Double success for Leipzig University

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Another great success for Leipzig in supporting early career researchers: the German Research Foundation (DFG) announced today (8 November) that two new Research Training Groups with more than 60 doctoral researchers will be funded from 2024. The International Research Training Group "Belongings: Jewish Material Culture in Twentieth-Century Europe and Beyond" will centre on research into Jewish material culture in the modern era. And in the "ECO-N" Research Training Group, led by Professor Martin Quaas of Leipzig University, doctoral researchers in the fields of economics and management science, the natural and life sciences will investigate sustainable concepts for the use of natural common goods.

"We are extremely proud and delighted to have been awarded funding for both Research Training Groups. This is a significant achievement for the development of talent at our university. It is a testament to our commitment to research excellence and interdisciplinary collaboration. Especially in light of the attack on Israel by Hamas on 7 October, it is an important sign that we are continuing to research the role and function of objects in modern Jewish history together with the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture - Simon Dubnow. And with its focus on sustainable concepts for the use of natural common goods, the second Research Training Group is a major building block in our application for a proposed Cluster of Excellence," said Professor Eva InÚs Obergfell, Rector of Leipzig University, on the day of the DFG’s announcement.

Strengthening Jewish Studies in Leipzig

The Research Training Group will be led by Prof. Yfaat Weiss, Director of the Dubnow Institute in Leipzig, together with Prof. Benjamin Pollock at the Faculty of Humanities of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It will enable doctoral candidates to pursue a scholarly degree in both locations and foster the establishment of transnational networks. Beginning in August 2024, 22 doctoral candidates and two postdocs will work together in two cohorts in Jerusalem and Leipzig in a structured program, during which they will be co-supervised by professors from both universities. This will lead to a visible strengthening of Jewish studies at German institutes of higher education, particularly in Leipzig. The planned program includes a comprehensive qualification as well as the acquisition of Jewish languages. The doctoral candidates will also be introduced to the work of museums,

Second Research Training Group investigates sustainable concepts for the use of natural common goods

Air pollution, species loss, overfishing - the list of challenges to sustainable development is long. In most cases, it is people who have overexploited natural resources for economic gain: they have overfished the oceans, crowded out insects through unbalanced agricultural practices and polluted the air with industrial emissions. Some of these undesirable developments have already been partially reversed, but in some cases new problems have arisen. The new Research Training Group, Economics of Connected Natural Commons (ECO-N), will explore these complex interactions between economic demands, human behaviour and natural resources.

From 1 April 2024 until 2029, 42 doctoral researchers will develop an integrative perspective on the sustainable use of natural commons in the areas of atmosphere and biodiversity. In interdisciplinary collaborative projects, they will develop a shared, overarching understanding of the interaction between economic activity and natural dynamics. "On this basis, and by synthesising many forms of management of natural commons, we aim to propose instruments and mechanisms for the sustainable use of natural commons," says Professor Martin Quaas, spokesperson of the Research Training Group and a scientist at Leipzig University and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). "This new RTG is also an important milestone for us on the way to a potential Cluster of Excellence, called Breathing Nature, for which we submitted a draft proposal at the end of May as part of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments," adds Professor Johannes Quaas, a meteorologist at Leipzig University and designated spokesperson for the proposed Cluster of Excellence.

ECO-N is a response to the growing demand in research, government and practice for academically qualified specialists who are capable of analysing difficult sustainability problems across sectors and disciplines. The new Research Training Group combines the expertise of the Faculty of Economics and Management Science, the Faculty of Physics and Earth System Sciences and the Faculty of Life Sciences at Leipzig University. Also involved are iDiv and the non-university research institutions Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) and the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ).

Dr. Katarina Werneburg/Dr. Julia Roos