Around 100 doctoral researcher representatives from around 70 Leibniz institutes and research museums met this fall in Potsdam to exchange experiences, to network, to elect the new steering committee (SC), and decide on the future of our network. To get the full picture, read on!
Easy start into tough topics
Up on a hill with the promising name Telegraphenberg only 20 minutes from Potsdams monumental center, we ourselves in a kind of parallel world, where all was about science and now that we were there on science policy as well. This year’s General Assembly (GA) of the Leibniz PhD Net was hosted in September (25th to 27th) by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). With the good tradition of BBQ and social activities we kicked it-off and spend a lovely evening chatting, grilling and getting to know each other.
Those easy vibes turned into productive discussions on the second day. But first things first: The day started with a warm welcome by Prof. Ingo Bräuer, PIKS Head of Science Communication and Transfer and our very committed spokespersons Katharina Willenbücher and Jonathan Stefanowski. To our pleasure Prof. Debora Weber-Wulff (HTW Berlin) gave a keynote on misuse of power in academia and whistle-blowing. Her rousing speech led to a long discussion on the challenges doctoral researchers (DRs) face during their career and how to deal with them. Tough topic that a lot of members of the network want to see changed and are working towards it. Inspired for change we went into the “World Cafe” session during which we discussed the positions and new tasks of the working groups (WG) of our network.
Votes, votes, votes
On the second day we voted on changes in the Standing Rules and the new SC for the term 2019/2020. The new spokespersons are Anja Jahn (GWZO) and Jacob L. Gorenflos López (FMP), the new treasurer is Antoine Verrière (MfN), the new spokesperson for section A is Annika Diekmann (DBM), the new spokesperson for section B is Irene Broer (HBI), the new spokesperson for section C is Kristine Oevel (FMP), the new spokesperson for section D is Suyuan Chen (ISAS) and the new spokesperson for section E is Guilherme Abuchahla (ZMT). Congratulations! Inspired by the spirit of the GA and SC 2018/2019, the eight newly elected members are looking forward to carry on the work of the year to come.
Setting up a long term agenda
But there were more decisions to undertake tackling the question which topics the network should focus on most in the upcoming year. Staring into the abyss of climate change and being hosted by one of the leading research centers on this topic 56.3% of the doctoral representatives voted that “greening the institutes” is a very or extremely relevant topic. This was topped by preventing power abuse, which a whopping 56.2% of you consider it to be extremely relevant and 24.7% to be very relevant. Again, this topic that touches us all. You are not alone! The N² Network (us co-working with our friends from Max-Planck and Helmholtz) has published a paper on the prevention of power abuse. If you feel threatened you can contact your local PhD representative or Ombudsperson for help. In an overarching vote on all the topics discussed during the GA the improvement of the contractual situation and mental health were ranked second and third in the list of most important issues (see image below). So the order to the new SC seems clear: improved contract situations, better options to address mental health and power abuse issues and more sustainability. We are excited to see how far we get!
Any last words before?
A big thank you goes to the organizers of this GA: the SC of 2018/19, with a special emphasis of their spokespersons Katharina Willenbücher and Jonathan Stefanowski, and additionally Aman Malik.
The 5th Leibniz PhD Network General Assembly will be hosted by the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education at the University of Kiel (IPN) from 1st to 2rd October 2020. See you there!