1. What is a DenkRaum Fellowship?

A DenkRaum Fellowship provides personal funding for joint interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary projects of societal relevance.  A DenkRaum Fellowship enables Fellows to work on joint projects with a future-oriented topic of great societal relevance, in addition to their main research and teaching activities. In their joint projects the Fellows reflect their different disciplinary approaches; they get to know the needs, concerns and reservations of non-academic stakeholders on the topic, while benefiting from their knowledge and experience. In this way, they can create new viewpoints and fresh impetus for their own work and future projects while making new and useful contacts.

2. What does a DenkRaum Fellowship include?

Fellows receive up to EUR 20,000 a year, based on their individual needs, to create the required scope for work in DenkRaum while ensuring the continuous high quality of their main research activities. In addition, they are assisted in organizing events and conducting their projects. DenkRaum offers the Fellows a platform for showcasing their innovative projects and for networking, and supports them in their science communication. DenkRaum Fellows also have a budget of up to EUR 60,000 for joint DenkRaum events.

Note: A DenkRaum Fellowship cannot be used to finance the Fellows’ own positions.


3. Who can apply for a DenkRaum Fellowship?

All postdoctoral researchers, junior professors and leaders of junior research groups who are researching and/or teaching at Kiel University may apply for a DenkRaum Fellowship. This includes recipients of scholarships as well as lecturers and staff in HSP (Higher Education Pact) positions (full-time and part-time). Academic staff in permanent positions in research and/or teaching who meet the requirements for membership may also apply for a DenkRaum Fellowship.

4. What exactly does “excellent PhD” mean, as stated as a prerequisite for applicants in “Information for Applicants” and on the “Call for Fellowships” page of the DenkRaum website?

This is a question that cannot be answered independently of the disciplinary culture and the overall profile of the individual candidates. An excellent doctoral degree is expressed differently in different disciplines. In some disciplines only a summa cum laude doctoral degree is regarded as excellent, while in others cum laude is a great distinction.

5. Can I become a DenkRaum Fellow if I do not have a contract at Kiel University for the whole two-year term of the Fellowship?

Yes, that is possible. In such a case, however, you should be able to demonstrate that you are highly likely to continue your research and/or teaching at Kiel University for the next two years and can therefore complete your DenkRaum Fellowship.

6. For how long after I have finished my doctoral degree can I apply for a DenkRaum Fellowship?

Up to seven years after your doctoral degree, from the date stated on your PhD certificate. Extensions for child-raising periods are allowed of up to two years per child, up to a maximum of six years overall. The same applies for periods spent caring for close relatives. Extensions of up to two years are allowed for specialist medical training or other professional training courses completed.

7. Do I need my supervisor’s permission to apply for a DenkRaum Fellowship?

As a rule, all postdoctoral researchers at Kiel University are allowed to apply for a DenkRaum Fellowship independently of their supervisors. How the Fellowship is implemented and also how the support measures are configured, e.g. in university teaching, in literary research, in the laboratory and use of lab spaces, rooms or equipment required for a DenkRaum project, should of course be agreed between the Fellows and their supervisors and faculties.

8. Can I accept a DenkRaum Fellowship if I have a full-time position as part of a project funded by a third party (EU, German Research Foundation (DFG) or Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF))?

As a career-enhancing measure, membership in DenkRaum is usually no problem within the context of third-party funded projects. To be on the safe side, however, you should check the conditions of your contract with staff at the EU office or with Forschungsförderung National. Scholarship recipients are advised to consult with their funding agency.

Application process

9. How do I apply for DenkRaum?

Please fill in the application form (pdf) provided and send this by email, together with all the required documents, to by September 13 at the latest. By early October 2020, up to 12 individuals will be selected from all the applications submitted on time, and invited to interviews. The interviews are likely to be held on 26/27 October 2020. The top six candidates will be granted a DenkRaum Fellowship for two years.

10. If I make it through the first round of selection for the DenkRaum, what happens next?

All Fellows selected in the first round, based on their written documents, will be invited to personal interviews. In these interviews they will be given the opportunity to present their project idea; they will be asked about their project sketch, their objectives, their motivation for working in DenkRaum and their intended use of the personal allowance.

11. Will I be required to write a full project proposal if I get through the first round of selection?

No, you will not have to submit a fully drafted project plan for the second round. All candidates who get through to the second round must be prepared, however, to make a persuasive presentation of their project in front of the experts and to answer questions on their project content, their schedule and what they intend to spend their funding on. The Fellows will receive further information on preparing for the second round of selection upon confirmation of their selection in the first round.

Work in DenkRaum

12. When does work start in DenkRaum?

Work on DenkRaum “Urban Design” will start at the end of the year, most likely on 26/27 November, with a two-day retreat.

13. How much time do I need to set aside for work in DenkRaum?

Work in DenkRaum will take up around 10-15% of the regular monthly work hours of full-time employment.

14. Are there regular meetings that have to be attended by all Fellows?

All Fellows attend the two-day retreat which marks the start of the work in DenkRaum, the closing event and joint activities. Regular Fellows’ meetings will be held as required over the course of the two years. These are likely to be more frequent at the start of the DenkRaum period (to get to know the various concepts and methods in the different disciplines and to initiate joint projects) and at the end of the DenkRaum period (to finalise the project results and prepare for the joint closing event) than in the interim period (in which the Fellows will organise and work on their projects at their own initiative).

15. What may I finance with my DenkRaum Fellowship personal allowance?

The factsheet “DenkRaum: Personal Allowance” specifies what may be financed with the personal allowance of up to €20,000/year, and how this allowance is accounted for. In principle, all measures supporting the Fellows’ own research activity may be financed. These include teaching assignments, student assistant positions, laboratory staff, etc. The funds may also be used for conference trips, archive visits, publications or for organising workshops, etc. for the purpose of networking and enhancing the Fellows’ own careers. The funds cannot be used to pay for the Fellows’ own positions.

16. What happens if I leave Kiel University, become ill or become a parent during the term of my DenkRaum Fellowship?

A DenkRaum Fellowship cannot be extended. If a Fellowship has to be cut short, the remaining portion of the personal allowance is to be returned to DenkRaum and the Fellowship comes to an end. The departing Fellow must provide an account of his/her work in DenkRaum to the steering group. If it is ensured that the DenkRaum project can be concluded satisfactorily, in cooperation with the other Fellows as well as the external stakeholders, it is at the discretion of the steering group to decide on whether to approve a continuation of the Fellowship.

17. What results are expected from the Fellows after two years?

DenkRaum Fellows undertake to deliver the project results agreed upon at the end of their DenkRaum Fellowships.

18. What does it mean to be a former member of DenkRaum?

All former DenkRaum Fellows will become DenkRaum Alumni. DenkRaum Alumni will be kept informed of DenkRaum activities and invited to selected DenkRaum events.