A Boost for Earth System Science in Germany: New Volkswagen Foundation Programme Funds Junior Professorships

Volkswagen Foundation funds the establishment of new tenure-track junior professorships at German universities while also supporting strategic measures to foster system thinking within the research community as a whole.

Acknowledging the importance of systems approaches to the number of urgent challenges currently facing the Anthropocene, this funding programme by Volkswagen Foundation is designed to help establish the guiding principles of earth system science in research and higher education teaching in Germany through the strategic support of tenure-track junior professorships. The programme responds to findings by the report ‘Earth System Science – Discovery, Diagnosis, and Solutions in Times of Global Change’ by Leopoldina which advocates the development of earth system sciences as a conceptual and structural framework to provide new impetus for basic research and question traditional thinking patterns in teaching and research.

Through its support of junior talent and other strategic measures, the programme aims to establish the basic guiding principles of earth system science within the research sector in Germany. Its focus is particularly on system thinking and integrative approaches. By establishing interdisciplinary networks and partnerships and adapting existing research and teaching structures, the programme aims to contribute to overarching perspectives on the system Earth.

Funding is provided for universities with research focus on geosciences that want to establish new tenure-track junior professorships. The foundation also supports additional strategic measures to help establish earth system science in research and teaching at the university.

Applications may be submitted jointly by the host university and the candidate for the newly established junior professorship.

The university must be represented by one established researcher with expertise in earth system science or related research areas, a coordinator for the university’s strategic concept, one member of university management, and the relevant department head. The involvement of additional research institutes at the same site are encouraged.

Candidates for the new junior professorships must have initial experience of independent research. They should also ideally have gained international experience and have gathered insights into the field of earth system science. As a rule, candidates cannot be supported for junior professorships at the same institute where they completed their doctorate.

Volkswagen Foundation offers funding for up to two tenure-track junior professorships per site, as well as for strategic measures for the establishment of earth system science in research and teaching.

Up to €1.5 million is provided to cover the costs for the junior professorship, associated staff and facilities, and strategic measures over a period of six years.

The foundation will fund no more than six junior professorships in total.

The application deadline is 15 November 2023.

(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Newsflash.)