New International Max Planck Research School to Focus on the History of Knowledge and Resources


A new International Max Planck Research School on “Knowledge and Its Resources: Historical Reciprocities” (IMPRS-KIR) is to open at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in 2022. It aims to train PhD students in the history and philosophy of science, technology, and medicine (HPSTM) in the analysis of knowledge, its resources, and the multiple interplays between the two categories. The graduate school is a joint project of the MPIWG with the Berlin’s Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität, and Technische Universität as part of the Berlin Center for the History of Knowledge.

The IMPRS-KIR School will fund a total of 15 doctoral positions, with the first cohort of five students to begin on September 1, 2022. "Key to the School’s teaching agenda will be historical-political epistemology, an approach highlighting how knowledge is formed historically and where political systems, technological infrastructures, and social interaction are shown to shape the resource economics of knowledge cultures. A call for applications for the PhD positions will be made in fall 2021.

Dissertations will reshape the field of history of knowledge at the intersections of HPSTM with regional and global studies, media studies, art history, literary studies, environmental studies, and digital humanities research. Students will be trained to apply innovative methodologies to their research and will become experts who can bring a much-needed comparative perspective, reflection, and historical depth to the shaping and sustaining of knowledge societies around the globe, within a wide spectrum of occupational fields including journalism, social media, art, museum and archive curatorship, and science and education policy.

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“For the first time in the field of history of science and history of knowledge, a comprehensive curriculum has been designed to teach graduate students from various disciplines to enhance our understanding of the interplay of resources and knowledge,” says Prof. Dr Dagmar Schäfer, MPIWG Executive Director and IMPRS Speaker. “Our new school will affect how historians think about present challenges in our society and what they can contribute to understand these challenges on a global scale.”

A New Cooperation for the Berlin Center for the History of Knowledge

The IMPRS-KIR further strengthens the work of the Berlin Center for the History of Knowledge, a cooperation between the MPIWG and Berlin universities (Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universtät, and Technische Universität) that opened in 2011. Taking into account current research in the history of science and other humanities and natural sciences disciplines, the IMPRS-KIR will further develop the Berlin Center’s goal of creating a long-term base and close network for the history of knowledge as a discipline in teaching and research.

Principal IMPRS-KIR Teaching Faculty

The teaching faculty for the new IMPRS-KIR consists of professors of all Berlin universities and bringing for the first time together their expertise from disciplines such as art history, history of science and technology, media studies, archeology, and sinology. Its members are: Prof. Dr. Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum (FU), Prof. Dr. Peter Geimer (FU), Prof. Dr. Anke te Heesen (HU), Prof. Dr. Christine von Oertzen (MPIWG/HU, Co-Speaker), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Renn (MPIWG/FU), Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schäfer (MPIWG/TU, Speaker), Prof. Dr. Friedrich Steinle (TU), Prof. Dr. Viktoria Tkaczyk (HU, Co-Speaker for Universities, first year), and Prof. Dr. Heike Weber (TU).

Collaboration with International Partner Universities

As well as serving as a cooperation between the Berlin universities, the IMPRS-KIR will operate with partner insitutes across the world including the University of Pennsylvania (Department of History and Sociology of Science), and the Singapore STS Consortium consisting of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS), and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).


Further information on the MPIWG website: