The Volkswagen Foundation combines support both for individual researchers as well as institutions via the funding initiative “Lichtenberg Professorships”. Outstanding (young) researchers are offered a tenure-track at a university of their choice in Germany, enabling them to carry out independent research in innovative and interdisciplinary areas for longer periods of time.
Traditional university structures often make it extremely difficult to embark on new and unconventional lines of research. There is also a lack of longer-term prospects at German universities for young researchers starting out on their independent research careers.
The Lichtenberg Professorships were conceived both as a means of attracting outstanding researchers as well as helping to establish innovative academic teaching and new lines of research at German universities. The funding initiative enables grantees to plan with greater certainty, thus creating the opportunity for independent work in their own new lines of research.
Scope of Funding
The Foundation offers outstanding researchers funding for periods of between five and eight years. Working independently, they are enabled to pursue and establish new and interdisciplinary lines of research at a university of their choice at an especially early stage of their career. The funding offer is open to outstanding (young) researchers from all disciplines. As a rule, they should have gathered some experience working abroad and have been awarded their doctorate within the past four to seven years. Similar to the Anglo-Saxon model of tenure track option and subject to positive evaluation, the hosting university agrees to appoint the Lichtenberg Professor to a permanent professorship at a later date.
Details of conditions and the application procedure can be found under Information for Applicants (pdf). Applications must be filed electronically via the electronic application system.
The “Lichtenberg Professorships” initiative started in 2002.