“Global History”: the Week of the Young Researcher in St. Petersburg

The Week of the Young Researcher was opened by Rector Kropachev (SPSU)

(23.10.2014) From 06 to 10 October 2014, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) organised the fourth “German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher” under the umbrella of the German House for Research and Innovation (DWIH Moscow). Over 60 doctoral researchers, postdoctoral researchers and professors from Germany and Russia discussed their research approaches to various regional studies at St. Petersburg State University under the heading of “Global History”. The week of events was organised in cooperation with the German Historical Institute (DHI Moscow), the Russian Foundation for the Humanities (RGNF) and the Council of Young Scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SMU RAN).

The Week of the Young Researcher, which took place within the framework of the official EU-Russia Year of Science, was opened by Rector Nikolay Kropachev during a ceremony held in the large assembly hall at St. Petersburg State University. Attendees were also welcomed by the university's pro-rectors and representatives of the Russian Foundation for the Humanities (RGNF). Heike Peitsch, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in St. Petersburg, Margaret Wintermantel, President of the DAAD, and Peter Funke, DFG Vice President, welcomed the audience on behalf of the German representatives. Martin Schulze Wessel, Chairman of the German Historical Association (DHV), then gave the introductory lecture.

Meeting in the Rector's Office. Nikolay Kropachev (SPSU), Margaret Wintermantel (DAAD), Peter Funke (DFG)

Meeting in the Rector's Office. Nikolay Kropachev (SPSU), Margaret Wintermantel (DAAD), Peter Funke (DFG)

The purpose of the Week of the Young Researcher conferences is to encourage wider networking and stronger partnerships among early career researchers. They incorporate interdisciplinary and forward-looking themes and key current issues in bilateral cooperation between Germany and Russia. In recent years, matters regarding life sciences, natural sciences and engineering sciences have been the focus. This year, issues from the field of the humanities were also incorporated into the mix. The combination of global history and regional studies provided an opportunity to contrast and analyse German and Russian approaches to topics such as imperial research.

Four regions – Europe, Asia, Africa and America – were covered in different panels in which the speakers discussed their papers. Established German and Russian historians gave opening presentations leading into the regional panels. They then moderated the short presentations and discussions by early career researchers. Martin Schulze Wessel (Central and Eastern European History, LMU Munich) was joined by German colleagues Nikolaus Katzer (Eastern European History, DHI Moscow), Sebastian Conrad (History of East Asia, FU Berlin), Klaus Mühlhahn (History of East Asia, FU Berlin) and Stefan Rinke (History of Latin America, FU Berlin). The specialist presentations were accompanied by a presentation on the research community in St. Petersburg, the programmes for early career researchers offered by the German and Russian funding organisations and a discussion group on the subject of “Early Career Support”.

For the DFG delegation consisting of Torsten Fischer, Programme Director of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jürgen Breitkopf, Programme Director of Research Careers, and Jörn Achterberg, Director of the DFG Office Russia, the aim of the Week of Science was to spark conversation with representatives of various higher education institutions and academy institutes in St. Petersburg. This resulted in opportunities for further bilateral cooperation being discussed with the Higher School of Economics (HSE), the State Polytechnical University and the Herzen University in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg has a population of just under 5 million and is considered the “northern capital” of Russia. It is one of the most important research centres in Europe. As the second largest Russian city, St. Petersburg is home to around 10% of the country's scientific potential with over 100 higher education institutions and 340,000 students. Saint Petersburg State University was founded as Russia's first university and higher education institution for science in 1724 by Peter the Great who also founded established the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences (now the Russian Academy of Sciences) in the same year. The State University has been closely cooperating with German researchers and research institutes since its establishment.