The RTG offers an interdisciplinary qualification program, focussing on individual projects, collective participation, and skills development. It has two main objectives: supporting doctoral researchers in timely thesis completion and preparing doctoral and post-doctoral researchers for future careers, academic or non-academic.
The program spans eight semesters and is tailored by the RTG’s steering committee. It provides structure through RTG-specific events, aligning methodological reflection, deepening research concerns, and promoting the presentation of findings.
Doctoral researchers are expected to complete their theses during this time. Postdocs serve as mediators between doctoral researchers and Principal Investigators (PIs). They design independent projects and engage in cluster projects to establish internationally recognized research profiles.
Guest researchers and Mercator fellows contribute to knowledge enrichment and networking through workshops, lectures, and conferences, aligning with the RTG’s events and study program elements.
For doctoral researchers international stays are encouraged during the third to sixth semesters for research, cross-cultural exchange, networking, and exploring international career opportunities. Comprehensive professional skills and career development training are offered through the collaboration with Goethe Research Academy for Early Career Researchers (GRADE).
The RTG starts with a two-day kick-off event where doctoral researchers, postdocs, student assistants and PIs meet and the members of the new cohort present the research topic, question, and mains theses of another member of the cohort.
The presentation is followed by a collective discussion of the key concepts and research areas of the research training group. The PIs will give short presentations on the guiding concepts and the three research areas, followed by discussions to establish connections, and evaluate their relevance for individual projects.
The RTG program includes four labs as part of its curriculum. The labs are essential and mandatory workshops lasting 2-3 days in the study program. Their aim is the exploration of methodological, theoretical, and empirical issues through the case study logic of STS.
The first lab, in the first semester, focuses on methodological issues, introducing qualitative research methods and refining project presentations. The second lab, in the subsequent semester, explores the conceptual framework and challenges of interdisciplinary research, emphasizing state-of-the-art conceptual developments and encouraging interdisciplinary discussions. The third lab addresses the challenges of accessing empirical fields of future-making, discussing research questions and approaches based on initial empirical materials. The fourth lab focuses on science communication and knowledge transfer, equipping doctoral researchers with practical techniques for effective outreach beyond academia. Led by practitioners, this lab addresses the challenges of communicating research findings to a wider audience.
The colloquium is a vital platform for doctoral researchers and postdocs to present project progress. It occurs each semester, except during retreats in the first and sixth semesters. The event also welcomes national and international guests to share and discuss leading research in science and technology studies. Attendance is mandatory for doctoral researchers, postdocs, and supervisors. Furthermore, potential doctoral students may be introduced to the program through university master’s degree colloquia.
The RTG offers studio courses to develop professional skills, with doctoral researchers required to attend at least four days per year. Half-day workshops cover academic skills, proposal writing, publication strategies, and more. GRADE provides additional workshops, networking events, and career development support for participants.
Two mandatory workshops include a „Get Started“ workshop in the first semester and research data management training in the first year. Peer support is available through self-organised working groups, and individual coaching sessions. Both doctoral and postdoctoral researchers can participate in up to five coaching sessions. Internship opportunities in policy development and science communication are also provided.
In the fifth and sixth semester, doctoral researchers will organize a lecture series on conceptual and empirical question. The series is supported by the PIs and complements the events organized by the LaSST network. It provides an opportunity for doctoral researchers to invite experts in STS to discuss their research. The lecture series, held bi-weekly, includes an author-meets-critics format where researchers can engage with invited scholars.
This exchange fosters interdisciplinary discourse within the RTG and inspires individual research projects. With guidance from PIs and postdocs, doctoral researchers are encouraged to co-edit an anthology or journal special issues on the lecture series‘ topics.
Self-Organised Working Groups and Cluster Projects
In addition to organizing the lecture series, doctoral researchers have the option to form self-organized working groups to facilitate peer exchange and support. These groups meet regularly, collaborate on projects, and can invite guest researchers for workshops and talks. GRADE Initiatives also provides funding for doctoral researchers to organize small conferences or research workshops.
For postdocs, two cluster projects during the second and third funding years offer the opportunity to carry out focused scholarly projects within the RTG’s thematic scope. These projects, supervised by the postdocs, promote knowledge transfer between doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and involve regular group work and thematic discussions.
Tutorials led by the postdocs, associated researchers, guests of the RTG, and Mercator fellows provide further learning opportunities and can result in publications, exhibitions, interviews, blogs, or international symposia.
The qualification program includes two three-day retreats at the end of the first and sixth semesters. They promote group dynamics, informal knowledge sharing, career discussions, and contribute to the advancement of research projects while enhancing knowledge transfer between cohorts, as the first cohort shares research results and the second cohort benefits from their experiences while presenting initial ideas.
In the eighth semester, a three-day closing conference is organized by the doctoral and postdoctoral researchers with support from the PIs. The conference features invited international experts in the field of STS, and the participants present their research findings to a wider academic audience and the public. This event also helps the doctoral researchers prepare for their PhD defence.