Graduate Programme

Religion-Conflict-Reconciliation

FSU-Jena Doctoral programme "Religion-Conflict-Reconciliation" (RCR)


The new programme "Religion-Conflict-Reconciliaion" is the first of its  kind in Germany. Having started in April 2015 for FSU Jena doctoral students, the RCR is located institutionally at the university's Graduate Academy (GA) and is closely linked with the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (JCRS).

RCR studies conflict resolution and reconciliation processes and strategies with a focus on comparative analyses and best practices. Reconciliation approaches offer hope to present situations characterized by persisting violence and tensions fuelled by religious ideologies. RCR members strive to learn from recent successes with academic disciplines at the service of practical aims. The university context offers opportunities to integrate theoretical, practical and pedagogical approaches. RCR programme is research  oriented and values projects that span academic disciplines utilizing the full spectrum of qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

Exchange opportunities are available through agreements with JCRS network on three levels:
  • At FSU-Jena: Within faculties of Theology, Social Psychology, Ethics, Economy, Law.
  • National Research Working Group on Reconciliation Studies: Europe-University Flensburg und Halle University.
  • International: Irish School of Ecumenics in Dublin/Belfast; Tel Aviv University (Israel); AICGAS Johns Hopkins University; Excellence School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, Washington; Wasatia (Palestine); Peace Institute of Myanmar; Doshisha University Kyoto (Japan); Beyers Naude Center for Public Theology at Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Charles Sturt University (Australia); Asia Center for Reconciliation Studies (ACRS) at Seoul Theological University; Sung Kong Hoe University, Seoul (South Korea); Alberto Hurtado University (Santiago, Chile); Universidad de Antioquia (Medellin, Colombia); University of Petra (Amman, Jordan).
Currently 3 postdocs and more than 10 doctoral students are enrolled. Some ae affiliated with the DFG Israeli-Palestinian-German trilateral research project "Hearts of Flesh - Not Stone".


The doctoral school is coordinated by Dr. Francesco Ferrari ().





Important Programme Information in FAQ form:

What is the meaning of the title "Religion-Conflict-Reconciliation"?
The doctoral programme engages three basic elements: religion, conflict and recociliation (RCR). Doctoral candidates write dissertations focusing on at least two of the three elements. For instance, a mainly theological dissertation must include a second focus on either conflict or reconciliation; a political science dissertation can integrate conflict and reconciliation with less focus on religion.

What is the role of transdisciplinarity in RCR?
The "Jenaa Approach" to reconciliation studies, anchored by Prof. Martin Leiner's Hölderlin Perspective, resprects the deeply complex social phenomena relevant to conflict and reconciliation. The transdiciplinary approach requires deep understanding of multiple disciplines - their basic theories, methodologies, and state-of-the-art findings. The graduate seminar has this knowledge/praxis attainment as one of several intentional goals. Doctoral candidates actively engage in collegial seminars that provide opportunities for transdisciplinary interaction and learning. Additionally candidates write dissertations within specific chosen discipline and are therefore bound by the requirements of that discipline even as they benefit from dialogue with transdisciplinary research fields.

What is the relationship between RCR and JCRS; and between RCR and the Theological Faculty?
RCR is a FSU-Jena programme that provides institutional structure and support for candidates pursuing doctoral degrees in fields relevant to reconciliation. The JCRS, also led by Prof. Martin Leiner, is a university center dedicated to research and activities that promote reconciliation. The JCRS has a broader portfolio, but activies like international conferences, research projects, activities with civil society and NGOs, field-research trips, meetings with research partners, and so on.
For further reading on the Jena Approach to reconciliation, see:
  • Flämig, S. & Leiner, M. (2012). Reconciliation in the MIddle of Dispute. Introduction to the Series. In: Flämig, S. & Leiner, M. (2012). Societies in Transition. Latin America between Conflict and Reconciliation. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. S. 7-9.
  • O'Malley, M. (2017). Jena Approach: Principles and Priorities for Reconciliation Studies. In: O'Malley, M., Leiner, M., Summe, D. & Knoepffler, N. (2017). Thüringen: Bracuht das Land Versöhnung? Kritisches Jahrbuch der Philosophie 17. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. S.111-151. https://www.academia.edu/33856880
RCR and JCRS are both institutionally based at FSU-Jena's Theological Faculty. But doctoral candidates are not required to have academic credentials in theology. Both RCR and JCRS insure complete freedom for religious and political affiliation. We foster a welcoming and tolerant environment for all faiths and traditions; Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Free Churches, Buddhists, Agnostics, and Atheists.

Which MA degree do I need? What kind of PhD is conferred?
There are no limitations regarding specific MA degrees as pre-requisite for doctoral programme. Each candidate for degree brings unique sets of skills, experience and learning, and thus each candidates's application is evaluated individually. International MAs are evaluated based upon ECTS equivalence by respective faculties. Doctoral candidates are invited to contact Prof. Leiner and Dr. Ferrare and to submit a research project draft (about 5 pages, see below), as well as an academic CV. Once contact has been established, candidates will be advised regarding RCR affiliated professors and disciplines. PhDs are conferred according to German standards such as Dr. phil., Dr. theol., Dr. iur., Dr. rer. nat., Dr. oec...

How should I write my 5-page-draft?
The draft presents your desired research project to RCR director and coordinator. Clarity and conciseness are important here! Please follow the format suggested here:
1. Formulate a research question and suggest a potential research hyypothesis.
2. Present summarized survey of relevant state-of-the-art research with bibliography.
3. Describe intended methodology (e.g. discourse analysis, conceptual history, qualitative fiel research, quantitative field research, media content analysis, historical-critical exegesis, hermeneutics, interpretation of legal text, comparative case-studies, best practices, interviews, psychological experiments, big data ...). Cite books and articles that present such methodology/ies (e.g. Klaus Krippendorf, Content Analysis, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, California, 2013)
4. Propose a schedule of activities for PhD development; include number of semesters and, if applicable, length of external-research stays.
5. Include other relevant information important for evaluating your draft.

When can I apply?
The RCR has a "rolling admissions" policy: Projects might be submitted at any time.

How much time does a PhD take?
With possessions of a research-oriented MA degree it iss expected that a PhD programme should be completed in six semesters - thus 3 years. Extensions may be provided with justification.

Which language is necessary for RCR?
A common research platform for international colleagues is maintained with a common English. The Graduate Seminar which takes place weekly during semester time is in English. Considering that language is not merely a tool but a direct expression of thought and creativity, PhD dissertations may be written in: English, German, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish. Other languages are also possible. Your supervisor and the faculty must in any case agree if you write in a language which is not German.

Do I have to stay in Jena during my PhD time?
It is not mandatory to live in Jena the whole time of your PhD and individual programmes will be developed together with doctoral advisors. However, we strongly recommend at least one semester in Jena to establish working relationships within RCR and JCRS. You are also invited to give two classes during your PhD time (in German or English) as well as to follow courses delivered by the GA. Courses are very helpful for different goals: How  to write a scientific paper; how to apply for a grant; how to write a research project; good scientific practice and so on. Skype-calls and teleteaching possibilities (offered by the Multimedia Center of FSU Jena) are common procedures at RCR.

Is funding available?
Some projecs of JCRS like the trilateral project "Hearts of Flesh - Not Stone" provide funding to PhD students and post-docs. Usually, however, doctoral candidates apply for their own funding. In Germany several foundations (Stiftungen) accept applications. RCR and staff GA are very willing to support doctoral candidates in finding and writing grants. Non-German PhD students have good chances for DAAD funding.

May I write my dissertation in cooperation with other institutions or universities?
RCR welcomes cooperation with other institutions including but not limited to JCRS' many international partners. Cotutelle agreements (joint supervision) and joint degrees may be possible, thoughthey often entail bureaucratic burdens ans should be started at beginning of doctoral work.

Are there university costs?
The university does not charge tuition though there may be some administrative costs associated with achieving degree. You are entitled to request a Thoska-card which gives access to libraries, copy machines and free public transport within state of Thuringia.

Does RCR welcome postdocs, visiting scholars and visting professors?
Absolutely yes! Dr. Phillip Tolliday (Charles Sturt University) joined RCR during SS 2016; Dr. Christo Thesnaar (Stellenbosch University) joined RCR during WS 2017/18.