Director and founder of Social Science Works is Hans Blokland. Team-members are Mirjam Neebe, Nadia Lejaille, Zak Reimer and Philipp Bautz. Various interns and visiting scholars additionally are part of our team.
Moreover, we are supported by a growing number of Fellows. Please find more about them here.
Prof. Dr. Hans Blokland
Hans Blokland is a Dutch social and political scientist and philosopher, currently living in Potsdam, Germany. He can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the last 30 years Hans Blokland published a large number of books and essays in the overlapping fields of social and political science and philosophy, sociology of culture, political economy, history of thought, and philosophy of science. The essays have been published in a wide variety of academic and professional journals and magazines, addressing many different publics. For his academic work, also visit his personal website. For his more recent publications for Social Science Works, click here.
Hans Blokland worked for the Dutch Ministry of Culture as a senior policymaker, and as a researcher for The Netherlands Institute for Social Research. At Erasmus University Rotterdam he held tenured positions at the departments of Sociology, Public Management, and History and Arts. He was a fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences and held visiting positions at Yale University and Manchester University.
Between 2009 and 2015 Hans Blokland was International Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin teaching in sociology, political science, research design and methods, and philosophy of science. In 2012 he was also appointed on the Corelio-Chair for Media and Democracy at the Free University Brussels. And in 2013 he was appointed on the Alfred Grosser-Chair in sociology of the SciencesPo in France.
A characteristic of Blokland’s work is that he seeks to bring together what erroneously has become more and more separated: social and political philosophy on the one hand, and social and political science on the other hand. This separation habitually has led to philosophies without empirical support and empirical relevance, and to sciences ignorant of fundamental social and political questions and issues, and ignorant of its own epistemological and normative assumptions. Related to this, his work is more problem-driven than has become common in social and political science and philosophy.
Consequently, both in his teachings and research Blokland has increasingly devoted attention to what Charles Lindblom called “Usable Knowledge”. Building on the growing uneasiness within the social and political sciences about the way these disciplines have developed in the last half century, he analyzes the epistemological possibilities and limits of these disciplines, and the characteristics of successful contributions or interventions of social and political science and philosophy in the public discourse and the public decision-making processes. On top of that he explores under the influence of which social and cultural factors and epistemological ideas and assumptions – implicit and explicit, conscious and unconscious – these disciplines continue to operate and develop in ways which according to many too often lead to irrelevancy and meaninglessness.
Mirjam Neebe studied sociology and philosophy at the University of Potsdam and environmental management with a focus on political science at the Free University of Berlin. Her core areas of expertise are empirical social research, migration and integration, and the transformation towards more sustainability. Furthermore, she has long-standing experience in project development and management and holds a certificate as a EU Fundraiser.
Before joining Social Science Works, she was a researcher at the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research, a consultant at Micro Energy International, and a counselor at Flüchtlingshilfe Babelsberg e.V.
One of Mirjam’s research interests focuses on the construction of identity. Her Master thesis was about the hybrid ethnic identities of students belonging to the second generation of Turkish immigrants in Germany. The work reflects on, what migrants often describe as, the crossing of borders between two or more cultural backgrounds. Referring to postcolonial theories Mirjam shows how these young people, who can be regarded as examples of successful integration, create a ‘third space’ with new ethnic identities beyond assimilation into, or demarcation from, the German culture.
Another of her research interests lies in the role of citizens in transformation processes. Examples are the sustainability transformation, but also digitalization and demographic change. Central questions are how citizens can become change agents, actors inventing new ways of living, new products and services which later become general social practices. That implies people taking an active role in the transformation process instead of being guided by powerful social groups. Obviously, this topic is driven by the political quest for more democracy, empowerment and social justice.
At Social Science Works Mirjam is involved in various projects. E.g., she designed and is facilitating the empowerment of refugee woman workshop. She also developed a workshop program for deliberation with prisoners, coached a group of youngsters in the deliberation in web 2.0 project, and is participating in consultant activities like the Rangsdorf Future Workshop.
Nadia Lejaille is a German-French lawyer, specialized in German tax law, and project management.
She worked for 4 years as a project manager and tax compliance officer for a German cooperative bank. She is interested in cultural differences and the integration of refugees in Germany. For several years she has been involved with the association Start with a Friend e.V. as an intercultural mediator. At Social Science Works, she is responsible for the project management of children’s projects, among other things. In her free time she loves to bake and cook for others.
Nils Wadt MA
Nils Wadt has been connected to Social Science Works from the very beginning. Nils finished his Bachelor degree in Sociology and Political Science in Cologne and Frankfurt. Both schools are grounded in different research traditions, Frankfurt with a strong background in Critical Theory (Horkheimer & Adorno, Frankfurter Schule) and Cologne with a strong background in empirical research and methodology (René König, Kölner Schule). Nils completed his graduate degree in Social Science at Humboldt University Berlin integrating the different academic backgrounds.
In his Master thesis Nils researched the political motivations and social values of civil volunteers in the refugee sector. His academic profile is leaning towards qualitative methods backed up by general competence in quantitative analysis. His qualitative focus covers methods such as genealogy, content analysis, as well as a variety of interview techniques and participatory observation.
Besides his studies, Nils Wadt worked at Chairs of Sociology, Political Theory, Psychology and Economics, gaining insights into the different research practices and epistemological groundings.
Within his work and studies in the academy, Nils Wadt apprehended the problems, contemporary social science is facing. This includes not only the separation between empirical research practice and the evaluation of its epistemological assumptions, but also the growing irrelevancy of academic research to civil society. His commitment to the project of Social Science Works is grounded in this apprehension.
Zak Reimer MA
Zak Reimer was a German Chancellor Fellow from the Humboldt Foundation conducting research at Social Science Works into grassroots refugee integration efforts in Germany. More information about his project can be found here.
Zak grew up in the state of Montana, USA and first became interested in the subject of migration after studying the issue at the US/Mexico border in 2016. In 2017, Zak began work with refugees at the newly opened office of the International Rescue Committee in Missoula, Montana. While working to help the community welcome refugees, Zak began asking the questions that led him to pursue his research in partnership with Social Science Works: chiefly, what factors strengthen the role a community plays in integrating refugees and how can successful programs in Germany be replicated in the US?
Zak holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Montana State University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Montana. His other areas of research interest include childhood development, economic justice, and conflict mediation.
Philipp Bautz BA
Philipp studied Public Economics and sociology at the University of Potsdam, as part of a dual-subject bachelor. A wide variety of subjects were at the center of his studies, such as resource and environmental economics, organizational structures, micro economics, statistics and survey design. He is a especially interested in how the economic and ecological spheres influence each other. Also for this reason he wrote a bachelor thesis on the international protection efforts regarding the river Oder, which he approached from a game theory angle. In his spare time he enjoys art, animation, movies, cooking and baking, especially pizza.
Isabel Romijnders BA
Isabel is a recent graduate of the BSc International Development Studies at the Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. Her study focused on policy implementation, grassroots innovation, and human rights philosophy. In her BSc thesis, she explored the accountability of Civil Society Organizations that are active in the humanitarian aid field. She would like to gain a better understanding of bottom-up approaches of organizations that address crucial social issues. Therefore, before starting an MSc, she joined Social Science Works to develop actionable knowledge, practical skills and learn more about addressing issues such as integration, radicalization, and citizen participation.