What we do?

Scholarship programme to promote young social scientists in the fields of contemporary history, sociology and sustainable urban development

In 2003-2014, the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation (HBS) has run a yearly “on site” scholarship programme for up-and-coming academics in the social sciences from all South Caucasian nations. The researchers (maximum age: 35) work at their home places on individual interdisciplinary projects in the fields of contemporary history, critical sociology and sustainable urban development.

Background of the programme

South Caucasian societies suffer a lot from the so-called “brain drain” – a phenomenon where well-educated young people leave the country due to lack of prospects that would meet their professional qualifications and/or academic and socio-political interests. In particular the generation of now 23-35-year old academics who were not brought up in the old Soviet system have a hard time settling down in their homeland given the difficult circumstances in post-Soviet countries.  Precisely this new generation of academics is searching for opportunities to contribute to the modernisation of their societies through research and social engagement.

Aims of the programme

The scholarship programme is orientated expressly at social science research in the South Caucasus. It endeavours to: 

  • support young social scientists in carrying out individual and interdisciplinary research;
  • enact a methodological and substantive renewal of the study of history and social sciences in the South Caucasus;
  • promote regional cooperation among young academics in the South Caucasus;
  • establish a South Caucasian network of highly qualified experts in order to carry out joint projects in the sphere of civil society.

Scope of the programme

The programme is targeted toward graduate social scientists, as well as young members of non-governmental organisations and the media, up to age 35. They receive a monthly scholarship of 250 Euro for a period of 12 months. Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of a competition that is announced throughout the whole South Caucasus region and comprises 3 steps:

  • The selection criteria are the quality of the application,
  • the relevance and socio-political significance of the topic,
  • methodological innovation,
  • as well as socio-political interest and engagement of the individual candidates.

Applicants from regions outside the capital cities are given particular consideration. 

The establishment of a wider network of advisers that includes Caucasus experts from Russia, Germany and other Western European countries enhances the programme’s multiplying effect on universities, the media and non-governmental organisations. At the same time, it provides professional advisory service and ensures proper selection procedures for the scholarship holders. 

Supporting the programme

Apart from financial sponsorship, HBS scholarship holders receive intensive assistance through a supporting programme:

  • Scholarship holders are routinely invited to joint conferences together with international experts, during which their current research works are discussed and new methods in the field of social science are introduced and applied in exercises and workshops.
  • Each year in July, all scholarship holders take part in a weeklong international summer school with scholars from the region, from Germany and other European countries as tutors. Apart from consultation on their current works, the scholarship holders get a chance to discuss innovative methods in the humanities and social sciences, and discourse about topical social as well as political issues. 
  • In the capitals of the three South Caucasian states, reference libraries with fundamental social science literature were established ad hoc and can be accessed by the scholarship holders.
  • The best works of the scholarship holders are published as scientific articles in an anthology. Additionally, we support the scholarship holders in finding other opportunities to publish their works.