General Research Agenda of the Faculty

The departments in the Faculty of Human Sciences, and the professors within them, are conducting research in diverse areas and across various disciplines, often from a comparative and international perspective. Most of this work connects with a generic research agenda that can be labelled „Learning Society and Social Inclusion”. This agenda should be understood as a generic framework, referring to various research issues related to individual development, to collective learning and social support, as well as to social integration. Across the various subdivisions of the faculty, the respective activities can be assigned to three general clusters, with many themes being relevant to more than one cluster.

Learning Society and Social Inclusion

  • the individual: diagnostics and intervention
    dynamics in human behaviour and experience
     the foundations and practice of learning and teaching
        -  psychotherapy and social care

  • development and education in complex organisations 
     dynamics in groups & professions
    educational processes in and outside schools

  • human institutions and inclusive communities
     -   social change in contemporary society
         -   change in the educational, social and health care sectors

    equal participation in legal systems and the welfare state

  • The first cluster embraces work undertaken at the micro level of human life. One of the research strands is titled „The Individual: Diagnostics and Intervention“ and deals  with the dynamics in human behaviour and experience, the foundations and the practice of teaching and learning, and with questions arising from the fields of psychotherapy and social support. The focus lies on how individuals develop in cognitive, social and affective/motivational respects and within the tension field between human nature and the environment. In addition, the cluster also engages with  how socialisation and learning is processed and in which ways these aspects interrelate with human development. It is also concerned with how human interaction is taking shape, or should be shaped, in education or social support settings.
  • The second cluster embraces research at the meso level of social life with a focus on the contexts of collective action. The overarching theme is: development and education in complex organisations. Subject matters include dynamics in groups & professions, educational processes in and outside schools as well as organisational design and consultancy. Starting from the observation that groups and organisations (e.g. families; schools, companies, providers of human services) are key to social life, the research examines how individuals behave in such collective contexts, and also the agency and the development of professions. The conceptual foundations and characteristics of practical action in human service organisations (including early childhood services, schools, health care, eldercare institutions and other settings) provide additional objects of enquiry. Moreover, the cluster tackles research on approaches to – as well as problems of – organisational development. It also deals with consultancy provided to human service organisations and to private companies.
  • The third cluster, under the title, human institutions and inclusive communities, places an emphasis on the macro level of social life. In particular it deals with the following themes: social change in contemporary society in relation to all of the aforementioned issues; transformation in the education, social and health care sector; and equal participation in legal systems and in the welfare state. A major research interest consists of how one can make sense of distinctive patterns of human development throughout contemporary societies, such as the diffusion of stress, particular forms of educational experience, or distinctive movements of social stratification. These are all examined in relation to whether all these patterns are amenable to social inclusion or exclusion. Moreover, research conducted in this cluster scrutinizes how integration processes within key spheres of social life – including the educational system, social work, and health care – are changing, or can be changed, especially with respect to the role of legal systems and welfare state institutions.

From the various aforementioned areas, a generic ‘cross-cluster’ research agenda can be inferred that addresses dynamics related to the learning society and social inclusion. The overall research perspective echoes the commitment of the entire university towards being an institution for ‘idea creation’. In addition, it is rooted in traditions stressing the critical orientation of the human sciences. It also draws inspiration from eminent international institutions such as the United Nations or the European Union. In a more general sense, the agenda echoes both the observation of, and the claim for, a ‘learning’ society that can benefit greatly from insights achieved by the human sciences. Thus, the faculty - with its numerous and diverse research activities - is geared towards meeting the most pressing concerns of our times. It maintains a commitment to approaches that do not (yet) conform to the mainstream, and that these should be given particular attention in the context of its various professorships and departments.