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Zukunftskolleg Exchange Network: interdisciplinary Talent (ZENiT)

About ZENiT

The purpose of the programme

Researchers at an early career stage have to focus on a single research question in order to become the best in their fields, gain visibility and create a successful career. At the same time, this is a career stage in which new questions, often across disciplinary boundaries, become particularly interesting: creating tomorrows ideas! These projects are best pursued as groups, with the best colleagues from across the world, and need preparation – but often the structures within our universities are not ideal for creating such groups.

The Zukunftskolleg ZENiT Research Group allows the creation of a group, which would meet in Konstanz over the course of three years, to develop such ideas: maybe write a joint book, or a grant application; develop a new research idea; found a new society, or establish a specialized meeting series; invent a new discipline at the interface of related ones; create a new show or exhibition, or follow the dream project on the sidelines of your current focus: think big, think long-term, think creative.together!

Application information

Please send as a single pdf document:

(1) An application with the following information:

- name and complete contact information of applicant (telephone number, university mail box and email address)

- university department and chair with which the Fellow is associated

- title of the research project

- what is the time-line, how often will you meet (online, hybrid and in person), and propose a preliminary agenda! Please do consider sustainability issues in your planning!

- calculation of the requested budget (travel money, consumables, publication expenses; you can include costs for research to be conducted between meetings. Costs are permissible within DFG funding rules)

- statement about the necessary non-monetary institutional support (e.g. spaces, organizational support, academic support, etc.)

- statement about the necessary monetary institutional support (e.g. Hiwi-support, workshop expenses, etc.)

- who are your partners, and what are their competences and their role within your group

- date (no automatic date entries!) and applicant’s signature.

(2) Additional documents:

- project proposal (5 pages max).
The proposal should include (within the 5 pages max length) the long-term goal! Where are you, what do you expect to know in 3 years, that you do not know now? Do you foresee a sequel for the group?

- short cv (3 pages max.) of the applicant

- letters of consent and short CVs (3 pages max/each) of your partners.


  • You generally hold a PhD, you have a (postdoc) position at the University of Konstanz, you do not (yet) have tenure.
  • Your position should ideally be available to you for the whole project time. If that is not the case, propose a scenario for how you will follow the project after your working contract termination!
  • Any department is eligible.

The research group

Your partners should have complementary expertise to your own, in order to create synergistic effects. They should be active academics and/or artists or they might come from other fields in any place in the world. They should ideally hold a PhD (or equivalent grade if in an artistic discipline), and may well have tenure or be emeriti. Interdisciplinarity and diversity is encouraged.

The group needs to be international, but more than one member per institution (including Konstanz) is permissible.

The team activities

Team activities are only limited by your fantasy (and by the budget). Surprise us, surprise yourself!

Our offer

The Zukunftskolleg ZENiT Research Group comes with two packages:

(1) the group is funded according to the submitted cost plan (with – if necessary – the amendments requested by the Recruitment Committee), with up to €100.000 to be spent within the three years of the project duration. This money is intended for the meetings, and for necessary research to be conducted during the time between meetings. Just as an example, a prolonged research stay of yours at another university or in an archive, a major equipment item, the extension of a PhD salary.

(2) You will be a Zukunftskolleg Research Fellow, with the following benefits:

  • An interdisciplinary community with a weekly Jour fixe during teaching term
  • Research funds upon application, decided by the Zukunftskolleg’s Executive Committee
  • An international, interdisciplinary network and visibility
  • € 3.000/year research funds, upon decision by the Executive Committee.

Our selection criteria

  1. Eligibility, as stated above.
  2. The academic originality and quality of the research proposal
  3. The feasibility of the research plan
  4. The accuracy of the proposed budget
  5. The appropriateness of the research group members
  6. Diversity of network members
  7. Congruency to the 5i strategy of the Zukunftskolleg
  8. Considerations for sustainability within a finite planet