason, I think, why I feel comfortable here.  

One difference I’ve observed is that German society as a whole, at least as I’ve experienced it, demonstrates greater awareness in everyday life of the life of the mind, the arts, and cultivating awareness of history.  On my way to work here, I pass Ferdinand-Christian-Baur-Straße, Keplerstraße, and Hölderlinstraße.  Near where I live there are a series of streets named Brahmsweg, Brucknerweg, Mozartweg and Beethovenweg.  The nearest bus stop is Haydnweg.  Modern German life is built on the past more obviously than is contemporary life in the places where I have lived in the U.S.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
In Waldhausen, just up the hill from where we live in Wanne, you can find open fields with beautiful views of surrounding rolling hills and barns full of cows chomping on green grass.  This is where we get our milk, refilling glass jars from a spout right next to the barn.  Nearby Heuberger Tor has great views.  My family and I enjoy walking along the paths in the woods in that area.   

Another favorite place also comes from my daily life, but the work side: the library of the Theologikum.  It’s a lovely light-filled building with walls of windows on all sides.  It makes for a beautiful work environment as well as an inspiring metaphor for theological work!  

5. What does the university of the future look like?

I tend to be preoccupied with studying the past rather than the future so speculation like this does not come naturally to me!  But I would imagine that internationalization will continue to be important.  I hope that our societies will also find a way to navigate (and in key respects to avoid!) the trend toward the commercialization of higher education, to invest in disciplines in a value- and not merely profit-driven way.  Given its leadership and its own rich history, the University of Tübingen seems poised to be a trailblazer in both regards.  I am delighted to be a part of this academic community for the year. 

Januar 2023: Francesco Padovnai

1. How did you become aware of the College of Fellows?
As a Humboldt junior research fellow in Tübingen, I have been contacted by the UT Welcome Centre and asked to participate in the Humboldt Lecture series. I have consequently come in touch with the College of Fellows, which I did not know beforehand. Since then, I have discovered the captivating programme provided by the College of Fellows and participated as an audience member in many of their interdisciplinary initiatives.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?
I study the ancient Greek world, namely its literary tradition and its legacy in contemporary culture. My two main topics so far have been the works of Plutarch of Chaeronea, a Platonic philosopher and biographer known particularly for his Parallel Lives, and the classical reception studies. I always try to read the ancient culture through new lens, which intertwine with other disciplines. Nonetheless, I would also like to put emphasis on how the past and the literature that I’m basing my research on are endless sources of stimuli that contribute to our better understanding of contemporary problems and current topics, such as inter- and transculturality or power relations. I am firmly convinced that literature is a fundamental feature of the human presence in the world, since it does not represent a close system, but a space of interaction for aesthetical as well for social and political issues. The study of antiquity helps develop tools for thinking critically about culture and society: it is not just a mere acceptance of an identity or defined tradition, but on the contrary, it plays an important civic and educational role within a democratic society, since it shows that nothing of what we actually think and say can be taken for grant. The high specialisation even in the humanities has sometimes overshadowed our task of connecting knowledge and society together. We are now in charge of finding new ways and constructive perspectives to deal with the important social changes of our times.

3. You grew up in Italy. How do you experience Germany on this background?
I must say that I do not perceive any significant differences in the way of life and thinking, particularly with regard to my generation – I was born in 1989. We grew up considering ourselves as part of Europe, and figuring Europe as a part of the world – not anymore as its centre. I think that it is extremely important to avoid any nationalist issue, particularly in this time of increasing political revanchisme, as the recent elections in my country have shown. In general, I must say that the German society seems to be very inclusive, also due to the huge presence of international workers in the country. The quality of the academic work in Germany is very high, but as far as I can see even here the system is affected by the same problems as in other countries, with particular regard to the employment precarisation, which obviously makes it harder to develop mid- and long- term research projects.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
I really enjoy walking through the town, and the view from the Neckarbrücke still impresses me after more than one year spent in Tübingen. Recently I have ‘discovered’ the Weststadt and it is a pleasure for me to wander through the little streets which surround the Jakobuskirche. The atmosphere there is enchanting. In spring and in summer I love to go for a walk to Bebenhausen, a place of a highly inspiring beauty.

5. What does the university of the future look like?
At the moment, I cannot make a prediction. I think we are experiencing a period of important social changes, whose consequences are still unpredictable. Indeed, I see two contradictory issues which coexist nowadays in the European academic system. On the one side, I perceive an increasing awareness of the democratic needs, more equality (even if often more rhetorical than substantial), more attention to avoid discriminations. On the other side I see a loss of interest for the didactic, less attention to the students, less opportunities for the PhD candidates and the postdocs to get a position, and less space for free research, independent from private interests. The risks that I see are the marginalization of the university within the competitive economic system, or its full subordination to it. My wish is that university finds new energy to play a significant role in education and in building a critical citizenship and not only in the production of self-referential speculations or of knowledge which is functional to the economic system.

Januar 2023: Dalia Nassar

1. How did you become aware of the College of Fellows?
I became aware of the College of Fellows through emails I received from the Welcome Center, and through my friend, Niels Weidtmann, who is the director.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?
I think my work is relevant for anyone concerned with the environmental crisis - so I'd say that I'm trying to speak to large portions of society. The academic community is of course inclued, and my work would be relevant to those who work in enviornmental studies, cultural studies, environmental humanities, and any humanistic discipline that interrogates the nature-human relationship.

3. You grew up in Amman, Jordan. How do you experience Germany on this background?
I am not new to Germany; I first lived here in 2002, in Berlin, where I studied German for 2 months at the Goethe Institute. Then I moved to Tübingen in 2004, and was here for three years. I was back in Germany (Lüneburg in 2009) and again in Hamburg in 2012. I came back to Tübingen in 2019, and lived here for a year, and have now been back since May... So to me Germany, and in particular, Tübingen, is like a second home. I can't say that it is foreign any more. But if I look back on my first experiences in Germany - I'd say that what most surprised me is how quiet people are, how you can be in a café, and it's very still, or in the bus, and no one makes a sound. That is very different from most of the places I've lived, where there is always music in cafes or children screaming, etc. I am still amazed by how quiet German children are!

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
I was never a café person, until I met my husband, who is very much a café person, and I've converted since. So I will have to say that my favourite places are cafes, and they are: Bota, Lunette and Hanseatica. But I also love walking on the Neckarinsel, or walking from Tübingen to Lustnau. Many years ago, I rode my bike with a friend to Rottenburg, and that was a special day... that path is gorgeous.

5. What does the university of the future look like?
I think it will be smaller, and have a more integrated education, where students are not only doing intellectual work, but also practical work, especially farming. I am more and more convinced that we all need to find our way back to our hands and to integrate our hands with our heads (and hearts) more. The university of the future should be more holistic, and bring us closer to the land, to plants and animals, and help us to understand our dependence and interconnections.

Dezember 2022: Qi Li

1. How did you become aware of the College of Fellows?
Actually I never heard about the College of Fellows (CoF) even if I have been a postdoc or a Humboldt research fellow in Tübingen for over two years. I’m quite happy that I got a notification about it in time. The CoF certainly provides a useful platform for scholars in multidisciplines for exchanging ideas and communication. Really amazing!

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?
My research is to investigate molecular mechanisms underlying complicated processes during plant development, especially crop development. I’m primarily using genetics and also diverse molecular biology approaches to address the questions of our interest. I think a main relevance of my research is that I can satisfy myself and my curiosity, and exercise my brain as well, because I found that genetics is really like a puzzle. The phenomenon in nature are always there, complex to understand, but you can logically and creatively provide potential principles of how or why this happens, just like Sherlock Holmes solving cases. And it is also not a routine work and I can imagine that if staying in academia I would always encounter diverse types of questions throughout my career. I can continuously exercise my brain to address them. This is fantastic to me. Besides, from an unselfish perspective, understanding crop development will provide more opportunities to improve crop production in terms of both yield and quality, which are becoming more and more important at this moment now that the war is happening and the global population is constantly growing.

3. You grew up in China. How do you experience Germany on this background?
China is still developing and nearly all people there are trying to work hard for a good living. Benefits are that the economy is very strong and everything is becoming better in China, but sometimes competition and peer pressure are unavoidably fierce. Compared to that, the majority of people in Germany are really friendly, always kind and open to help solve some of my problems, and don’t mind return of interest too much. Of course, people here sometimes are too serious to the business, but it is professional. And, people here like to keep a very good work-life balance not like in China and United States. Even so, Germany still has the most energetic academic environment in Europe and it is really not easy to achieve.

And I also like the summer in Tübingen, even though short during the whole year, not very hot only if you try to protect yourself from the sunshine. I feel the sun is too bright for eastern Asian people. But the temperature is quite cosy to do some outdoor activities. Winter is quite long, but considering that the facilities can assure sufficient heating, Tübingen is a good place to live for a long time.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
Everywhere, but if I have to put a finger on it, I would say my corn field and the forest around that (in Heuberger-Tor-Weg).

5. What does the university of the future look like?
I’m not sure. From a Chinese perspective, a good university would always move or is moving to a big city in order to attract more excellent students and professors. But obviously it is not the case in Germany. I think the University will definitely continue to reinforce its scientific research.

Dezember 2022: Sabine Wilke

1.    How did you become aware of the College of Fellows?
I am in Tübingen for three months (October - December 2022) as a returning Alexander von Humboldt research fellow and was contacted by the Welcome Office about participating in the Humboldt Lecture Series and the College of Fellows. I was unaware of the CoF before I arrived in Tübingen, even though I had been at the university as research fellow off and on for the last thirty years. The College of Fellows is a welcome addition to including external scholars into the research infrastructure and providing networking opportunities, especially for junior researchers.

2.    For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g., for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?
My scholarly work is in the field of German Studies with an emphasis on theory, intellectual history, gender studies, but also colonial studies and, most recently, environmental studies. When I was in Tübingen with a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation in 2003-2004, I wrote a book on the German colonial imagination which, I hope, was and still is relevant to society at large in reminding Germans about their legacy as colonial power. Nowadays, I see posters all over Tübingen that inform about the colonial history of the town and the university and its involvement with the colonial project. But it is especially my most recent involvement with the Environmental Humanities that, I assume, is relevant for scholarship and society in general. In 2011, I founded a transatlantic network of scholars working in the Environmental Humanities, including members from the University of Tübingen, with the generous proceeds from the Alumni Prize that the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation afforded me that year. The network has meanwhile expanded significantly and work in the Environmental Humanities in my field is blossoming and now represented on all interdisciplinary conferences worldwide.

3.    You grew up in the Ruhrgebiet in Germany. How do you experience Germany on this background?
I grew up in Wiesbaden and Darmstadt in the sixties and seventies and Tübingen is the place I've returned to most frequently because of its excellent research infrastructure, library access, and the colleagues in my field. I am always amazed at the constantly increasing openness of German society to diverse perspectives and influences from different cultures at all levels of life. Walking through the Botanische Garten, one can hear a broad range of languages spoken from all continents, sometimes even Swabian. This is different from what I remember growing up and changes evertime I return to Germany. I spent extended research time both in Munich and Berlin recently, two cities with a large percentage of international residents, but Tübingen also has a strong record in accepting and including diversity that it can be proud of.

4.    What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
Well, that’s easy: riding my bike on the Neckar cycle path or any of he many other trails gets you outside the city pretty quickly where you have great views down into town, across the Ammer valley, or the Alb and surroundings. Walking through the Schönbuch and having lunch at Hohenentringen is another favorite; enjoying the many markets and activities the old town has to offer and then having a glas of wine and a slice of Zwiebelkuchen (onion quiche) at the Mayerhöfle (a Geheimtip!) is a rare treat.

5.    What does the university of the future look like?
That’s a huge question. I grew up in a household where university politics was part of our daily dinner conversation and as a young person and then student myself I saw the university undergo a significant (and much needed) transformation from an institution steeped in tradition where male professors „professed“ the truth to a much more open academy where new topics and new approaches were tolerated, later even encouraged, and the first women were appointed to professorships. During the same time, the administrative apparatus grew exponentially and that is something that I fear might even increase in the future, not necessarily to the best of effects. As the administration has professionalized it has also become a self-serving mechanism. I hope the university of the future can find a good balance between academic personnel and administrators. The other development that I was privy to observe was a trend away from basic scholarship to „applied“ research, or research that can be translated into technology transfer or some value for a relevant application, sometimes short-term. Student interest also seems to move into this direction. I hope the university of the future can find back to its roots of producing basic research while at the same time being open to innovation and valuing diversity and inclusion.

November 2022: Sofie Schiødt

1.    Why did you apply to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how had you heard of it?
I heard of the College of Fellows through the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung. I applied to broaden my horizons and diversify my academic network. I come from a very small discipline (Egyptology), and I therefore find it especially important to seek interdisciplinary contact, not just with colleagues in closely related fields, such as Archaeology or Assyriology, but in a wide range of fields. The College of Fellows seems like the ideal platform to facilitate this kind of exchange.

2.    For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g., for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?
I heard of the College of Fellows through the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung. I applied to broaden my horizons and diversify my academic network. I come from a very small discipline (Egyptology), and I therefore find it especially important to seek interdisciplinary contact, not just with colleagues in closely related fields, such as Archaeology or Assyriology, but in a wide range of fields. The College of Fellows seems like the ideal platform to facilitate this kind of exchange.

3.    You grew up in the Ruhrgebiet in Germany. How do you experience Germany on this background?
In many ways Germany is similar to Denmark, and I have a definite advantage because the languages are relatively close (not grammatically, but lexicographically). So, in some ways I feel at home in Germany. But there are also many differences to what I am used to from Denmark, and I find the language, history, and culture of Germany endlessly fascinating.

4.    What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
I have not yet had time to explore the city, as I arrived only on October 31st. But I have visited the city previously on a short trip, and I absolutely loved walking along the Neckar. Tübingen is a very idyllic place.

5.    What does the university of the future look like?
Having been employed at a Danish university for the past 6 years, I have seen the troubling developments there, where academic knowledge is valued less and less, and knowledge is seen to only carry true value if it has an economic worth. Especially disciplines in the humanities have been widely criticized, being essentially regarded as inconsequential by the politicians, who have even attacked freedom of research. I therefore hope that the university of the future is one that values all disciplines, that stands by its employees’ right to freedom of research, and that does not seek only to capitalize on research but to promote it for the sake of research itself.

October 2022: Martin Porr

1.    Why did you apply to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how had you heard of it?
I have a very long association with the University of Tübingen because I started studying as an undergraduate student here in 1991. So, my association with the university extends over 30 years altogether. I first became aware of the respective opportunities through Niels Weidtmann (director of the College of Fellows, who at that time was the director of the former Forum Scientiarum) during a Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship at the University of Tübingen between 2015 and 2017. Niels Weidtmann and I collaborated for a workshop in 2019 and are currently editing the respective book together.

2.    For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g., for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?
I am a Palaeolithic and anthropological archaeologist and have published widely on Palaeolithic art and archaeology as well as general theoretical aspects of archaeological and rock art research. Relocating from Europe to Australia more than ten years ago has allowed me to develop new ways to interrogate the processes of archaeological reasoning and interpretation with a focus on the significance of Indigenous knowledge systems, the construction of heritage, and social justice. Because of my previous employment at two museums in Germany I also have experience in related non-academic fields. I have, consequently, always been particularly interested in the interrelationships between academic knowledge, archaeological evidence, and political and social processes. Even though I am very interested in social theory and the processes of knowledge production, my work also has a very important application-oriented dimension, particularly in the context of cultural heritage and intercultural communication.

3.    You grew up in the Ruhrgebiet in Germany. How do you experience Germany on this background?
I am a German citizen, born in Nordrhein-Westfalen. But I have now been away from Germany for almost 14 years and have been based in Western Australia with my family. I have kept my connections with Germany throughout this period, though, and my parents are still here. The main difference to living in Western Australia is incredible amount of work that is going on in Germany and Europe in my field and the number of researchers. This is obviously just a reflection of the greater pool of people in Europe, but it is also a consequence of a different attitude towards higher education and the funding that flows into the sector. Overall, I continue to be inspired by all the things that are happening around me when I am here.

4.    What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
I have a special relationship with the Schloss Hohentübingen, because that is where the archaeological and social anthropological institutes were located when I started studying. When I was an undergraduate student, specializing in Palaeolithic archaeology, I even received a key to the castle gate, because the professor had the policy of allowing all his students access to the departmental library 24/7. In the city itself, the Hanseatica café is my favorite place to have a great coffee and watch people walk past for a while.

5.    What does the university of the future look like?
I have experience with the university sector in Germany, Australia, and the UK. I am quite critical of recent developments of the increasing corporatization of the higher education sector, which is particularly prevalent in Anglo-American countries. University education should not be a business and the success of research should not foremost be evaluated through metrics and cash income. Universities should be places of learning and the critical engagement with social, economic, and political problems and challenges. Universities should also be safe places to develop socially critical and responsible research that should also speak truth to power. Therefore, universities must play important roles in the democratic process and are not simply places to produce job-ready graduates. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I developed a new appreciation of online teaching methods, but I see these more in a complementary fashion and classroom teaching is still more effective and fun for everyone. My most successful classes always involve extensive group work, lots of paper and marker pens, and a large whiteboard.

September 2022: Daniel Weiss

1. Why did you apply to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how had you heard of it?
I’m in Tübingen as a Humboldt Research Fellow for Experienced Reseachers. My academic host here, Prof. Holger Zellentin, told me about the College of Fellows and spoke positively of it, and encouraged me to look into it. When I found out more about it, it seemed like a very good way to meet and interact with other researchers here in Tübingen.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science’s sake)?
My current research focuses on reassessing early Jewish attitudes toward Christianity, as expressed in texts of classical rabbinic literature from the third century CE. Scholars, as well as the wider public, have tended to assume a more conflictual relation between representatives of rabbinic Judaism and those of Christianity. In various Christian texts from the second and third centuries, one finds a negative attitude expressed toward ‘Judaism,’ and scholars have frequently assumed that rabbinic Judaism viewed followers of Jesus in an equally negative way during this same time period. My research indicates that, in fact, third-century rabbbinic texts (in contrast to subsequent Jewish-Christian polemics) do not display an inherently negative attitude towards Jesus-followers. Many topics associated with the Jesus-movement do not appear to have evoked negative responses for the authors of the rabbinic texts -- including topics such as claims that the messiah has already come; the idea of calling someone ‘son of God’; and the ways the Synoptic Gospels criticize the Pharisees. Assumptions of a mutual, two-way hostility between rabbinic Judaism and Christianity during this time period need to be fundamentally rethought. This research is relevant both for historical understandings of the early centuries of development of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity, as well as for creating new frameworks for understanding and conversation between Jews, Christians, and Muslims today. It also has broader implications for thinking sociologically about the ways in which one group can engage in non-hostile ways with groups that differ from it in terms of practice or belief.

3. You grew up in Birmingham. How do you experience Germany on this background?
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Tübingen in August can sometimes be pretty hot, although not as hot as Alabama! 

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?
I’ve really enjoyed getting a chance to go hiking on the various beautiful trails and nature areas in the area around Tübingen. I’ve also enjoyed walking around in the Aldstadt -- I currently work in Cambridge, UK, another ancient University city, but Tübingen has its own unique look and feel. This month, I’ve worked most days in the library in the Theologicum, which has been a really excellent place to read and think. 

5. What does the university of the future look like?
My picture of an ideal university environment would be one in which students learn how to think for themselves, discuss ideas openly, critically question assumptions, and in which students and teachers learn from one another.

August 2022: Sarah Lohmann

1. Why did you apply to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how had you heard of it?

I received an email inviting international researchers to the Opening Ceremony of the College of Fellows in late April, and I came along because I hadn’t been able to meet many academics in other disciplines at the University of Tübingen. I ended up having a lovely evening and meeting Sara Bangert there, who put me in touch with Yanti Hölzchen, and this resulted in my being invited to give a Lunch Talk Presentation in July, which I also greatly enjoyed. I am in Tübingen as a Fellow in the Teach@Tübingen programme, having previously spent thirteen years in the UK studying English Literature and philosophy, so the College of Fellows has already been a great way for me to make connections with other international and interdisciplinary scholars here at Tübingen. I am very grateful and honoured to be named the ‘Fellow in Focus’ for August and I am proud to represent the College of Fellows in this capacity.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

My research focuses on speculative fiction – particularly science fiction, utopian literature and the Gothic – and on how people use literature to critically engage with reality in deep and creative ways. I am especially interested in how speculative genres may serve as transforming ‘mirrors’ or ‘crucibles,’ in the words of Dark Suvin, and thus provide a ‘dynamic transformation rather than a static mirroring of the author’s environment’ (Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction). In my PhD research, I used systems theory and analytic philosophy to investigate how a particular group of feminist utopian novels from the 1970s, the ‘critical utopias’ of Joanna Russ, Ursula K. Le Guin and Marge Piercy, can be seen as providing radically open and sustainable approaches to this dynamic transformation within utopian thought experiments. In my current work, I am applying related systems-theoretical lenses to look at Gothic literature and climate fiction and understand their own unique transformative functioning at a deeper level. As such, I think that my work is certainly relevant for the academic community, given that utopian literature in particular has recently been undervalued and my interdisciplinary approach should help us understand its creative potential in a new light. However, I also think it is relevant for society at large, particularly in these times of great change and upheaval, as we are socially once again at a point of great potential transformation and thus have a lot to learn from creative social re-imaginings in literature if we take the time to understand their true critical potential.

3. You grew up in Germany. How do you experience Germany on this background?

I grew up in Munich, Germany, in a bilingual household (with a German father and an American mother) and moved to Scotland right after my Abitur to study at the University of St Andrews, completing an undergraduate degree and two master’s degrees (in English literature and philosophy) at St Andrews before going to Durham University in England for my PhD. As such, it is quite interesting for me to be living back in Germany and working at a German university after thirteen years in the UK, having never actually studied at university level in Germany before. There are many things I like about the German university system, in particular – the relative freedom that students have to choose their own path, the lack of high fees – but I also appreciate the student community cohesion and support that comes with 3- or 4-year undergraduate degrees in the UK. As such, I am happy to be teaching a course here next semester in which I will help international students re-orient themselves in the German system and find the support they need. Regarding Germany as a country in general, I am glad to be in a somewhat more politically stable place again after experiencing the initial effects of Brexit in the UK, though I do now also have UK citizenship and still feel a deep affinity for the country. In any case, wherever I end up, I will always value my friendships and connections in the international academic community – we have so much to learn from each other in international and interdisciplinary networks, including institutions like the College of Fellows, and I think their existence is crucial for the future of dynamic and impactful research.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

I’m vegan, so I’m a big fan of our local veggie-friendly restaurants and cafés like Speicher, Vegi, Africa and Manufaktur – I’m very happy that Tübingen is showing the way forward with much-needed ‘utopian’ steps in the real world, providing food options that are not only kind to our non-human kin but also crucial for the survival of the planet. I’m also a very outdoorsy person and I’m lucky enough to live right by the Schönbuch forest, so I spend a lot of time walking in the woods and fields, which I absolutely love. Tübingen and its surroundings are beautiful and I’m grateful for every spare minute that I have to enjoy them.

5. What does the university of the future look like?

I think that the university of the future must be connected internationally and across disciplines so that we may all learn from one another and spark research ideas in urgently needed new directions, particularly in these times of global crisis and transformation. Moreover, I think that the university of the future can only function in these crucial new ways if it is fundamentally inclusive across arbitrary divisions such as gender, ethnicity, economic background, and age, as well as including structural support such as flexible working hours and childcare facilities. This is absolutely vital to the dynamic exchange of ideas, and we cannot imagine and work towards better futures together if we are still stuck in the rigid systems of the past.

Juli 2022: Jan Chromý

1. Why did you apply to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how had you heard of it?

I was told about the College of Fellows by a colleague, and I also received an information about it in an email from the university. Since I am a guest researcher who has a relatively long scholarship here in Tübingen, I thought it would be nice to join the College and meet other colleagues from various research fields. 

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

My research interests lie in the field of language comprehension. So the general research question of my research endeavor is How do we understand each other? Of course, the individual research projects I have been taking part in touch this question only from specific perspectives. For example, in a relatively recent project, we have shown that immediately after people read a non-complicated sentence, they are able to recall certain pieces of information to a higher extent than other. This points out that we have a tendency to code information selectively - we tend to ignore certain information when reading, but in a rather systematic way. This has potential consequences not only for the research of language comprehension, but also for other related research fields and maybe even for the society as such. 

3. You grew up in Czechia. How do you experience Germany on this background?

I grew up in a neighboring country which has a long and historically complicated relationship with Germany. My first time in Germany was when I was around 16 - my high school in Prague had an exchange program with a high school in Bonn so we went to Bonn and then students from Bonn came to Prague. I think this was very important moment both for me and for other students from both countries (we actually still meet from time to time). At that time (around 2000), the difference between (West) Germany and Czechia was striking (it started already in the train which was super comfortable in comparison to what we then knew in Czechia). Nowadays, I think the difference is not that pronounced anymore. In my eyes, Germany is still sort of a model country for Czechia. Many things work better here than by us and many improvements in Czechia have been driven by German examples. Funnily enough, there are also things which stroke me as considerably worse here than in Czechia - for example, the administrative is much faster and efficient in Czechia than here and also, our beer is way better. Altogether, I have to say that I enjoy my stay in Germany a lot. 

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

I live with my family in the French Quarter which is a really fantastic place where to live with kids. My favorite places in the city center are probably Café Südhang and Freistil Brewery where they have good craft beer and a very nice outside seating next to Neckar river. I also really enjoy eating in the restaurant Africa which is just next to the Brechtbau where my office is. 

5. What does the university of the future look like?

I think I can mention three things which seem to me to be rather important. The university of the future is forward-thinking and not bound by tradition on any level of its existence. The university of the future is a place of thorough interdisciplinary discussion without professional prejudices of any kind (either towards ways of thinking or towards different subject areas). And the university of the future is a pleasant place where to be for any person independently of their origins, gender, race, or language.

Juni 2022: Samuel Olusegun

1. Why did you apply to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how had you heard of it?

I came across the Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies when I was about to complete my doctoral thesis at the University of New South Wales, Australia. I attended a lecture by the Society for Intercultural Philosophy organized (hosted by Dr. Niels Weidtmann), where a prominent scholar of Ubuntu (Professor Mogobe Ramose) presented his works on ubuntu. It was through the lecture hosted by Dr. Niels that I became fully aware of the Center and its deep-seated activities and contributions to global scholarship, particularly through the college of fellows. Since I was particularly working on interdisciplinary and intercultural philosophy, I consider the Center the best fit for my future research on ubuntu and the environment.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

My research is importantly relevant in today’s world, particularly to laypeople, students, environmentalists, and policymakers across the globe. In my work, I draw attention to the need for critical engagement with power relations, particularly socio-ecological power relations, as this frames many contemporary lives across all nations and thus is central to how people use and alter the environment where they are. In setting out the philosophical landscape of my work, I draw on ubuntu scholarship, demonstrating that non-Western traditions have important philosophical insights that are applicable to any person and location in the global context. While my work presents an alternative way, an ubuntu-inspired way, to think about humanity, sustainability, and the earth environment, the appreciation and enactment of the recommendations should not be restricted to only those of ubuntu heritage since my work comparatively explores ideas on sustainability and biodiversity loss in Western and non-Western traditions, using the framings in each tradition to interrogate the other, so as to crave new pathways. My research motivates humans to act responsibly towards nonhumans beings and the environment and advances ways to decolonize indigenous moral epistemologies that are applicable to the global environment.

3. You grew up in Nigeria. How do you experience Germany on this background?

I must say that Tuebingen is a beautiful and lovely environment to be in. I love the fact that most things are well-organized, and people are always happy to support newbies. This resonates with the feelings of home away from home when I newly arrived in Bebenhausen. As someone who is fascinated by architecture, landscape, and cultural material heritages, I could say I am so happy to be here, particularly not only because there is a mix of built and natural environment where people live, but also that Tuebingen creates a sense of calmness with a valuable historical posture. I have lived in a very busy environment both in Nigeria and in Australia, however, Tuebingen helps create a sense of calmness, one which provides a sense of balance, fitness, and privacy. I also love the fact that I am working with a wonderful team of experts in phenomenology.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

I live close to Schönbuch natural park, which is one of my preferred places in Tuebingen. I also spend my weekends sometimes at the Botanical gardens, Hagellock Park, or historical sites such as NeckarBrucke bridge, where I relax with some friends.

5. What does the university of the future look like?

University is not merely a place for the transmission of knowledge but also an environment for knowledge creation. I think that the important questions that would (or should) drive the university of the future must include the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘who’ questions of knowledge creation. The ‘what’ question concerns the issue concerning the things that universities should invest in, in terms of knowledge creation. In this case, I believe that we face multiple problems in the world that require deep-seated solutions from all academic disciplines. I think engaging the ‘what’ question will help to shape the trajectory of the future of our universities across the globe. The ‘how’ question deals with the practical ways in which we might address whatever problems we face. It involves how we think about the problems we face, and the ways in which we might address them. The ‘how’ question requires we pay attention to the different pathways to address a single problem. In this case, I think the university of the future requires an interdisciplinary lens since the contemporary problems we face require an interdisciplinary gaze. A good example is the problem of environmental sustainability which has political, economic, cultural, and technological angles to it. Focusing on the aspects in an interdisciplinary and intercultural way would provide a better picture of the world and the problem, thereby prompting us to turn our gaze away from simplistic foci to a more illuminating pathway.  The ‘who’ is an important side to look at in knowledge creation. Traditionally, the university is organized around lecturers. Now, things are beginning to change. The impact of Covid-19 has presented us with an alternative way of viewing education and the place of the university in knowledge creation. I imagine that the university of the future will be student-oriented and problem-driven, which will allow for more flexibility and practicality in knowledge creation. I believe the university of the future will also focus on who creates knowledge. In which case, knowledge creation would likely shift to whosoever can create it, be it women, students, or non-Western people and regions. Why the question about what the university of the future would look like can be addressed in various ways, I believe that the prospects of the university in years to come would rest on innovative learning across all fields, among all people (regardless of their gender).

April 2022: Jonathan Okeke

1. Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

Well, I consider my research to be intercultural and interdisciplinary. The College of Fellows, thus, becomes a natural place for me to conduct my research. Dr Niels Wiedtmann, the Director of the institute hosts several colloquiums online. I must have stumbled on him advertising the institute in one of those, as he does every time. It is a wonderful place for research. I am really glad to be here. I was here in 2021 and contributed to the tink tank at the Center for designing the activities of the college of fellows. This is my second visit to complete my book on conversational thinking.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

My research is relevant for society everywhere in the world today. Most importantly, it is relevant in hotspots of conflict, racism, coloniality and all forms of marginalisation, whether economic, political, social, geographic or intellectual. I propounded the theory of conversational thinking and its framework called the conversational method. Both are grounded in a truth-glut type of three-valued logic called Ezumezu, which I also formulated. These form a structure for addressing issues arising from binary opposition and rival the bivalent orthodoxy in the Western intellectual space, from Plato and Aristotle to Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant. 

3. You grew up in Nigeria. How do you experience Germany on this background?

It is a well-organised society. Tubingen is peaceful, calm and lovely. Anyone who appreciates nature must love it here. In fact, most people here seem to be quite close to nature, perhaps even closer than they are to fellow human beings. You get the impression that people cherish their privacies, which is not the same where I come from. In much of Africa and specifically in my country, Nigeria, everyone is interested in everyone’s business. It could irritate you atimes, but it excites you most of the time. So, we are talking two societies with different orientations. When you are in a new society with an orientation that varies from what you are used to, it may seem strange at first, but I guess that is perfectly normal.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

I am not sure I have identified one yet. But I like the terrain and the gardens. As a lover of nature, the environment is appealing to me.

5. How does the university of the future look like?

University is not merely a place for the transmission of knowledge but also an environment for knowledge creation. I think that the important questions that would (or should) drive the university of the future must include the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘who’ questions of knowledge creation. The ‘what’ question concerns the issue concerning the things that universities should invest in, in terms of knowledge creation. In this case, we face multiple problems in the world that require deep-seated solutions from all academic disciplines. Engaging the ‘what’ question will help to shape the trajectory of the future of our universities across the globe. The ‘how’ question deals with the practical ways in which we might address whatever problems we face. It involves how we think about the problems we face, and the ways in which we might address them. The ‘how’ question requires we pay attention to the different pathways to address a single problem. In this case, I think the university of the future requires an interdisciplinary lens. A good example is the problem of environmental sustainability which has political, economic, cultural, and technological angles to it. Focusing on these aspects in an interdisciplinary and intercultural way would provide a better picture of the world and the problems we encounter, thereby prompting us to turn our gaze away from simplistic foci to a more illuminating pathway.  The ‘who’ question is an important side to look at in knowledge creation. Traditionally, the university is organized around lecturers and Western thought. Now, things are beginning to change. The impact of Covid-19 has presented us with an alternative way of viewing education and the place of the university (and Western scholarship) in knowledge creation. I imagine that the university of the future will be student-oriented and problem-driven, which will allow for more flexibility and practicality in knowledge creation. I also believe the university of the future will focus on who creates knowledge. In which case, knowledge creation would likely shift to whosoever can create it, be it women, students, or non-Western people and regions. Why the question about what the university of the future would look like can be addressed in various ways, the prospects of the university in years to come would rest on innovative learning across all fields, among all people (regardless of their gender).

März 2022: Mădălina Guzun

1. Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

I first heard of the CIIS in Bucharest, where I was doing my first post-doc in philosophy by working with Prof. Bogdan Mincă, who participated at some of the activities of the center. At that time, I was also broadening my research by completing a master’s course in Islamic studies. Thus, since I was looking for a place where I could pursue my work both in phenomenology and in the area of interculturality, the CIIS just seemed the place to be.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

I believe that whoever does philosophy can say that his or her work is relevant for every human being and for society as such. But given the fact that philosophy has also turned itself into an academic field, my work also inscribes itself in the results of the academic community of philosophers, while being at the same time open to anyone who is interested in the question of language, translation and foreignness.  

3. You grew up in Romania. How do you experience Germany on this background?

It’s very interesting that your question relates the foreignness of Germany with the place in which I grew up and on the background of which I would be supposed to experience it. To some extent, you’re right to address the question in this way: our first perceptions open our sight forever, and the home country is one of these doors. But given the fact that we are historical beings subject to change, I could also say that a very important role in the way in which I perceive life in Germany is played by some other countries where I studied, namely France, Brazil and Turkey. On the background of these countries, which have in common with Romania a certain general openness and warmth, as well as a certain lack of order and a taste for improvisation, Germany appears rather as a cold place, in which everything functions very well – but where there’s hardly someone enjoying it. At the same time, nonetheless, what I enjoyed was the absence of cultural pressure that one experiences in countries where the foreign is placed under the urge of being assimilated. In Germany, on the contrary, there is room for you as a foreign, there is room for dialogue. But since not only spatiality, but also temporality influences our way of being, a major aspect of my stay in Tübingen is the fact that we find ourselves in the pandemic, which brings to light, as an exceptional historical stance, some cultural features that would otherwise be less blatant. What stroke me during this time in Germany was the way in which most of the people complied to the social rules imposed by the government and, also, the way in which it became socially unacceptable not to comply with them. A certain “have to” transformed itself very quickly in “man macht das”. Many people with whom I discussed thought that these rules were unjust or that they were founded on frail grounds, yet they continued to obey by them. This is something that I would find difficult to imagine in Romania, which is rather a country which resists the political power in place, the authority of the institutions, and where one would rather complain for a lack of predictability. During the pandemic, nonetheless, that was felt rather as a space of freedom.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

My favourite place in Tübingen is Tübingen itself. I enjoy its nature and especially the river, its narrow streets and the fact that one can easily walk from one place to another, but also some of the cafés in which I can sit and have a drink with my friends or read. I wish, actually, that Tübingen had more of these places of sociability, as well as more sunny terraces or Biergärten.

5. How does the university of the future look like?

I would start by saying what the university of the future is not – namely, a digital university. The pandemic has also changed much of what we think of as acceptable in academic terms: if a couple of years ago the fact of participating online at a conference was perceived as a lack of implication, for the standard of action was given by the embodied meeting, now, on the contrary, people have the expectation of being able to participate online as well, and if one organizes an event, one has to additionally mention that it takes place “in presence”. Even the fact that there has appeared a “name” for something which before was unnamed, because it went literally without saying, should make us become aware of the change. But the pandemic has also shown us, like in a negative film, how important our embodiment is in the process of sharing ideas, and especially our social embodiment. Therefore, I believe that if the university can indeed take advantage of the possibility of organizing some remote classes for people from different countries, this should be just a way to make them connect in view of a personal meeting. At the same time, I see the university of the future as a less rigid structure in terms of international cooperation, academic jobs and curricula.

Januar 2022: Juan Rivera

1. Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

I applied to itthe CoF certainly because of its international reputation and the cutting-edge scientific event organized here but also because of the great disciplinary openness it promotes. I heard of it through the network of Advanced Studies Institutions across Europe which I had the honor to be part of in the past decade.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

I think that my scientific work as a social anthropologist specialized in the diverse collectives of the South American highlands could be relevant for Andean societies in their struggles for survival and recognition, for any nation dealing with indigenous peoples in their territories, and finally for the scientific knowledge of human diversity and its multiple possibilities of our relations with non-humans in the times of the Anthropocene.

3. You grew up in France. How do you experience Germany on this background?

I did grow up in Peru but let me add that I come from the most vulnerable and exploited part of its society: son of a single mother with indigenous ancestors raised in the shantytowns where dispossessed peasants looked for refuge from the then on-going political violence in the highlands. I mention this particularity of my background because one of the main features of my particular experience of Germany is almost the perfect opposite either of that background or of its consequences for any society: the peace of mind, the time and the freedom of thought I have been able to receive here.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

The city center is really amazing and quite unique, along with the rivers and its botanical garden. My most favorite place for my interest in the Americas is obviously the Cotta-Haus. I like pretty much everything actually!

5. How does the university of the future look like?

I am not sure if I would be able to say something relevant about this particular topic, but I would think that it is essential to safeguard in any possible future the freedom of thought, the capacity of analysis and, as suggested in a well-known Argentinian film, the "merciless lucidity" needed for any truly scientific work.

Dezember 2021: Elise Coquereau-Saouma

1. Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

I have graduated from the University of Vienna in the research program “Philosophy and non-Western traditions – Intercultural Philosophy”, which is, together with the College of Fellows, one of the few Centers researching on Intercultural Philosophy in the German-speaking world. I have been aware of the activities in Tübingen for several years through the Society for Intercultural Philosophy (GIP), for which I edit the Newsletter.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

I want my work to be relevant for students and researchers who cannot accept that philosophy is just what they have always been taught: German, French or American-British, of a certain colour, privilege, or gender. There are several layers to the problems, but one thing is sure: philosophy ought to be broadened, and I want to point at philosophers who have been excluded of the canon, to reflect on what the margins of philosophy tell us, and how they are constituted, and working on expanding the corpus. I also want my work on contemporary Indian philosophy not only to be usable as comparative introductions for scholars in Europe but engage students and researchers in India and create materials that can be included in their own research and teaching, for not only using their intellectual resources, but serving their own purposes.

3. You grew up in France. How do you experience Germany on this background?

What I enjoy the most about Germany is actually its regionalism – a source of endless jokes! For example, you just need to mention ‘Schwaben’, ‘Maultaschen’, some words of Schwäbisch or some cultural clichés (like your neighbours spying on your garden, which is not only a cliché…) in front of (preferably) listeners from various parts of Germany, for the game to start – something much less present in the Frenchs’ centralised spirit.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

I came to Tübingen during the Covid-19 crisis and began my stay with 10 days of quarantine; shortly after, all the shops, restaurants and University buildings closed. Hence, first out of necessity, and later maybe out of habit and enjoyment for my normally rather urban self, my favourite Tübingen is ‘outside’ and in the ‘nature’: I started discovering the Österberg, the Käsenbachtal (and after it reopened, the Botanical Garden), and the beautiful and varied path of Schönbuch natural parc – the way through the forest to Bebenhausen (a classical, admittedly) is my favourite long sunny weekend leisure.

5. How does the university of the future look like?

The transition to online conferences, workshops, lectures and so on make it now possible to have truly international and diverse research and reading groups, to discuss and exchange with scholars all over the world. This opens an exciting range of possibilities, in particular for the places that could not afford attracting (and paying for) far-away professors or large-scale global conferences (and its cumulated costs). Yet, I hope this will not only lead to the ‘super-stars’ of the scholarly world to be even more famous, but also for students in less ‘rated’ academic structures to create their own research groups with peers that receive better institutional supports, for learning from professors and students in more secluded parts of the world, and in general to listen to those for whom it was so difficult to get funds to travel to the big academic gatherings in America or Europe. In other terms, I hope the University of the future and its hybrid/online possibilities will create more diversity rather than a more homogenised global world.

November 2021: Hora Zabarjadi Sar

Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

After finishing my PhD in Australia in May 2020, I was informed about the upcoming opportunity of doing research with a focus on ‘belonging’ at the Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies. The call for application sounded completely fit to my research interest and my academic proficiency which is Phenomenology and Post-colonial Studies.

For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

While there is an unprecedented increase in the forceful displacements of people around the globe due to various environmental, political and social calamities, the notion of ‘belonging’ and ‘home’ have gained an inimitable attention by both the newcomers and the host communities/societies. Between different philosophical, sociological and political engagements with the phenomenon of displacement and its related issues, it seems that phenomenology holds an advantage point. Phenomenology as the rigorous science of experience, enables us to inquire into the conditions of possibility of having such experiences of ‘being at home’ and ‘belonging’.

You grew up in Iran and lived in Australia. How do you experience Germany on this background?

Moving to Germany is my third major intra-continent move and I still cannot claim that dealing with the experience of ‘leaving behind’, in any rate gets simpler or less challenging. Due to all these border crossings, I believe that the concept of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ gained new dimensions and importance for me. However, Germany provided me with a distinct perspective to engage with the phenomenon of ‘belonging to’ a community; CoF-CIIS is where I belong to the most.  

What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

Walking in Tübingen, you can wander about places that Hegel and Schelling once passed through, the breeze that gently brushed Hölderlin’s face, fills your lungs; you can tell the time looking at the clock designed by Johannes Kepler, located in the city centre. Then the natural beauty of the place; the surrounding charming villages to visit and Schönbuch natural park with its endless paths to walk- and merely allowing yourself to be enchanted by the magic of the forest.  

How does the university of the future look like?

With the development of social media the concept of teacher-student interaction surpassed far beyond the classroom where only certain authorised audience had the opportunity to participate in learning and knowledge production. Where some extraordinary events used to be exclusive to famous auditoriums of Ivy League, US, now one can attend unlimited lectures, given by great figures only from their room. Thus, if universities are going to be more than elegant and nostalgic lecture halls, they are to be performed as intersections of ideas, of languages, of cultures, of epistemologies. Instead of instructing teachers to be merely as knowledge transmitters, universities should cultivate them as facilitators who engage with endless ideas which are out there. Facilitation is not knowledge production, but it is creating opportunities, situations and spaces of productive encounters. The idea of interdisciplinarity only will be born out of the space of facilitation which leads to further knowledge production.