The Two Cultures

In modernity, it is a basic assumption about science that it is divided into “two cultures” – facing one another almost speechless: the humanities and the (natural) sciences.

What is not commonly reflected upon, however, is the fact that this division has arisen rather recently – it dates back only to the nineteenth century. Moreover, it is arguably much less self-evident in the scientific practice itself than otherwise suggested by outward appearances.

The research group (RG) Two Cultures concerns itself with the history and presence of the “two cultures”. It investigates how the distinction is affecting the self-image of the actors involved, which social and field-strategic functions it fulfills and in what relationship it stands to the scientific practice. In this way, the RG also contributes to a more thorough understanding of the interdisciplinary endeavor. In the face of the ubiquitous call for interdisciplinary research, a discussion of its foundations seems highly desirable. What kind of challenges do different disciplinary constellations imply? Is it more difficult to find a common language for collaboration when scientists from both the humanities and natural sciences are involved? Such questions are critically reflected here and discussed in various forms of dialogue.

September 10, 2021: Remembering, differently?

On the occasion of the joint project Wissensstadt Berlin 2021 („Berlin - City of Knowledge 2021“), the city of Berlin as a research and science location is presenting itself to a broad public in numerous events this year. The 200th birthdays of Hermann von Helmholtz and Rudolf Virchow, who both worked at the intersection of science, politics and society and who shaped today's "Knowledge City Berlin" in the 19th century, serve as the occasion for this project.

With an event titled "Remembering, differently?", the Junge Akademie is also participating in the project. In this half-day event, members of the Junge Akademie want to go beyond the birthdays of Helmholtz and Virchow and discuss forms of remembering and possibilities of writing history in the arts, science and humanities. In short impulses and joint discussions, we want to explore remembering the other in two stages.

2020: Cha(lle)nging Perspectives with Gert Scobel

2020: Debate contribution "Institutes of Advanced Study - Opportunities and Problems for Early Career Researchers"

The Institutes of Advanced Study (IAS) are becoming increasingly important in the German research area because researchers depend on the freedom they are given and because IAS succeed in meeting the call for interdisciplinary work. Numerous IAS have been founded in recent years, each with a different focus in its programmes. For many of them, the involvement of early career researchers is still new and relatively untested. The research group the “The Two Cultures" has systematically addressed this topic in two workshops in June and November 2019 and as a result has produced a debate contribution to the debate on the opportunities and problems of IAS from the perspective of early career

Debate contribution (PDF)

2019: Workshop „IAS – Chancen und Probleme aus nachwuchswissenschaftlicher Perspektive“

On 11 and 12 November 2019, the Two Cultures research group held a workshop on the topic “Institutes of Advanced Study – Challenges and Potential from the Perspective of Early Career Researchers” at the Historischen Kolleg in München. The workshop was organised and led by Fabian Krämer and Sebastian Matzner.

This event saw the research group accept an invitation from the German Council of Science and Humanities to incorporate the specific needs, ideas and concerns of early career researchers into the ongoing discussion within the Council’s committee for developmental perspectives for Institutes of Advanced Studies in Germany. As a result of the workshop, Sebastian Matzner presented a contribution to the debate written by the research group to the committee, on which he serves as an external expert.

2019: Workshop „Spaces of (Inter-)Disciplinarity“

On July 4 and 5, 2019, the "Two Cultures" research group gathered at NIAS Amsterdam for a workshop on the topic of "Spaces of (Inter-)Disciplinarity." The workshop was organized and moderated by Fabian Krämer and Sebastian Matzner. Its concrete goal was to collect interdisciplinary perspectives for a report on the currently uncertain future of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) in Germany.

2018: Vortrag und Diskussion mit Peter Burke

The research group “The Two Cultures” welcomed cultural historian Peter Burke to a lecture followed by a discussion on October 12, 2018 in the ICI Berlin.

2018: Workshop on "The Two Cultures in the Practice of Research"

What effects does the demarcation between the humanities and sciences have on research practices within the individual disciplines? How can a “crisis of the humanities” be discussed in the context of this dichotomy? How can researchers on either side of the divide share their findings best with the other “culture” ? At the invitation of Dr. Eva Buddeberg and the “Emergence of Normative Orders” cluster, the “Two Cultures” research group met on June 15, 2018 at Goethe University Frankfurt toa address these issues in an exploratory workshop.

2016: Workshop on “Borderline Phenomena between the Sciences and Humanities”

What exactly are the “cultural” differences between the sciences and the humanities? In what ways do the “two cultures” interact? Are “crossovers” possible at the interface between the sciences and humanities? To consider these and related questions, the research group “Two Cultures” gathered at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin at its invitation for an exploratory workshop on September 18, 2016.

participating Members

participating Alumnae / Alumni