Social Science Works is proud to have a team of fellows. These fellows comprise a diverse, international group of scholars, mostly based in Germany, that share the core ideas behind Social Science Works. They strive to contribute to the societal relevance of social science and to the quality of democratic decision making. The disciplinary background of our fellows ranges from sociology, political science, economics, philosophy to communication studies. They are at home in a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The fellow publish quality-blogs for a wider audience on the website, work on a freelance basis when Social Science Works’ projects, write second opinions on research about which they have expertise, or when we offer courses on research and policy making.
Sergiu Lucaci is a PhD fellow in political science at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences. Upon receiving his BA degree from Jacobs University Bremen, he has pursued master studies at Cardiff University and Humboldt University Berlin. With a general interest in social and political theory, Sergiu is currently researching particular forms of civil society activity in the European Union in the aftermath of the financial crisis. His focus is on networks of non-governmental organizations that try to attain the status of legitimate contributors to the field of financial regulation. From a theoretical angle emphasizing the role of knowledge production, he seeks to uncover how civil society advocacy in a technical policy field is structured by the EU politico-administrative order through its various uses of outside expertise.
During his studies at the University of Göttingen Uwe spend a year abroad at Uppsala University for the study of sociology, history, and holocaust and genocide studies, and volunteered at the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism. He conducted his Magister thesis on meritocratic beliefs, educational inequalities, and the income distribution in modern welfare states at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) under supervision of Heike Solga.
Jada Lindblom is a doctoral student at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, in the School of Community Resources and Development. She serves as a research assistant at the University’s Center for Sustainable Tourism (https://scrd.asu.edu/sustainabletourism). Among her varied research interests, she investigates residents’ sense of place and pride in tourism settings, tourism development in post-war regions, and the significant tourism roles filled by people who work in the periphery of the industry. Her academic pursuits have arisen in part from her experiences as a practitioner in outdoor recreation and adventure tourism, in which she observed the educational and psychological benefits of travel and leisure, but also the considerable environmental and cultural detriments of the industry. She received a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Scripps College (Claremont, California) and a M.S. in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Utah.
Dr. Jana Schildt is a mediator and holds a PhD in peace & conflict studies from the Université de Louvain (Belgium) on the subject of reconciliation in Rwanda. During her research work, she lived in Rwanda and gathered working experiences in Burundi, RDC, Turkey and Kosovo and was involved with various Belgian dialogue initiatives among the Diasporas from the Great Lakes region in Belgium. She taught at universities in Belgium and France and worked for the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as research advisor for peace policies in the Great Lakes region (GRAPAX research network). In her work, she explores a somatic approach to mediation working with conflicts ranging from interpersonal to international. She is curious in how the body manifests itself in conflict and how a holistic body-mind approach can support us in going through conflict in a constructive way.
In Berlin, she works as a freelance mediator and trainer for topics related to (culture-sensitive) mediation and conflict transformation. Currently, she is also project manager for the project “Dialog schafft Nachbarschaft” at the Berlin Center for Integrative Mediation (CSSP Berlin). Supported by the city council of Neukölln, she facilitates mediation, dialogue and encounters between neighbours and inhabitants of a refugee accommodation in Southern Neukölln.
Philipp Gerlach is a behavioral scientist with a strong interest in evidence-based policy-making advice. He graduated with a distinction in psychology from Cambridge University and with “very good” in social science from Humboldt University. Throughout his studies, Philipp has worked for both applied and fundamental research institutes prior to commencing his current position as a doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. His dissertation investigates the conditions under which people conform to social norms: moral rules that promote or prohibit actions by telling us what ought to be done and what to expect from others. To address this question, he uses quantitative statistical tools to analyze large experimental data sets.
Over decades, the behavioral sciences have generated valuable tools that enable people to make better decisions for themselves. Examples include improving (boosting) people’s capacities for exercising their own agency and designing choice environments that steer (nudge) people to make better decisions whilst preserving choice. In recent years, public officials have grown interested in using these tools to promote policy goals. To some degree, boosting and nudging can serve as alternatives to classic regulatory and fiscal means, such as laws and incentives. In particular, nudging has been increasingly applied to various domains of daily life – with both opportunities and risks for the civil society. Philipp is looking forward to contributing his expertise in behaviorally informed interventions and data science to the knowledge base of Social Science Works.
Marie de Vazelhes
Dr. Marie de Vazelhes is a social and cultural anthropologist looking to develop her analytical skills in social activities. After having finished her studies in France in arts, social and cultural anthropology and intercultural communication in the eastern European context, she focused on her thesis and earned her PhD in July 2016 at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
She spent the last four years between Berlin and Odessa, studying the city’s discourse strategies before and during the Ukrainian conflict. Through her ethnographical fieldwork she focused on the different city dwellers’ narrative strategies sustaining the symbolic capital of the city, which was used for economic and political purposes in the Ukrainian political crisis.
After her doctorate she has chosen to learn more about alternative self-reflective pedagogical methods in order to engage in civil society. She is currently working in a refugee camp and organising creative workshops with young people. She is deeply convinced that the social sciences can help to promote democracy in our society and to empower the people to do so.
Christian Kipp currently studies social science in the master’s program at Humboldt University Berlin. Recently, he spent a year in New York City as a visiting student at the New School for Social Research. Having previously studied economics, he completed his bachelor’s degree in social science at HU Berlin in 2014. In his bachelor’s thesis he compared the theoretical depictions of markets and individuals in economics and sociology. In his opinion, a unified social science, joining sociology and economics, is necessary in order to analyze market economies as social systems. Besides the social sciences, Christian is interested in mathematics and analytic philosophy.
Christian’s approach to social science is based on the conviction that scientific analysis of social mechanisms is a necessary condition for progressive social change based on reason and open discussion. He is discontent with the prevalence of various forms of obscurantism in the social sciences: whereas mathematical obscurantism tries to conceal theoretical poverty under a veneer of seemingly sophisticated, but pointless mathematical mumbo-jumbo, classical “soft” obscurantism deceives the reader by means of vague and confusing language. What the social sciences need is less pretentiousness and more clarity, not only to foster their internal communication, but also to gain impact outside of academia.
Michael Häfelinger is economist, sociologist, and health care researcher. He works as a business consultant (www.unternehmercoaches.de) and is the Managing Director of the Berlin Institute for public health (www.biph.de).
His academic heart beats for equal opportunities. At TOPOS city research he was jointly responsible for the determination of rent ceilings in redevelopment and environmental protection areas. He also developed the set of indicators for the social report of the State of Brandenburg. Later he worked at the Robert-Koch-Institute on the poverty and wealth report of the Federal Government and co-designed the federal health survey.
These predominantly analytical level he left with entering the Berlin Institute for Public Health. Here he devotes himself to the implementation of health promotion measures in the workplace and city neighborhoods.
As a management consultant for cooperation, he is specialized in participation and esteeming communication in corporations.
Ivan Capriles is a doctoral candidate in political science at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, researching on autonomy and control dynamics between oil exporting states and national oil industries. He holds an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of Hong Kong, China, a B.A. in International Relations from Lancaster University and a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany.
Energy politics is an area of focus for which he has pursued experiences such as an internship at the Venezuelan embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, work at the Venezuelan petroleum ministry´s unit of international affairs and technical training on crude processing in central Venezuela. Other experiences include post-tsunami housing reconstruction (World Bank, Banda Aceh, Indonesia), fragile states (Center for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, Canada) and strategic planning (Venezuelan Embassy, Berlin, Germany).
Between 2015 and 2016 he was a research fellow on International Rule of Law and Justice Sector Reform at the Robert Bosch Academy. He was the rapporteur of the 2015 Salzburg Global Seminar 3rd Global LGTB Forum on Human Rights and Social Cohesion. He presented a paper on coup d’états at the LASA Conference 2013 (Washington DC, USA) and wrote articles on Latin America´s megacities for Schlosssplatz 3 and on Venezuelan politics for Matices: Zeitschrift zu Lateinamerika, Spanien und Portugal.
Other areas of interest and engagement include scenarios analysis and digitalization. He is collaborating with the grassroots policy thintank Polis180 on a project on Middle eastern scenarios. As a hobby, he has participated as extra music videos for the bands Tubbe and The Hidden Cameras, cast member for the short film Gold by German director Kai Stänicke and has co-authored the electronic single “Frau Böse” with German artist Trummerschlunk released by the Audiolith label.
Dr. Sergiu Buscaneanu is a visiting researcher at the Institute for European Integration, University of Hamburg, where he works on a book concerned with the dynamics of political regimes in the Eastern neighborhood of the EU. The book, which is due to be published in 2016 with Palgrave Macmillan, argues that the EU’s democratization role in Eastern neighborhood was weak over the period 1991-2014, but where such a weak role was present, it was only under four domestic and transnational conditions: (a) a higher cost-benefit balance of norm adoption; (b) a lower structural difficulty (e.g. effects of oil rents) a given country would need to overcome on its way towards democratization; (c) increased levels of power dispersion and political representation; and (d) a higher extent of democratic diffusion resulting from regional interactions.
Sergiu’s research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics with international relations. His primary areas of academic interest are EU external governance, democratization, regime dynamics, democratic diffusion, democratic theory, former Soviet Union, European Neighborhood Policy, Eastern Partnership and prospect theory, while the secondary ones include EU enlargement, fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis and concept building.
Sergiu Buscaneanu joined Social Science Works, because he is concerned with how actually social science works. He has completed an MA (2006) in EU politics at the University of Leeds and a PhD (2014) in political science at the BGSS, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Sergiu serves as a country expert for the “V-Dem” project and has been a Chevening, EMECW and DAAD scholar.
Lily Cichanowicz earned her bachelor’s from Cornell University in 2015 where she studied Development Sociology with a concentration in Inequality studies. She has spent time working in the developing world aiding in education initiatives in Nicaragua and studying indigenous communities in Malaysian Borneo. She also took part in a Master’s-level program in International Development and Agricultural Economics at the University of Copenhagen as an exchange student. Currently, Lily works as a writer and editor for various publications based in Berlin and beyond. Her areas of interest include critical social theory, epistemology, activism, and international economics.
Martin Neise is an MA student of political science at the Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main. He holds a BA in North American Studies from the John-F.-Kennedy-Institute at the Free University Berlin and spent his exchange year at Reed College in Portland (OR). During his studies, he focused on the US welfare state and revitalization strategies of labor unions. Furthermore, Martin took a keen interest in political philosophy and normative questions about the legitimacy of power and domination.
After starting his Master’s program, Martin became involved with issues in political economy which compelled him to study abroad at the Central European University in Budapest. He focuses on heterodox macro-economics, crises of capitalism and EU integration and the political economy of development. Currently, he writes his Master’s thesis on global production networks and their interactions with financialization processes.
Martin is convinced that social science has the responsibility to feed and give back to its object of research and Social Science Works seems to be the place where that is possible.
Bérengère Gouraud has developed an affection for research thanks to her French-German curricula: After a Summa Cum Laude BA on the French-German campus from Sciences Po Paris, Bérengère studied law philosophy in Vienna during an exchange year. In the Masters in Public Affairs at Sciences Po, she has experienced having teachers from the administration that gave her a practical perspective on public policies. Both her research inclination and the proximity with the executive power pushed her to take part to Social Science Works.
To broaden her horizons before finishing her masters, she is taking part to the IPS programme in Berlin, which consists of being a student at the Humboldt University and a parliamentary assistant at the Bundestag. She has chosen to study philosophy to gain new, more distanced insights on society, and wish to concretely live in the political sphere as parliamentary assistant. There, on top of approaching the German political system, she will also be able to observe how information and minds are built up.
Indeed, group dynamics and education are core interests of her that she has been developing throughout her engagement within the European Youth Parliament. Its sessions develop skills for discussions’ leading, creativity and individual empowerment. She is now willing to explore these elements within other contexts, such as school classes, enterprises and state’s services.
Niklas Kossow is a political scientist with a focus on anti-corruption policies and the use of new technologies in mobilizing anti-corruption movements. He holds a BA in European Social and Political Studies from University College London and a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin. Having worked as a Mercator Fellow on International Affairs, he recently returned to the Hertie School to work on his PhD thesis. Additionally, Niklas is the Communications Officer of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP Project at the European Research Center for Anti-Corruption and State Building. Previously he gained work experience at the German Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the German Foreign Office and the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB). He previously worked as a researcher for Transparency International, Freedom House, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Wide Web Foundation. His experience as a researcher led him to support high quality and honest research aimed at improving public policy. Adding to his keen interest in anti-corruption work he loves to travel and has a strong affection for Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet sphere. He regularly shares his thoughts on twitter @niklaskossow.
Johannes Kuhnert is an MA student in Political Theory at Goethe University Frankfurt Main. He has previously studied European Social and Political Studies at University College London and has been an exchange student at the University of Bologna and the New School for Social Research in New York. Currently, he is on the way to finishing his thesis on The Moral Economy of Financial Consultancy. During his studies, his interest progressively moved from political and social philosophy towards qualitative social research. As a result of this, Johannes has adopted ‘praxeography’, conversation and discourse analysis as his preferred mode of research, but he remains equally preoccupied with the conceptual foundations of sociology. Systems theory and Science and Technology Studies are his major reference points for the integration of his empirical and conceptual interests. He believes that radical constructivist stories can spur reflexivity in complex, knowledge-based societies in much the same way that modern philosophy used to in the past. He is glad to join Social Science Works to discuss his ideas with like-minded.
Michelle Ruiz Andrade
Michelle Ruiz Andrade followed the pattern of many researchers, who left the Global-South with the aim of expanding her horizons and finding some answers in the Global-North, which she could bring back home. After participating in around 15 Model United Nations throughout her school years, Michelle, deduced that a much more interdisciplinary approach than International Relations’ studies was required, in order to respond to global problematics. She moved then to Berlin and started her Social Sciences undergraduate at the Humboldt University.
Later on, motivated by the French philosophical and sociological tradition on understanding education, Michelle continued her studies in Sciences Po, Paris and participated as an intern in UNESCO. It turned out, nevertheless, that as she got progressively immersed within research dynamics, she felt that rather more, and particularly, much different questions were required to be asked. Critical thinking was certainly acclaimed by every student and professor. Paradoxically the geographical and historical possibilities of such enterprise were strictly limited to the theoretical canon of white/male/western scholarship. Following these concerns for re-thinking the limits and potentials of Social Sciences, she further engaged on deeper inquiry on the geopolitical roots of knowledge. The interplay of inherent hierarchies between knowledges and societies in the framework of the Knowledge Society paradigma, for instance, was the central interrogation on her thesis. Further approaches to decolonial thinking, however, is currently at the heart of Michelle’s motivation so as to expand this struggle through additional spaces, where the academia, university, broad, Social Sciences can be re-imagined.
Oktay Tuncer is a master student Social Sciences at the Humboldt-University of Berlin. Oktay completed his Undergraduate degree in the same field studying both in Berlin and in Paris. At Humboldt University he received a far-reaching education in quantitative and qualitative research methods. At the Nanterre University of Paris he acquired important theoretical insights in sub fields of sociology like socio-anthropology, political sociology and sociology of economic thinking.
Oktay gained supplementary experience in academia by working as a student assistent in research institutes such as the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW, Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung) and the Berlin Social Science Research Center (WZB, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung).
In his studies, he focused on political and economic sociology, the sociology of inequality and research methods. The topic of his Bachelor thesis was the notion of nationality and citizenship in Turkey. For this he analyzed the ongoing debate on a new constitution.
Throughout his experiences in academia, Oktay faced the problems and obstacles of relevant, valuable and legitimate empirical research. This motivated him to become an associate of Social Science Works.
Johannes Petry is a political economist currently working on finance. He did his BA in Political Science and Economics at Goethe University Frankfurt, starting to integrate his knowledge from both disciplines. In order to further this interdisciplinary approach, he did an MA in International Political Economy at the University of Warwick and an MA Politics & Public Administration at the University of Konstanz.
Throughout his studies, he specialised in issues of political economy. Empirically, on the critical analysis of finance, crises and emerging markets in the context of a global economy. Theoretically, by combining different schools of research to overcome disciplinary boundaries and further an integrated approach to the study of society, politics and the economy. During and after his studies he worked as a teaching and research assistant at various universities and did an internship at the Institut für Sozialforschung.
During the research for his dissertation on varieties of financialisation he conducted a series of interviews with financial market actors and hereby realised how different the views from regulators and bankers are from academics, and how little some academics seem to understand finance and hence are unable to substantially criticise it. To avoid this fallacy, he decided to work in finance for two years before going back to academia. He is now doing a PhD at the University of Warwick, analysing the transformation of Chinese capital markets, incorporating his experiences as a financial analyst and political economist.
Johannes is worried about the current state of social science research which is mainly driven by methodological and theoretical debates and constrained by disciplinary boundaries. He believes that three aspects are of vital importance for good social science research: it should be empirically grounded and methodologically sound; it should be interdisciplinary as well as critical; and its results should be relevant for society. Because of this he is glad to be part of Social Science Works.
Paula Herrera is a Public Policy candidate at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. She is convinced that civil society and its think tanks are key players in the formation of fair, creative and active societies. Connected to this, policy-making must be developed hand-in-glove with a profound reflection on the means of achieving efficient results.
Before arriving to Germany in 2015, Paula worked at the Trade Commission of France in Mexico as an intern for Aeronautical and Security issues, where she helped to facilitate personalized market studies to the French private sector. Previously, Paula worked in different prominent non-governmental institutions; namely at the Colegio de México as a fellow researcher, and at OXFAM LAC, as an assistant of both HR and Business Management departments. Moreover, she has collaborated with the Centro de Estudios Espinosa Yglesias, which is a Mexican non-profit civil association, whose mission is to enrich political debate with policy advice and shed light on governmental decision-processes. Furthermore, in her spare time Paula is an active supporter of the LGBT minority’s organizations.
She holds a BA in Political Science from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (2009-2012), where she graduated with special honours after presenting a thesis that analyses the relationship between the electoral reforms, the economical positions and the degree of democracy of the different Venezuelan regimes. During her BA, Paula travelled to France for an exchange semester at Science Po Strasbourg, where she took several courses related to European Institutions and their contemporary challenges. Thanks to her multicultural upbringing, she is at home in the English, French and Spanish language and culture. Nowadays, she is learning German.
Ilyas Saliba is a research fellow at the Research Unit on Democracy and Democratization at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and a PhD candidate at the Berlin Graduate School for Social Sciences (BGSS) at Humboldt University Berlin. He holds a BA from the University of Hamburg in political Science and a MA in Comparative and international Studies from the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and University of Zurich.
Ilyas’ research lies at the intersection of comparative politics, international relations and regional studies on Middle Eastern politics & societies. He is working on a topic from a comparative political science angle but building on and communicating to other disciplinary fields. The problems he encounters as a consequence of this has motivated him to rethink some of the fundamental assumptions and paradigms that dominate the social sciences.
In his dissertation he explores political decision making and strategies of incumbent regimes and governments during times of public contestation in Morocco and Egypt.
Asaf is a PhD candidate at the iDTR (institute for Dark Tourism Research) at the University of Central Lancashire. Focusing on the large yet under researched dark tourism segment in Berlin, his research is concerned with tour guides’ interpretation, in their role as mediators or ‘Ambassadors of the City’ (Botschafter der Stadt).
Prior to moving to Berlin, Asaf graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Ecotourism from the University of Central Lancashire. In his final thesis he compared the roles and responsibilities of private and NGO ecotourism stakeholders in Ethiopia. In Berlin’s Humboldt University’s Agriculture and Horticulture Faculty, Asaf completed a master degree in Integrated Natural Resource Management (environmental economics). For his master thesis, as part of the LILAC project (Living Landscapes China), he researched socio-environmental coevolution within the team’s focus on adoption of agricultural innovations in the Nabanhe Nature Reserve, China.
His choice of research topics, as well as his interest in Social Science Works, derives from his wish to find the balance between adding to scientific knowledge, and making that knowledge useful, accessible, and common outside the academic circles.
After finishing her Bachelor degree in biological psychology, Katrin Lieck graduated at Maastricht University (Netherlands) with a master in health and social psychology. During her masters she learned theories to explain automatic and reasoned human behaviour in groups and social influence techniques, e.g. to generate and/or change attitudes and behaviours – especially health- and consumer-related ones. For her master thesis Katrin Lieck explored the association between impulsivity and food intake. After graduation in 2013, Katrin Lieck coordinated a multicentre clinical intervention program study at Potsdam University. The aim of this project was to explore self-regulation skills in obese children and adolescents. At Potsdam University, Katrin Lieck also supervised Bachelor- and Master students’ bachelor or master theses. Since June 2016 Katrin Lieck volunteers as intercultural mediator for the organization Start with a Friend e.V. in Berlin and Potsdam.
Patrick Sullivan is a 2018 Master of Public Policy candidate at the Hertie School of Governance. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States, he has Bachelor’s degrees in Economics, Secondary Education, Political Science and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and participated in an exchange semester at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy during his time as an undergraduate. He credits his time abroad for making him a more empathetic, curious, and worldly person. Following his Bachelor’s, he taught courses in Economics, Government, and History –and coached American Football and Golf- in the Shorewood School District in Milwaukee. The areas of study that he is particularly passionate about include wealth and income inequality, behavioral economics, and American politics.