Gerda Henkel Special Programme Security, Society and the State

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As security-related issues, the fading role of the state and the gradual elimination of borders are central themes in both political and scholarly debates today. "Failing states" as a safe haven for terrorists, transnational organized crime, a loss of overall legitimacy, shrinking state authority in conflict-ridden regions are the relevant keywords in this context.
There is good reason for a more fine-grained perspective, however. Current security issues are multi-faceted and dynamic, ranging from military protection to efficient public infrastructure and a viable social negotiation process. As a matter of fact, the state is not irrevocably losing ground in security-sensitive areas. In some areas of national and personal security, state authority and sound governmental practice are more important than ever.

The "Security, Society and the State" research programme reflects these contradictory trends. It targets new security-related issues that are prime examples of the post-Cold-War era but have been largely neglected in mainstream research. The programme is intended to encourage junior scholars to pursue unconventional research agendas that are nonetheless crucial, while providing senior scholars with the opportunity to focus intensively on work in progress for a limited period. Moreover, the objective is to combine basic theoretical research with concepts that are applicable to present-day political issues of security policy.

The Foundation's Board of Trustees decides on the applications on the basis of recommendation by an International Advisory Committee.

International Advisory Committee

Prof. Dr. J. Peter Burgess | Paris
Prof. Dr. Christopher Daase | Frankfurt/Main
Prof. Dr. Beatrice Heuser | Glasgow
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Seibel | Konstanz
Prof. Dr. I. William Zartman | Washington D.C.

The research programme addresses scholars of all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Types of funding include grants for research scholarships and research projects. PhD scholarships are only granted in connection with a research project. Research projects should be closely related to one or more of the five fields of research.

Topic Focuses

Challenges of new technologies

Traditionally security is regarded as a technical problem with primarily technological solutions: advanced weaponry, complex surveillance systems, and huge data bases seek to identify and neutralise threats in order to prevent them from becoming a reality. However, security technologies often have ambiguous consequences. Thus, new approaches see actors under threat as essentially involved both in the creation of their own insecurity and in its reduction or elimination.
Research proposals are invited on the relation between the security of societies and the technological measures that are implemented in order to assure it. Possible research topics will explore the links between the security of societies and states, and the technological innovations that impact both the threats they confront and their means to dealing with them: cyber-security, surveillance, biometric identification, information exchange, critical infrastructure protection, CBRN and bio-security, and crisis management, among others.

Public Policy and Human Security

The physical security of humans and objects is fostered by the public administration of order and the government provision of services. The loss of the state's monopoly on the legitimate use of force in relation to the military and the police does not automatically translate into a collapse of public order, as is illustrated by the provision of administrative and social services by armed groups in civil war societies. However, security gaps also occur in stable democracies with powerful governmental and administrative apparatuses due to political or economic counterincentives to effective control, a lack of inter-agency cooperation, or ignorance as regards warning signals. The "Public Policy and Human Security" research field is designed to promote research devoted to the performance or failure of public administration outside the military and law enforcement services in relation to the state's security-sensitive functions.

Patterns of Conflict Resolution between the State and Traditional Actors

Traditional civil society structures in crisis-ridden and post-conflict regions may exert either a facilitating or a restrictive influence on processes of conflict resolution and sustainable peace building. Whether the co-existence of democracy, autocracy and various types of traditional institutions such as chief systems or consensual systems foster or threaten peaceful civil life is a moot point. It makes a substantial difference as regards the re-stabilization of conflict-ridden regions whether the relationship between indigenous traditional and modern Western political institutions is regarded as tense, mutually paralyzing or possibly complementary. The "Conflict Resolution between the State and Traditional Actors" research field is designed to sponsor research that focuses on the interdependency of the two domains with the aim to develop realistic concepts of security policy.

Non-Governmental Actors as Partners and Contenders of the State

Governmental and non-governmental actors (including media) find themselves in an ambiguous relationship, often fraught with tension, when it comes to securing key functions of the state and its administrative infrastructure. On the one hand, as agenda setters non-governmental actors have become serious competitors of nation states and their governments even at the international level. On the other, they also may act as vital sponsors of security provision in areas such as human rights protection, migration policy or the containment of intra-state violence and post-civil-war reconstruction in lieu of a governmental agency unable or unwilling to assume responsibility. By contrast to governmental actors, however, non-governmental actors are exposed to incentives to 'stay in business' as experienced conflict managers. The "Non-Governmental Actors as Partners and Contenders of the State" research field is designed to promote research focusing on the interaction of the productive and the precarious side of security-sensitive activities of non-governmental actors.

Security and Communication Strategies between Doctrine Formation and Implementation

The gap between strategic principles and their implementation is a notorious problem in security policy. While current scholarly and political debates focus extensively on the interpenetration of international and domestic security issues as well as the insufficient implementation of related policies within the framework of multi-lateral arrangements and national security doctrines, the degree to which such doctrine formation is appropriate tends to get neglected. What characterizes the interlinkages of "internal" and "external" security and how they vary internationally is as much a moot question as is how processes of doctrine formation actually evolve and how mutual learning among various schools of thought is organized. The "Security and Communciation Strategies between Doctrine Formation and Implementation" research field is designed to promote research targeting the ambiguous nature of the linkages of international and domestic security and the resulting doctrine formation in and its interaction with the practice of security policy.



The Foundation generally accepts applications for research projects made by universities, other research institutes or comparable institutions as well as by one or several Postdocs or scholars with Post Doctoral Lecture Qualification.

The grants for research projects involve, depending on the type of project, the assumption of costs for personnel, travel, materials and/or other costs.

The applicants must be actively involved in the research work of the project.

Project staff on research projects may only be financed by PhD or research grants. A fundamental prerequisite for a grant is that project staff conduct their own research, which is published under their name. The simultaneous receipt of salary or retirement pension and a research scholarship is not possible. The period of support for Foundation stipend holders working on Ph.D. or research projects can be extended by up to 12 months if the holder becomes a parent during the period covered by the stipend and has an entitlement to maternity or parental leave. Individual arrangements must be discussed with the Foundation’s administrative office.

As part of a research project, the costs incurred of visiting (foreign) scholars can also be financed. By contrast, a research scholarship should be applied for by one scholar alone for a project that he conducts himself.

Application Documents

From now on, it is only possible to apply electronically. The necessary application documents can be uploaded in the electronic application form.

Proposals will only be accepted in English language and should include:

  • description of the research proposal (max. 8 pages)
    • plus bibliography if necessary (in addition to the max. 8 pages)
    • documents printed on one side only, at least font size 11 and line spacing 1.5
    • please choose a readable font, e.g. Arial 11 pt. or Times New Roman 12 pt. (We kindly ask you to keep to the formal requirements on how to compile application documents)
  • work plan and time schedule, travel itinerary (if needed)
  • detailed cost calculation
    • specific funds being applied for must be precisely defined
    • no college or tuition fees
    • no overhead costs
  • curriculum vitae and list of publications of the applicant(s)
  • if needed, curriculum vitae and list of publications of the proposed project participant(s)
  • if needed, academic certificates of the project participant(s) (Masters, PhD, professorship, etc.; please do not send Bachelor certificates)

If also a scholarship for the applicant is planned:

  • academic certificates of the applicant (Masters, PhD, professorship, etc.; please do not send Bachelor certificates)

Please do not additionally send the documents by email or postal mail.


PhD Scholarships

Monthly scholarship award: 1.600 euros

•    for one child: EUR 400
•    each further child: EUR 100

The family grant is awarded for children who have not yet turned 18.

Monthly endowment for scholarships abroad: 400,- euros

Travel aid: as required
Material aid: as required

Research Scholarships for Postdocs

Monthly scholarship award: 2,300 euros

•    for one child: EUR 400
•    each further child: EUR 100

The family grant is awarded for children who have not yet turned 18.

Monthly endowment for scholarships abroad: 575 euros

Travel aid: as required
Material aid: as required

Research Scholarships after Post Doctoral Lecture Qualification

Monthly scholarship award: 3,100 euros

As equivalent to the German Habilitation the Foundation accepts positions as „Associate Professor“ or „Full Professor“ / „Distinguished Professor“ (according to the North American university system) and „Senior Lecturer“ or „Reader“/„Professor“ (according to the Commonwealth university system), respectively.

•    for one child: EUR 400
•    each further child: EUR 100

The family grant is awarded for children who have not yet turned 18.

Monthly endowment for scholarships abroad: 775 euros

Travel aid: as required
Material aid: as required

Important note on submitting applications

Please take a look at the information provided in this section and under General References. We would of course be happy to assist you should you have any further questions.

Contact Person Special Programme Security, Society and the State

Thomas Podranski, M.A.
Head of Research Scholarships and Special Programmes

Date de candidature
1-24 months
Sciences sociales