Research Scholar: “Knowledge Systems and Collective Life”

January 15, 2024
Department/Research Group

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) is an internationally respected research institute of the Max Planck Society (MPG) with three research departments, several research groups, and a graduate school. At the MPIWG, around three hundred scholars from all over the world investigate the sciences past and present, working together on a collective, collaborative, and transdisciplinary basis. The MPIWG is renowned worldwide as a hub for reflection on the role of the sciences in politics and society. It is located in southwestern Berlin, close to the campus of the Free University Berlin and other research institutions.

The Department “Knowledge Systems and Collective Life,” led by Dr. Etienne Benson, seeks to appoint a

Research Scholar

for three years, with employment contract, TVöD pay scales (up to level E14)

starting on September 1, 2024.

The newly appointed colleague will join the team of Department II. The department’s research focuses on the co-constitutive relationship between knowledge systems and forms of collective life in both the past and the present. We are particularly interested in scholarship that foregrounds neglected histories, traces cross-cultural connections, engages with diverse publics, expands the boundaries of the political, challenges conventional definitions of science and technology, critically reflects on its own ethical and conceptual commitments, and experiments with new methods and media. The department is currently seeking to expand its work on the role of knowledge-making in the formation and dissolution of communities and polities; we are particularly interested in historical research on forms of trust, community, and knowledge that differ radically from those dominant today. Further information about the department can be found here. The working language of the department is English. The workplace is Berlin, Germany.

Your responsibilities:

  • Conduct historical research in a field related to the theme “From Trust in Science to Knowledge in Relation” (please consult the description of the theme here)
  • Organize a workshop or working group on a related subject
  • Assist with the organization of the departmental colloquium and other events and research activities in the department

Your profile:

  • Completed PhD in history of science, technology, and medicine or a neighboring field in the humanities and social sciences, including science and technology studies (STS), history, and anthropology (PhD must be in hand at time of application)
  • Research proposal and prior research experience related to the theme “From Trust in Science to Knowledge in Relation”
  • Record of self-directed research beyond the doctoral thesis
  • Interest in developing comparative, cross-cultural, community-engaged, and critically reflective research methods

We offer:

  • Access to a travel fund as well as to the library and other institute resources
  • Flexible working hours; the opportunity to work from home as arranged with your superior; the opportunity to work part-time
  • Annual year-end bonus; occupational pension (VBL); subsidy for public transportation within Berlin or Germany (“Jobticket”); paid leave on Christmas Eve (December 24) and New Year’s Eve (December 31) in addition to regular annual leave
  • Weekly in-house yoga classes; regular information on occupational health management courses offered by our partner health insurance companies
  • Access to the wide range of training courses offered by the MPG’s Planck Academy
  • Close contact with all research and research-support units with the opportunity for direct, personal dialogue
  • An international setting with staff and guests from more than forty countries

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer that strives to foster an inclusive workplace. As an institute of the MPG, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science supports a working community for all free from discrimination and harassment. We explicitly encourage applications from qualified individuals who belong to groups that are often underrepresented in the workplace due to age, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender, nationality, race, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, or religion.

Please follow the links to find out more about the MPIWG’s policies on gender equality and hiring practices for people with disabilities, as well as Germany’s anti-discrimination laws as outlined in the General Equal Treatment Act.

Your application:

Please submit your application in English with complete documents, preferably without a photograph, through our application portal. Include cover letter, curriculum vitae (including a list of publications), a research proposal (1,000 words maximum including notes), writing sample of no more than 30 pages, and contact information for two scholars who could submit letters of recommendation if requested.

Applications must be received by January 15, 2024 (23:59 CET). Please note that we can only accept electronic applications submitted through the portal.


For any questions about the position or the application process, contact Dr. Kerstin Hinrichsen (


Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany