Modeling the Anthropocene: New graduate school at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology

July 08, 2024

The Max Planck Society is funding a new graduate school – the International Max Planck Research School for Modeling the Anthropocene (IMPRS-ModA) – at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology with almost 2.7 million euros for 6 years starting in July 2024.

The Anthropocene presents society with unprecedented challenges, requiring new scientific partnerships and interdisciplinary research. To equip the next generation of researchers, the newly established IMPRS-ModA will be a partnership between five institutions: the MPI of Geoanthropology, Bielefeld University, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Leipzig University and Arizona State University. The disciplines involved range from geosciences to physics, prehistory and early history as well as the history of science, psychology and sociology - to name but a few.

"Geoanthropology researches the relationship between humans and their habitat, the Earth, globally and systematically at all levels, in a multidisciplinary manner. Only with such an approach can we contribute to address the challenges of the Anthropocene," explains Prof. Dr. Jürgen Renn, one of the founding directors of the MPI of Geoanthropology.

More than 30 doctoral researchers will carry out individual projects that have been developed in tandem with senior researchers and presented in a symposium. The most promising ideas will then be funded as part of the graduate school. The projects will focus on modeling the development of the Anthropocene, asking how different anthropogenic and ecological factors influence each other, or examining the dynamics of individual changes. Regardless of the specific question, the quality of the models themselves will be of critical importance.

"This diversity of approaches within the IMPRS allows us to study the Human-Earth System in the Anthropocene in a truly transdisciplinary manner," says Prof. Dr. Ricarda Winkelmann, also founding director at the MPI of Geoanthropology. "The graduate school offers a unique framework and shared platform of exchange for all doctoral researchers. At the same time, each doctoral candidate will undergo an individual curriculum tailored to their previous knowledge, dissertation project and career planning."

These individual curricula will include a longer research stay at one of the participating partner institutions, enabling doctoral researchers to expand their portfolio of knowledge and skills - be it through teaching experience or by working in other laboratories.

In addition to support within their working groups, the doctoral researchers will be accompanied by a Thesis Advisory Committee – a team of two supervisors and at least one mentor with whom they meet twice a year.

"This is an important measure to strengthen the connections between the young scientists and the institutions. The new IMPRS offers the best environment for this,” says Gopesh Jha, doctoral researcher at the MPI of Geoanthropology and the first doctoral researchers’ representative in the new graduate school. “We are pleased that the new graduate school is implementing the requirements of doctoral researchers from the entire Max Planck Society.” 

Like all International Max Planck Research Schools, IMPRS-ModA will have a very international focus. The organizers encourage applications from the Global South and will be approaching partners in these regions. As the first institute in the Max Planck Society to be awarded the Total E-Quality predicate, the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology is dedicated to diversity and equal opportunities.

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