Oberseminar, 2019

Graduate Programme "Religion Conflict Reconciliation"​ (RCR)

Oberseminar, 2019
Image: jcrs

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

Graduate programme "Religion Conflict Reconciliation" (RCR) Show content

RCR studies conflict resolution and reconciliation processes and strategies with a focus on comparative analyses and best practices.  The university context offers opportunities to integrate theoretical and practical approaches. RCR programme is research oriented and values projects that span academic disciplines utilizing the full spectrum of qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

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.

The JCRS approach to reconciliation studies, anchored by Prof. Martin Leiner's Hölderlin Perspective, respects 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 ("Oberseminar") has this knowledge/praxis attainment as one of its key goals.

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, with activies like international conferences, research projects, activities with civil society and NGOs, field-research trips, meetings with research partners, and so on.

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, plural and tolerant environment for all faiths and traditions; Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Free Churches, Buddhists, Agnostics, and Atheists.


Oberseminar Show content

RCR doctoral candidates actively engage in a collegial seminar ("Oberseminar") that provides opportunities for transdisciplinary interaction and learning. The Oberseminar gives doctoral and post-doctoral students the opportunity to present their work and to engage in constructive dialogue. Various fields of study are involved: Religious studies, Social psychology, Ethics, History, Political science, Philosophy, etc. The topics include various models of reconciliation and conflict transformation, non-judicial mechanisms like Truth Commissions, and the ethical, religious and psychological dimensions of reconciliation. The first Graduate Seminar "Oberseminar" took place in the WS 2013/14. 

As a research platform for international colleagues maintained with a common English, the Graduate Seminar takes place weekly during semester time, with digital sessions (via zoom) as well as in presence.

How to apply to RCR Show content

There are no limitations regarding specific MA degrees as prerequisite to apply to RCR 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. Ferrari 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...

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 hypothesis.

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.

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.

The RCR has a "rolling admissions" policy: Projects might be submitted at any time.

With possessions of a research-oriented MA degree it is expected that a PhD programme should be completed in six semesters - thus 3 years. Extensions may be provided with justification.

Further information Show content

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.

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. Zoom-calls and teleteaching possibilities (offered by the Multimedia Center of FSU Jena) are common procedures at RCR.

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.

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, though they often entail bureaucratic burdens and should be started at beginning of doctoral work.

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. Exchange opportunities are available through agreements with JCRS' network.


If you need further information about RCR, please contact

Dr. Davide Tacchini at davide.tacchini@uni-jena.de 

Dr. Francesco Ferrari at francesco.ferrari@uni-jena.de

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