Sur-Place-Scholarship Programme Southern Caucasus

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Sur-Place-Scholarship Programme Southern Caucasus

In December 2003, the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation established a Sur-Place-Programme for young professionals in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The scholarship holders engage in research about contemporary history, critical sociology and sustainable development in the Caucasus Region.

The programme targets particularly postgraduate scholars but also young members of staff in NGOs and the media. The Heinrich-Böll-Foundation endeavours to attract applicants from all South Caucasian regions, including the conflict regions South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Bergkarabach. It promotes research proposals with innovative methods and supra-regional and/or international perspective that critically engage with current, socio-political issues and discourses in the South Caucasian states, or that develop concepts for regional sustainable development. Candidates from peripheral regions are particularly welcome to apply. Also, there is a 50% quota for women.

Background
The South Caucasian society suffers massively from the migration of qualified young professionals (brain drain). Particularly young people between 25 -30 year, who have not been brought up and educated under the old Soviet system, but are finding it difficult to adjust to the “new” post-soviet society, search for perspective and places where the can assume responsibility. The Sur-Place-Scholarship Programme, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), wants to contribute to professional and socio-political development of young academics, in order to promote and strengthen their role as multiplicators in science and society.

About the programme
The successful applicants are awarded a scholarship for the period of 13 months. Candidates for overall 33 scholarships are selected on the basis of one competition for the whole South Caucasian region. There are 11 scholarships for each of the following fields of study: contemporary history and society, sociology and sustainable urban development. Please note that applicants do not have to be enrolled at a university or another academic institution.

Selection criteria are: quality of the proposal, actuality and socio-political relevance of the topic, methodological originality and the candidate’s socio-political commitment.

A supra-regional network with experts on the Caucasian region from Germany, Western Europe and Russia has been established, in order to select and support the scholarship holders and to increase the programme’s multiplicator-effect on universities, the media and NGOs. The network-circle consists of sociologists, historians, political scientists, ecologists and architects, who agreed to support the programme participants academically. This includes regular meetings, advice on literature search, text sources, access to archives etc, supervision of the research progress and help with professional networking.

Additional programme support
Besides the financial support the Sur-Place-Scholarship Programme also offers regular seminars on national and regional level, to discuss ongoing research projects and discuss and practise new scientific methods in the respective fields of study:

  • Every year a summer school takes place to which programme participants and academics from the region as well as from Germany and the rest of Europe are invited. The summer school focuses on the discussion of innovative research methods in Humanities and Social Sciences and current social and political topics. It also gives the participating scholarship holders another opportunity to present and discuss their research projects.
  • The foundation’s regional office has installed a discussion platform on its web site for the communication among scholarship holders and supporting academics.
  • Special libraries have been opened in the three capitals of the region.
  • After each programme cycle, 10 out of the 33 scholarship holders are additionally rewarded with a fully funded research stay in Germany for the period of two months. The selection depends on the quality of the research outcome.
  • The works of the participants are, in extracts, published in a special anthology. Furthermore, the programme supports their search for other options to publish.

Contact
For further information, please refer to the website of the regional office South Caucasus of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation.