Junior Scholar (GMPG)

March 06, 2016

The research program History of the Max Planck Society (Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, GMPG ) is advertising a position for a junior scholar (postdoc or doctoral student) in the research area of

History of the Behavioral Sciences, Neuroscience and the Cognitive Sciences

to be filled at the earliest possible date for an initial period of 2 years.

The research program History of the Max Planck Society (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, MPG) has been commissioned by the president of the MPG to research the history of the society from its founding in the year 1948 up to 2002. Biology and the life sciences are two of the MPG’s central fields of research, investigated in multiple institutes, and serve as examples on the basis of which the research program can investigate how research areas become differentiated and specialized, and how scientific innovations emerge. These fields include, among others, the behavioral sciences, neuroscience and the cognitive sciences (BNC).

Various parts of the BNC are categorized as life sciences, medicine or humanities. What they have in common is, first, that they describe core issues of the way humans perceive themselves. Second, their thematic overlap and shared social references constitute an interface between the life sciences, medicine, and the humanities. For this reason they are of particular scientific interest for the research program, especially since they are also areas considered to be burdened historically through psychiatrists’ participation in human experimentation and the murder of the patients in the era of National Socialism, and thus call for particular attention in the research program. 

The questions in the BNC important for the research program include:

  • How did the relationship between the academic cultures (humanities and life sciences) develop in the BNC?
  • In what way are socially relevant topics like psychosocial development, deviance, addiction, criminality and enhancement reflected in research by the MPG?
  • What role did clinical research play within the MPG and what development did it undergo? First in relation to research on animal experimentation, and second with a view to its ethical condition?
  • What were the policies of the Max Planck Institutes and the MPG concerning Germany’s past in the case of the BNC?

Qualification profile: In order to be able to adequately contextualize the contribution of neuroscience, brain and cognitive research within the MPG, the research program History of the Max Planck Society is advertising a two-year position for a postdoc or doctoral student in this area, to be filled at the earliest possible date. It is possible that the position will be renewed for a further year. The research results will flow into a compilation volume to be issued by the research program on the history of the MPG.

The ideal applicant would bring both qualifications in medicine and psychiatry and documented knowledge of science history (for instance, as a historian of medicine). Active participation in the working group of the GMPG research program is expected, as is the willingness to perform independent archive research. Good communication skills and a capacity for teamwork are essential. Prerequisites for working in our internationally staffed institute are secure verbal and written communication in German and English.

Remuneration is based on the German civil service standards TVÖD (E13 or E14, depending on qualifications). Applicants from scholars of all nationalities are welcome; applications from women are especially encouraged. The Max Planck Society endeavors to employ more severely disabled persons and expressly appeals to them to apply.

Please submit your application with cover letter, curriculum vitae, a sample of written scholarship, copies of certificates and an exposé of your research proposal (max. 5 pages), in electronic format only, March 6, 2016 (23:59 CET)

marked with the reference GMPG-Neuroscience (MPG)

to the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) at the following email address:



For questions about applying for the position, please contact Kristina Schönfeldt of the research program History of the Max Planck Society at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstr. 22, 14195 Berlin, at the same email address (gmpgoffice@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de).   

For administrative questions about the position, please contact the administrative director of the Institute, Frau Claudia Paaß (paass@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de).