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Message posted on 27/02/2019

Call for Posters for the International Symposium of the Volkswagen Foundation: "Academia in the Age of Comparison: Methodological and Empirical Perspectives in an Interdisciplinary Dialogue"

Call for Posters for the International Symposium of the Volkswagen

(Extended Deadline / Program Update)

Academia in the Age of Comparison: Methodological and Empirical
Perspectives in an Interdisciplinary Dialogue

Conference Center Herrenhausen Palace, Hannover, Germany, 13-14th June 2019

organized by Anna Kosmtzky, Julian Hamann and Frerk Blome, Leibniz Center
for Science and Society (LCSS), Hannover, Germany

Academia is in an age of comparison. Momentous processes like globalization,
marketization, and digitalization are not only of general societal
relevance, but are also pushed by and simultaneously push comparisons in
academia. In this climate, comparison strikes back. Scholars not only
conduct comparisons as a research method, but also turn into units of
comparison themselves. Instead of conceiving comparisons as a mere
intellectual operation with few social consequences, or as a social process
that is not based on very specific methodological implications, we would
like to emphasize the double role of comparisons as an intellectual
operation in research practice, and as a social practice that contributes to
creating an academic social order. The symposium will facilitate, first, an
interdisciplinary dialogue among researchers who pursue methodological and
empirical perspectives on comparisons, and, second, provide a more detailed
understanding of comparisons in and of academia. We have invited
internationally renowned scholars of the field of comparison to pursue these
perspectives. The program of the symposium (see below) is structured
alongside the following four topics:

1. The relations between comparator and the compared

2. Devices and instruments of comparison

3. Consequences of comparison

4. Histories and trajectories of comparison

Call for Posters:

We would like to invite six early career researchers to present their
ongoing studies on relations, devices and instruments, consequences, and
historical backgrounds of comparison(s) in academia. In a
one-and-a-half-hour poster session, authors of posters will have the
opportunity to present their work and discuss the posters with the audience.

We welcome contributions from a variety of disciplines across science
studies and higher education research and with a methodological,
theoretical, or empirical focus on Academia in the Age of Comparison. To
our delight, we are able to sponsor both travel and accommodation for all
poster presenters.

Proposal Submissions and Deadlines

Please send your abstracts by email to
They should contain a title and a maximum of 600 words. The deadline for
submissions is 18.03.2019. We will send our responses to the applications on


Frerk Blome

Leibniz Center for Science and Society (LCSS), Leibniz Universitt Hannover
(LUH) Lange Laube 32, 30159 Hannover, Germany

Email: Phone: +49 511 762 14585

Symposium Program

Wednesday, 12.06.2019

18:00 get together, drinks and snacks at LCSS

19:00 Dinner

Thursday, 13.06.2019

10:00-10:30 Coffee

10:30-11:00 Anna Kosmtzky, Julian Hamann, Frerk Blome (LCSS, Hannover):
Introduction: Academia and the Double Role of Comparison

11:00-12:00 David J. Frank (University of California, Irvine): Keynote: The
University in Comparative Perspective: Sameness and Difference.

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-15:00 Slot 1: Histories and trajectories of comparison

Tobias Werron, Leopold Ringel, Jelena Brankovic (University of Bielefeld):
Where do rankings come from? The emergence and institutionalization of
rankings in different societal fields

Angelika Epple, Walter Erhart (University of Bielefeld): Is There an Age of
Comparison? Comparative Practices from Antiquity to Present Times

Annette Simonis (University of Gieen): From Comparison of Arts to
Comparative Media Studies

David Kaldewey (University of Bonn): Comment

15:00-15:30 Coffee

15:30-17:30 Slot 2: The comparator and the compared

Ruth Mller (Technical University Mnchen): Bigger, better, faster, more?
Narratives of excellence in contemporary academia

Joe Deville (Lancaster University), Michael Guggenheim (Goldsmiths,
University of London): How to Make Good Comparators

Justin Powell, Marcelo Marques (University of Luxembourg): From Ratings to
Rankings: Research Evaluation and Strategic Organizational Actors

Romy Whlert (University of Leipzig): Comment

17:30-19:00 Poster and Pitch(ers) Session

19:30 Dinner

Friday, 14.06.2019

09:00-10:00 Bernhard Ebbinghaus (University of Mannheim/Oxford University).
Keynote: Are welfare regime typologies an ideal or realistic comparison of
and for public policy?

10:00-10:30 Coffee

10:30-12:30 Slot 3: Devices and instruments of comparison

Michael Sauder (University of Iowa, IA): Rankings as Devices of Comparison

Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner (CWTS, Leiden): Filling in the gaps: The
interpretation of CVs in peer review

Martina Franzen (WZB Berlin Social Science Center): Comment

12:30-13:30 Lunch

13:30-15:30 Slot 4: Consequences of comparison

Richard Watermeyer (University of Bath), Jennifer Chubb (University of
Sheffield): REFability and the insidious effects of institutional and
individual competitiveness

Lars Alberth (University of Hannover): Universities between comparability
and incomparability

Frank Meier (Helmut-Schmidt-Uni Hamburg): Competition between Higher
Education Institutions

Merle Hummrich (University of Frankfurt): Comment

15:30-16:00 Coffee

16:00-17:00 Final discussion and closing remarks
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