By Dina Marie Delias (Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology), Department of Sociology
The Berlin Summer School is an intensive two-week program organised by the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS) at the Humboldt- Universitat zu Berlin and the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB). It is intended to be a venue for discussion between and among young and senior scholars, so the former can develop an even deeper understanding of the linkage of theory and empirical research. It’s pretty selective in choosing participants, and they look for research topics that can fall under the themes of Democracy and Democratisation, Social Inequality and Welfare, Civil Society, and Politics, Economy and Society in a Globalising World.
In this year’s summer school (July 15 – 27, 2012), there was a mix of big lectures, small group discussions, one-on-one consultations with senior professors, poster presentations and dialogues between the 30 participants from universities around the world. The first week involved lectures and/or debates between senior academics including Donatella della Porta and Ronald Inglehart on “Concepts as Building Blocks of Theory”, Peter Bearman and Craig Calhoun on “Linking Micro- and Macro- Perspectives”, Delia Baldassari and Henry Bradly on “Causation and Explanation in the Social Sciences”, Mark Bevir on “Epistemological Implications of Methodological Paradigms”, and the insightful keynote- lecture from Prof.Dr.rer.soc. Klaus Eder. These were apart from the more intensive theme-based lectures and small- group discussions on the second week. The program made sure that each of the participants would have the chance not only to talk about their research but also receive substantial feedback.
It was also a great bonus that the Summer School was in Berlin where you are surrounded by so much history that reminds you of the best and the worst that humanity can do. After the hard work put into the presentations and discussions, participants would be hard-pressed in choosing where to visit in order to know the city and its stories further, or to just sit back and take a break.