BEYOND BORDERS supports research about borders and boundaries in past and present times. It promotes interdisciplinary exchange in social sciences and humanities. The Call for Applications 2020 was open till January 15, 2021, and focused “Borders, Democracy and Security”.


Borders are an integral part of our everyday life. Political, social, virtual, intellectual and cultural borders are hotly contested, both in international contexts around issues of migration, security, trade, or global education and within nations trying to deal with increased diversity and changing notions of national culture and history. Geographical borders separate states, regions and cities. They mark the breadth and depth of territorial organization while informal symbolic and social boundaries define values and norms for social, cultural, and religious life. All types of borders can be conceived as social constructs: They may refer to cultural and historical backgrounds, result from international treaties or political negotiations or reflect public debates on controversial topics.
In our increasingly globalized world in which human mobility and the constant circulation of goods, objects, ideas and practices are also an integral part of everyday life, the importance of border making and crossing is growing. Borders and cross-border regions function therefore as manifestations of social, political, economic and cultural change.

Focus 2020

Borders, Democracy and Security

The unprecedented travel bans and closures of national borders during this time of COVID-19 make borders more visible than ever before. However, the ad-hoc restrictions introduced in spring 2020 were selective: Citizens, permanent residents, migrant workers judged “essential” for health care, social welfare and public services could still enter “sealed” national territories. Other travelers such as temporary residents, visitors, circular migrant workers or refugees were excluded. The numerous images of extensive controls and closed doors, and at the same time, new forms of cross-border political, economic, cultural life that emerged in response, made clear how regionally and globally interdependent we have become.

How does globalization influence the dismantling and the resurrection of borders worldwide, be they political, economic, cultural or intellectual? Which borders and boundaries are shifting and why? What kinds of new pathways of connections and cooperation are emerging in response? What kinds of historical processes have led to the transformation of borders and border regimes? How do these challenge longstanding power hierarchies? To what extent might cultural revolutions transform or pull apart borders and boundaries? Can democracy function beyond national borders? How are the relationships between citizens and state changing with respect to rights and social protection, and how does that differ in different regions of the world?

Questions concerning borders, state transformation, democracy, social welfare, and security are the focus of the current call for applications for Ph.D. scholarships. We encourage applications for projects concentrating on following aspects, although other topics will also be considered:

We invite applications from Ph.D. students worldwide studying borders and bordering phenomena in different regions of the world. Both empirical research based on extensive fieldwork and projects centered on theoretical reflection are eligible for support. Innovative and challenging research questions as well as comparative approaches are highly welcome.


provides scholarships for different stages of Ph.D. research

Start Up Scholarships
for advanced master’s students and Ph.D. students in an early stage of project formulation
Duration: 10 months
Monthly living stipend of € 1,200
Dissertation Proposal Development Workshop

Ph.D. Scholarships
for Ph.D. students enrolled in Ph.D. programs or admitted to an individual Ph.D. scheme
Duration: one to three years
Monthly living stipend of € 1,400
Yearly Students’ Conference

Dissertation Completion Scholarships
for advanced Ph.D. students
Duration: one year
Monthly living stipend of € 1,400
Yearly Students’ Conference

Advisory Board

Akosua Adomako Ampofo
Professor at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon President, African Studies Association of Africa

Michael Goebel
Professor of International History, Pierre Du Bois Chair Europe and the World, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Peggy Levitt
Chair, Department of Sociology, Wellesley College
Associate, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
Co-Founder, Global (De)Centre

Noora Lori
Assistant Professor of International Relations Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University

Steffen Mau
Professor of Macrosociology, Department of Social Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Shalini Randeria
Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna
Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
Director Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy

Ranabir Samaddar
Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group

Jens Schneider
Senior Researcher at the Institute of Migration Studies and Intercultural Studies, Universität Osnabrück
Co-Founder, Global (De)Centre

Sören Urbansky
Head of Office & Research Fellow, Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington at UC Berkeley
Visiting Professor, Department of History, Central European University Vienna


The application deadline for scholarships starting in Summer or Fall 2021 was January 15, 2021.
We will communicate the results in May 2021. The next call for applications will open in October 2021.


ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius
Feldbrunnenstrasse 56
20148 Hamburg

Dr. Anna HofmannAcademic Director
+49 (0) 40 41 336 785

Mail to Dr. Anna Hofmann

Jane BartelsScholarships Coordinator
+49 (0) 40 41 336 770

Mail to Jane Bartels

Marcella ChristianiPublic Relations
+49 (0) 40 41 336 775

Mail to Marcella Christiani

ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius

The liberal spirit of Hamburg and Gerd Bucerius’ unflagging willingness to embrace the new - it is these two sources of inspiration that define the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. Its activities are centered on research and scholarship, art and culture as well as education and training. The flagship of the Foundation is the Bucerius Law School, founded in 2000 as the first private university for law studies in Germany, and already a strong and innovative force in its academic discipline. The establishment of the Bucerius Kunst Forum in the heart of Hamburg underlines the importance of the Foundation for the arts. Intercultural dialogue is at the center of the Foundation’s international activities spanning above all Central and Eastern Europe, the United States, and Israel.

As a lawyer, politician and publisher of the weekly newspaper “DIE ZEIT”, Gerd Bucerius (1906-1995) defended individual and political rights and freedoms, wherever he considered them at risk. His biographer, Lord Ralf Dahrendorf, characterized Gerd Bucerius as a “true liberal, independent and free”. In all his endeavors, Gerd Bucerius never once shied away from difficult and sometimes highly contentious questions. Despising complacency, he turned his newspaper into a forum for cosmopolitan debate and controversy. With BEYOND BORDERS the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius strives to live up to his spirit.