BIGSSS Summer Schools Archive

In previous years BIGSSS hosted summer schools on:

  • 2017: Interest Group Politics
  • 2017: Social Cohesion in a World of Increasing Diversity
  • 2016: Intergroup Conflict and Its Resolution - the Case of Ukraine
  • 2015: The Welfare State and Inequality
  • 2014: Interventions


Interest Group Politics

June 29th - July 7th, 2017 | ECPR Summer School

The summer school on “8th ECPR Interest Group Politics” took place from June 29th until July 7th at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS). 14 participants - two research master students & twelve PhD students – from twelve universities and eight different countries participated in the program.

The six morning sessions of the event were dealing with different aspects of interest group organization and interest group lobbying in modern policy making (lobbying ressources and strategies, interest group populations and mobilization; professionalization of interest groups; influence of interest groups; interest groups in EU multilevel politics; public opinion and interest group mobilization), while in the afternoon we were covering research designs that allow empirical investigations of these aspects (sampling strategies; identification of group populations; quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews; quantitative text analysis; comparative case studies; social media data). During a second afternoon session, participants presented their own research and research proposals which were then discussed by faculty and participants.

On one morning we had a panel discussion with three interest group representatives working – or having worked for groups active in different sectors. Dr. Marzena Kloka-Kohnen shared her experience as employee of the German steel industry federation, while Stefan Oeltjenbruns shared his insights as vice-chairman of the Airbus works council and active member of the German metal workers union (IG Metall). Agnes Tkotz provided us with insights from the work of the internationally active public interest group Human Rights Watch. On the afternoon of that same day we had a tour of Bremen’s historic center and the historic town hall and used the time at a local bowling center to relax and chat.

Based on the feedback we received from the participants also during the social dinner during the penultimate evening of the event, the summer school was a great success. The BIGSSS provided an excellent infrastructure (and experience from previous summer schools), the academic program was very well received and so were the individual lectures as well as the feedback sessions on participants’ research and research proposals.

The summer school was convened by Dr. Arndt Wonka (BIGSSS/University of Bremen) and Prof. Anne Rasmussen (Copenhagen University), who also headed a one-day session each, and organized by Arndt Wonka. The following colleagues joined us to work with the participants during one day of our academic program: Dr. Marcel Hanegraaff (University of Amsterdam), Prof. William Maloney (Newcastle University), Prof. Dr. Heike Klüver (Humboldt-University Berlin), Prof. Dr. Rainer Eising (Ruhr-University Bochum), Dr. Bert Fraussen (Leiden University).        


Social Cohesion in a World of Increasing Diversity

June 25 - July 1, 2017 | in cooperation with Bertelsmann Stiftung

From June 25 until July 1, 2017 17 Master and PhD students from all over the world took part in a joint summer school on “Social Cohesion in a World of Increasing Diversity” organized by BIGSSS and Bertelsmann Stiftung.

The focus of this year’s summer school was on the interplay between social cohesion and cultural, ethnic, and religious plurality in times of societal transformations and increasing migration flows around the globe.

During the seven days of the summer school, participants had the opportunity to assess and discuss the impact of socio-structural, institutional, political as well as individual factors on social cohesion at different levels of societal organization. The summer school was structured around (1) presentations and discussions of participants’ own research projects and (2) presentations by guest lectures. In addition to our BIGSSS faculty members, international scholars were invited to participate in the program: Prof. Dr. Claire Wallace (University of Aberdeen), Dr. Germ Janmaat (University College London), Dr. Damir Esenaliev (SIPRI), Prof. Dr. Peter Schmidt (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen) and Prof. Dr. Jan Delhey (Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg). This allowed participants to experience a stimulating scientific environment that offered them the opportunity to actively engage in discussions with a multidisciplinary international and Bremen faculty as well as other MA and PhD students working on similar issues.

In addition to the academic part, two field trips were part of the program to get a hands-on experience of the topic. The first excursion was to a refugee camp in Bremen-Schönebeck. The second excursion was a neighborhood tour through Bremen Gröpelingen.

The highlight of the summer school was the public panel discussion with invited guests from politics, media, and science. Among the guests were Dr. Kai Unzicker (Senior Project Manager, Bertelsmann Stiftung), Silke Hellwig (Chief Editor, Weser Kurier), Jan Fries (State Council, Bremen) und Prof. Dr. Klaus Boehnke (Vice Dean, BIGSSS).

Watch the BIGSSS-Bertelsmann Summer School film on Social Cohesion in a World of Increasing Diversity on Youtube!


Intergroup Conflict and Its Resolution - the Case of Ukraine

June 27-July 2, 2016 | in coopertation with DAAD

From June 27th until July 2nd, BIGSSS hosted this year's Summer School on "Intergoup Conflict and Its Resolution - The Case of Ukraine" at Jacobs University Campus.

The Summer School is a joint initiative between Kiev’s Institute of International Relations (Taras Shevchenko University), Bremen’s Research Centre for East European Studies and BIGSSS. The BIGSSS Summer School 2016 was fully funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).

During the six-day Summer School program, 20 young social science scholars from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Turkey and Ukraine had the chance to meet face-to-face, to network, and to participate in academic exchange on their research projects under the guidance of our experienced Summer School faculty and external experts.

As in previous years, the summer school program was structured around the core elements of (1) presentations by guest lecturers followed by discussions and (2) presentations and discussion of participants‘ own projects. Participants benefited from exceptional academic conditions: they enjoyed a rare multidisciplinary get-together of political scientists, sociologists, and historians with psychologists who work on intergroup conflict and are typically not part of the academic discourse on the violence in the Donbas region. The Summer School thus aimed at generating a better understanding of the Ukrainian conflict as well as Ukrainian society and politics at large, and at deepening the participants' insight into the complexity of intergroup conflicts and their resolution.

Besides the BIGSSS faculty members who chaired the group sessions in which participants presented their own projects, renowned guest speakers inspired the participants with insights into their own works: Viktor Konstantynov (IIR, Kyiv, Ukraine), James J. Liu (Massey University Auckland, New Zealand), Thomas Leithäuser (University of Bremen, Germany), Andreas Heinemann-Grüder (University of Bonn, Germany), Karina C. Korostelina (George Mason University, Washington DC, USA).


The Welfare State and Inequality

June 30-July 10, 2015 | in cooperation with Volkswagen Stiftung & DAAD

In 2015, BIGSSS and ZeS hosted the Summer School on "The Welfare State and Inequality – Europe in the 21st Century". The summer school was part of the European Campus of Excellence program. It was co-funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Mercator Foundation. The aim of the ECE Summer School was to support young social scientists by opening a cross-border dialogue on current theoretical questions and methodological approaches to questions of inequality in European welfare states in the 21st century.

In the course of the 20th century the welfare state became a crucial structural feature for Europe’s modern democratic societies. Its social policies not only cushioned, compensated, and counteracted all kinds of social risks but also advanced societal integration and provided for people’s participation to a degree hitherto unknown. Yet, this welfare state expansion rested upon economic, social, and political conditions which have profoundly changed over the last decades. Three aspects, in particular, are of utmost importance for successfully dealing with these welfare state challenges and thus constituted the core topics of the ECE summer school 2015:


During the 10 days of the summer school program, an international and academically excellent group of 30 advanced M.A. and Ph.D. students (from the USA, South Korea, Chile, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Austria, Finland, Greece, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands) with a social science background discussed these issues with renowned scholars of the field. As in 2014, the summer school program was structured around three core elements: (1) presentations by guest lecturers, (2) discussions of selected key readings with the guest lecturers, (3) presentations and discussion of participants‘ own projects. Participants benefited from exceptional academic conditions: they enjoyed the stimulating environment of a multidisciplinary and international community of first rate scholars in the close environment of a graduate school. Besides discussing their own research projects they got in contact and networked with an outstanding faculty and met an international body of bright M.A. and Ph.D. students working in similar research fields.

Besides the BIGSSS and ZeS faculty members who chaired the group sessions in which participants presented their own projects, renowned guest speakers inspired the participants with insights into their own works: Gösta Esping-Andersen (Barcelona), Mike Savage, (London), Giuliano Bonoli (Lausanne), Colin Crouch (Warwick), Steffen Mau (Berlin), Richard Hauser (Frankfurt a. Main), Anton Hemerijck, (Amsterdam), Michelle Jackson (Stanford), Bruno Palier (Paris), Karen Anderson (Southampton); Angela M. O'Rand (Durham), Elke Heins (Edinburgh), Daniel Clegg (Edinburgh).

For more impressions view our ECE Summer School Kick-Off ECE Summer School Kick-Off Film:





July 8-11, 2014

The first BIGSSS summer school on "Interventions" was an occasion for 18 advanced M.A. students and Ph.D. candidates from international universities to intensely discuss their work on interventions with a group of international scholars:

Since the 1990s the theory and the practice of intervention have become some of the most heatedly debated topics (not only) in the field of International Relations. The term ‘intervention’ was understood in its broadest sense and also addressed projects in the neighboring fields of development policy and social policy. Applicants of the major disciplines of the Social Sciences were asked to relate their projects to the following three sections:

    Interventions are intentional actions that try to influence other actors’ behavior. Interventions are in any case based on claims of authority by the intervener. But how are these claims constructed? What are the bases and limits of claims, when is authority acknowledged, when is it refused?
    Interventions can be understood as large-scale policies that aim at transformations in social and organizational spaces. Since the 19th century, reforms have been known as one major form of such actions to transform societies at large or in particular organizational realms of it. Attempts to modernize states or the creation of welfare systems can be seen in that light. What are comparative lessons of these forms of interventions? What can we learn from these huge experiments for the contemporary discussion on interventions?
    Interventions consist of discourses and practices by which actors attempt to exert power. Even in unsuccessful cases, power is exerted by all parties involved. What forms of power can we distinguish here? What sort of conflicts result from clashing power games or non-coordinated actions? And what are the results of such conflicts?

The Interventions summer school faculty consisted of: Michael N. Barnett (George Washington University), Bai Gao (Duke University), Evelyne Huber (UNC Chapel Hill), Peter Mayer (University of Bremen), Joel S. Migdal (University of Washington), Herbert Obinger (University of Bremen), Ingo Rohlfing (BIGSSS), Dominic Sachsenmaier (Jacobs University), Klaus Schlichte (BIGSSS), Chris Winship (Harvard) and Arndt Wonka (BIGSSS)