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    Forum that transgresses disciplinary boundaries


    Plans to set up a Graduate School of Law, Economics and Society (GSLES) were first conceived three years ago. These came to fruition last week with the official opening of the Graduate School. Doctoral students from three of the University of Würzburg’s faculties will receive mentoring there while they work toward their doctorates.

    “Governance in the Context of European and Global Competition”: this is the focus of the University of Würzburg’s new Graduate School. Governance – this concept is explained by the Dean of the new Graduate School, Professor Ralf P. Schenke, as follows: “It is about diverse control systems, which we find at all levels of political, social, and economic entities, from governments to private organizations.” Schenke goes on to say that to understand these and, moreover, to develop suggestions for ways of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of these entities, an isolated legal, economic, or political science perspective is not enough. Instead, these disciplines need to interact.

    In six subject areas, doctoral students will approach these systems from different angles. Issues tackled will relate, for example, to labor law, the tax system, company organization, and the international economic order. Globalization, competition, and the governance of the Internet will also be at the heart of the research.

    The keynote lecture at the opening ceremony last Tuesday was given by Professor Christoph Engel, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods (Bonn). His talk entitled “Governance by Law - Die verkannten Steuerungsleistungen des Rechts” (Governance by Law – The Little Known Service to Governance Provided by Law) looked at a whole range of research issues of huge importance to the new Graduate School and provided the spark for the lively debates that followed.

    The Graduate School is the shared creation of three faculties from the University of Würzburg: Law, Economics and Business Administration, and Philosophical Faculty II. Each of them is therefore contributing one professor to the Board as their representative: Ralf P. Schenke (public and tax law specialist), Dirk Kiesewetter (business economist), and Hans-Joachim Lauth (political scientist).

    The aims of the Graduate School

    A “forum for doctoral students that transgresses disciplinary boundaries” is what the Graduate School will be in the words of Ralf P. Schenke. The young scientists will be able to draw on the wealth of experience of a larger group and – in a few years’ time – of advanced doctoral students.

    A further aim is to “institutionalize interdisciplinary dialog”. This is the only way it will be possible to use knowledge that exists within other disciplines for a student’s own research and to develop joint research perspectives. Given the “considerable overlap” between the three faculties within the six subject areas, there is plenty of scope for applying the experiences of one area to another.

    Despite its name, the Graduate School will be anything but a “school”. “There will be no school-like path to a doctorate,” said Schenke. The focus will remain on independent scientific work. This was also emphasized by Professor Martin Lohse, Vice-President of the University of Würzburg, in his welcome speech at the launch event: “This is not a continuation of studies, a third round of education after a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree, but rather the start of a career in science.”

    The offering from the Graduate School

    Support from several mentors and accompanying events: this is what the Graduate School will offer its doctoral students. An individual doctoral studies committee will mentor and advise the students, and help them to put together a research program. This will include attending events hosted by other faculties in order to close project-specific gaps in knowledge. Special seminars have already begun, with the professors involved, and particularly the young scientists, introducing their work and putting their theses forward for discussion. Guest lectures and international networking will also be part of the offering from the Graduate School.

    “Good ideas, outstanding doctoral students, and a spirit of curiosity” is the wish voiced by the representatives of the three faculties involved, Christian Grund (Dean), Eric Hilgendorf (Dean), and Andreas Dörpinghaus (Vice-Dean), for the Graduate School as it opens its doors.
    Würzburg’s Graduate Schools

    The Graduate School of Law, Economics and Society comes under the umbrella of the University of Würzburg Graduate Schools. It is the fourth Graduate School, following on from those for Life Sciences, Humanities, and Science & Technology. Doctoral students are given the opportunity to pursue their individual research there, helped by involvement in special research groups and interdisciplinary programs.

    Contact: GSLES Board: T. +49 (0)931 31-82360, e-mail: GSLES@uni-wuerzburg.de

    By Gunnar Bartsch