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ISRF-MPIWG Collaborative Fellowships in History of Knowledge

Independent Social Research Foundation

Eligible Applicants

The Indepe­­­ndent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) wish to support pairs of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds to conduct collaborative research.

Researchers may apply from across the social sciences and the humanities. Proposals should investigate original research ideas and specify potential applications to real world problems, on regional or global scales. Each pair of scholars would preferably combine historical with contemporary perspectives on the sources and effects of knowledge formations, in scientific, humanistic, economic, social, technological, or environmental domains. 

The awards are intended to provide a research stipend (to cover living costs plus reasonable research expenses) for a period of up to five months – with a core, mandatory period of four months commencing 1st March 2023 – for the purpose of working together on an interdisciplinary project, based in Berlin for the duration.

Only pairs of scholars are eligible to apply, and must apply together. Applicants will normally hold a full-time or part-time salaried position – which may be permanent or fixed-term – at an institution of higher education and research, though independent scholars are also eligible.

Each pair must represent two different disciplines and two different institutions. Applications from two countries or nationalities are also encouraged: one of the aims of this award is to facilitate collaboration across borders.

Eligible Research

Innovative research that breaks with existing disciplinary boundaries and explanatory frameworks. Applications are encouraged to address afresh empirical problems concerning the epistemologies and politics of knowledge formation in different historical and/or cultural contexts; they may focus on the uses of knowledge, its decline, and the plurality of its forms, and areas that have no currently adequate theory or investigative methodology. Innovation may also come from controversial theoretical approaches that pose a critical challenge to incumbent theories, discourses, or practices. Interdisciplinarity in the generation of new investigative initiatives may be achieved by combining, cross-fertilising, and transforming methods, approaches, and theoretical insights from the social sciences and the humanities. We welcome projects ranging across the breadth of the social scientific disciplines, the humanities, and related interdisciplinary research fields.

Duration & Timing

The awards are intended to provide a research stipend (to cover living costs plus reasonable research expenses) for a period of up to five months – with a core, mandatory period of four months from March to June 2023. Award recipients would be expected to relocate to Berlin for the duration of the award period, and submitted budgets should include costs of travel and accommodation (which may include dependents).

Scholars will be hosted in Dahlem, in close proximity to the main building of the MPIWG (Boltzmannstraße 18). This building is also home of the IMPRS-KIR, a new, research-based PhD programme dedicated to “Knowledge and Its Resources.” They will be granted access to the research facilities and infrastructures of the MPIWG (library and interlibrary loan service, IT, guest service). Each pair of scholars will be provided with a dedicated work space (one office with double occupancy). During their residence, Fellows will be expected to engage with relevant MPIWG events (in person/hybrid/virtual) and in the ongoing activities of the MPIWG’s partners in Berlin. Physical presence and intellectual commitment will be crucial to the overall success of this programme. 

The term will conclude with a two-day conference, hosted at the Max Planck Society’s Harnack-Haus, at which Fellows will present their work so far, in discussion with scholars from the Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and the MPIWG. 


Applications are expected for awards up to a maximum value of €40,000 per pair. Budgets should itemise planned expenditure, to cover accommodation and subsistence and reasonable research expenses.† Budgets which include teaching (and associated administrative) buy-out costs will be considered, but overheads must be limited to 10% of the total award amount. Budgets must conform with the rules and requirements of applicants’ home institutions, who will manage the award money and process expense reimbursements.

Additionally – and therefore not to be included in the budget – award recipients may be entitled to receive an honorarium†† for preparation and participation in the joint workshop at the end of the residency.

† Eligible research expenses will vary depending on the nature of the proposed project. They may include, but are not limited to: fieldwork, and associated travel, accommodation and subsistence; conference attendance, and associated travel, accommodation and subsistence; conference organisation costs, fees for invited speakers; interviews, and associated travel, accommodation and subsistence; transcription, translation, statistical analysis and other specialist services; dissemination costs (to be itemised); specialist equipment (where not provided by the Host Institution).

†† This honorarium is paid by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

For further information, Terms & Conditions of award, and to apply, visit

The closing date for applications is 5pm GMT on 28th January 2022.

Location: Berlin - Germany
Salary: Up to a maximum value of 40,000 Euros per pair
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 10th November 2021
Closes: 28th January 2022
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