In the Spotlight: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
Euro-Scholars at LMU – a mutual reaction of research and education
As a genuine "universitas" with a broad range of subjects, LMU Munich provides excellent conditions for innovative basic research, both within individual disciplines and through inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations across various fields of knowledge. 700 professors and 3,600 academic staff members perform research and teach in 18 faculties and numerous research centers. LMU’s long tradition as a top-level European research university is also demonstrated in its international character and its areas of academic cooperation from research to teaching and student exchange. For example, the university was a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU).
Promoting the next generation of researchers is essential for an innovative university. LMU Munich provides talented doctoral students and postdocs with a wide variety of training options, including the EuroScholars program.
Starting in Autumn, an advanced young student will be part of the research project ”Runic Writing in the Germanic Languages (RuneS)” at the Department of English and American Studies a LMU. The EuroScholars student will be able to carry out her own research. She will not only be part of the team but will also gain an insight into the neighboring disciplines Scandinavian and German studies and the ”otherness” of Scandinavian and Continental runic inscriptions.
“The project deals with the runic script as a writing system within its historico-cultural context in a comprehensive way focusing in particular on phonemic, graphematic and text-pragmatic aspects,” says Dr. Gaby Waxenberger, research associate and Supervisor of the project.
Apart from editorial work, research on runic monuments has hitherto concentrated predominantly on understanding the text of the individual inscriptions and their historico-cultural interpretation. The runes as a writing system (respectively a group of writing systems) with different socio-cultural functions have rarely been in focus.
“Our project, in contrast, explicitly regards the runic script as a system evolved in various ways over the centuries, fulfilling various communicative functions within the different historical societies it was used in,” she adds.
There will be two principal domains of investigation: The first domain deals with the transfer of sounds into graphic characters. “We will look at the system of sounds in its relation to the system of graphic signs and among other things focus on the following questions: Was the system of runic characters fitted "perfectly" to the sound systems of the Germanic languages? Did this apply in all cases and in all places? Were there any developments in the system of the graphic characters over the long period of its use, and if so, what were the causes?”, Waxenberger explains.
The second domain deals with the relation of oral speech to written utterances. What kinds of utterances were written down? Previous interpretations of individual texts have attempted to classify inscriptions according to content, without this always being done consistently. Attempts at determining the functions of the script itself have for a long time revolved mostly around the opposition of magic/ritual vs. profane. As a preliminary step, the aim is to develop a system that will allow for the description of the inscriptions as text types. Read more about Dr. Waxenberger's project here
From Geosciences to Media Conflicts
Likewise, LMU Munich offers a number of research projects open to highly motivated EuroScholars every year: from Geosciences to the history of English language teaching, from molecular pharmacology to personal rights in german civil law – the latest project being an international analysis of the role of media in/for conflicts. The complete list of projects for a semester as junior researcher at LMU is published on www.euroscholars.eu
Perspective from a EuroScholar: Jessica (Peijia) Yuan's (University of California, Berkeley) experience at Leuven University, Spring 2011
Although I have only been in Leuven a short time, coming here has been better than I could have imagined. Mine is a bit of an unusual situation, since I lived for a while in Leuven when I was young. Since it is my first time back in over a decade, it was a jolt at first readjusting to all the little differences, such as the coin deposit slots in shopping trolleys and the separate bike lanes. However, it was easy to adjust quickly, given my pleasant surroundings. Leuven is a beautiful city, and it has been a very special experience for me to be able to revisit places of my childhood and even reunite with one of my good friends from elementary school. It was as if no time had passed between us!
I have also been working in the organic synthesis lab here for only a matter of days, but I can safely say that I felt completely welcomed by my supervisors and lab mates upon starting work here. For me, it is definitely exciting to be able for the first time to apply all of the theoretical knowledge I have gained in my classes to experiments with practical applications closely down the line. An additional aspect of my experience here is that I use Dutch to communicate in the lab, so between daytime in the lab and nighttime at my Dutch class, I am constantly surrounded by the language. In this way, I am able to experience a more complete immersion in a language that I normally receive little to no exposure to on a daily basis in the U.S., so this is quite a rare opportunity for me.
In short, I have been very happy so far here in Leuven. I hope to have an enriching and productive educational experience during my time here, and I hope the other EuroScholars participants have had nothing but positive experiences as well!