Institute of Political Science (IfP)

As one of the largest political science institutes in Germany and with its research performance ranked No. 2 in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) (in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)/Shanghai Ranking for Political Science in 2018), the IfP has succeeded in recent years in building its reputation with excellent results in the following research areas: voting and political parties, governance, public policy and digital transformation, international relations and global governance (including peace and conflict research and development studies ), political governance, governance and public administration, area studies and comparative politics, didactics of the social sciences and political education, and political theory.

In voting and party research, Prof. Achim Goerres is currently conducting a study on the 2017 German Bundestag election with funding from the DFG: “Voting behaviour of immigrant Germans” will make it possible for the first time to differentiate more clearly voting behaviour among different groups and generations of immigrants in Germany. In the same field of research, Prof. Andreas Blätte is also heading the DFG project “The populist challenge in parliaments”, which promises to deliver robust insights into the role of the AfD party (Alternative für Deutschland) in the regional parliaments and the changes that have ensued as a result. These insights will also be significant for international comparative research on populist parties.

At the intersection between the research foci on voting and political parties and on governance, public policy and digital transformation, the “Digital Party Research” junior research group, headed by Prof. Christoph Bieber and Dr. Isabell Borucki, has been working under the NRW “Digital Society” funding line to explore digitally induced changes in party politics. Special mention must be made here of Prof. Andreas Blätte’s PolMine project, which specifically focuses on processing the German Bundestag’s plenary protocols for automated analysis. The project has been registered as a centre in the European CLARIN (Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure) network, which has created a sustainable digital research infrastructure in Duisburg-Essen that is visible throughout Europe.

The field of international relations and global governance including peace and development research is currently represented by two ongoing DFG projects. Led by PD Dr. Daniel Lambach (since October 2018 DFG Heisenberg fellow in Frankfurt), the “Non-Violent Resistance and Democratic Consolidation” project began in 2015 and has been exploring revolutions and upheaval to find out how non-violent forms of resistance affect democratic consolidation in the long term. Since 2017, Dr. Miquel Pellicer has been researching the implications of clientelistic political structures for development theory in the project “The Demand Side of Clientelism”.

An example of where the research on political governance, governance and administrative studies is currently taking place is within the FUTURE WATER research school. FUTURE WATER is an interdisciplinary consortium project of several higher education institutions in NRW that is tasked explicitly with investigating water, its use and management as one of the major challenges to society of our time. With funding from the former NRW Ministry for Innovation, Science and Research (MIWF), the IfP is contributing political science expertise to the overall project in research on policy-making in water resource management (Prof. Nicolai Dose).

In a project funded by the Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) on “Left-wing militancy and antisemitism among heterogeneous youth groups: analysis – access – action”, Prof. Susanne Pickel and Peter Krumpholz are exploring ways of gaining access to the heterogeneous left and extreme-left groups in which predominantly adolescents and young adults organise. The study explores whether there is any overlap or common ground with the extreme right in the targets of their hostility and any shared perceptions of injustice that some believe should be eradicated through violence.

In area studies and comparative politics, Prof. Thomas Heberer is working on a project funded jointly by the DFG and its French counterpart ANR called “(New) Political Representative Claims: A Global View (France, Germany, Brazil, China, India)”, which analyses and typologises new forms of political representation in five selected countries from a comparative global perspective. Research in the Duisburg subproject uses a case study of China to study the political representation of new social groups and new forms of political representation that are made possible by digital technologies and formats.

An example of didactic research at the IfP is Prof. Sabine Manzel’s work on the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)-funded project “Professionalisation for diversity”. The project explores the relationship between subject and writing skills in German and Turkish as a heritage language with respect to developing and promoting bilateral, subject-oriented general competency. The basis of the study is an interdisciplinary analysis of school students’ texts in two science and technology subjects (Physics and Technology) and two social science subjects (History and Politics). It is conducted in interdisciplinary cooperation between the didactics of the relevant subjects and with the Institute of German as a Second and Foreign Language and the Institute of Turkish Studies at the UDE.

With its immediate implications for teacher training and continuing education, as well as for teaching design in schools in a diverse society, this project exemplifies how scientific research at the IfP meets its social responsibility. As a way of encouraging successful transfer of findings into society, the CIVES School of Civic Education works in the field of subject didactics and political education to systematically connect university research, practical training in schools, continuing education for teachers, and schools in the region. Another institution at the IfP that guarantees long-term knowledge transfer is the NRW School of Governance. As a professional school it offers various means of exchange between research, politics and society – such as the Stiftung Mercator Visiting Professorship for Political Management (in the reporting period: Prof. Gert Scobel, Prof. Rita Süssmuth, Christian Wulff) or the opportunity to qualify as a Master of Public Policy.

The IfP encourages research cooperation across universities and disciplines. In addition to those already described above, the BMBF-funded project “Multiple risks. Contingency management in stem cell research and its applications – a political science analysis” is a good example. The project is conducted as a contribution to research in the field of political theory by Prof. Renate Martinsen in cooperation with the Schools of Medical Ethics and Law at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and the University of Augsburg. Since 2015, Prof. Achim Goerres and colleagues from Financial Mathematics and Philosophy in Essen have been heading the “Big Risks” project, which looks at the perception, management and ethics of risk surrounding major social challenges such as climate change or ageing.

Research cooperation and transfer to society are also systematically incorporated in the goals of individual projects. For example, in area studies Prof. Michael Kaeding is leading the EU Horizon 2020 project “SEnECA – Strengthening and Energizing EU-Central Asia Relations” on realigning relationships between the EU and Central Asia. SEnECA sets out to create a transdisciplinary network of researchers working in Central Asia on European integration and in Europe on Central Asia. The UDE and the Institute of European Politics are joined on the project by ten other institutions from Europe and the five Central Asian countries. The researchers are also monitoring the revision of the EU–Central Asia strategy, which is scheduled to be presented to the EU Special Representative for Central Asia by 2019. As this example shows, the work of the IfP contributes to both research and practice.