The Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences connects to a growing field of study which has developed over the past few years demonstrating a renewed interest in basic theoretical and methodological questions in the social sciences. Newly emerging approaches try to transcend traditional conflicts of social science methodologies by debating the specific methodological criteria and values of different research strategies.
The summer school uses these recent innovative efforts as a starting point for its endeavor to sensitize the participants to the underlying epistemological, ontological and methodological commitments which theoretical perspectives transport into empirical research. By focusing on the link between theory and empirical data it takes up questions concerning the nature of explanation in social sciences, the use and construction of theoretical concepts and their role in the research process, and the respective values of micro and macro perspectives on social reality including the potentials and pitfalls of their combination.
In addition, the summer school aims at applying these reflections to exemplary empirical fields in political science and sociology in order to transfer the general methodological considerations into the concrete research practices of the participants. Thereby, special emphasis is giving to the advancement of the research designs of the current projects of the participants.
The course of the program
The summer school consists of a two-week program with varied teaching and learning formats. While in the first week we tackle the key methodological challenges that arise in almost all research efforts, the second week is devoted to their consideration within concrete fields of social research. The modules of the first and second week follow a certain didactical course respectively.
Each module of the first week starts with a double lecture reflecting different or complementary methodological positions on the issue under consideration - represented by two international experts in each case who will also briefly comment on each others approach. In the next step participants work on assignments in four smaller groups and discuss the lectures. This is followed by two workshops in two groups with the respective lecturers that focus on the implications for research designs. Here, the lectures and assignments can be discussed with the lecturers more deeply. Each module ends with an offer for short one-to-one consultations with the respective lecturers. Each participant can have at least one consultation within the first week.
The modules of the second week are taking two steps within each thematic group of participants. In the first step the Berlin-based experts give an introduction that relates the considerations of the first week to the respective substantial field of research. In the second, all participants have the opportunity to present and discuss their current research project in depth and to receive feedback and hands-on advice for the methodological challenges arising in their research.
The course is supplemented by the offer of an attractive supportive program containing public events, cultural excursions and social activities.