Jana Berkessel will be the first German early-stage researcher to receive the “Heritage Dissertation Research Award”. The international award of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) is awarded to doctoral students in the last phase of their dissertation project to support them in their research. Berkessel is a researcher at the Chair of Cross-Cultural Social and Personality Psychology, headed by Professor Jochen E. Gebauer, at the University of Mannheim. She proposed studies on the socio-economic and socio-cultural causes of psychological wellbeing, with a special focus on the role of religion.
Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Beate Kohler has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the European Consortium for Political Research (EPCR). Kohler shares the prize with French political scientist Jean Blondel. The professor emerita, still known in academic circles by her former name Beate Kohler-Koch, researched and taught at the School of Social Sciences of the University of Mannheim for many years. As a longstanding member of the board, she helped shape the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), which today is the largest university-based institute for social sciences in Germany. At the MZES, Kohler managed around 30 research projects with countless partners around the world.
Dr. Dieter Thoma, senior lecturer at the Chair of Psycholinguistics (Anglistik I) and Professor Dr. Holder Hopp of TU Braunschweig receive the award for the best study on foreign language acquisition published in international journals. The linguists have received the 2022 Paul Pimsleur Award of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The award honors their contribution in Modern Language Journal, in which the two researchers show that the targeted use of grammatical comparisons to other languages leads to significant learning progress in primary-school children learning English as a foreign language. Children develop a better understanding of English grammar if the teacher addresses similarities with and differences to other languages.
The Volkswagen Foundation has awarded the “Opus Magnum” fellowship to the Professor of History for his book on ancient sports and social history (in German: “Antiker Sport: eine Sozialgeschichte”). The fellowship includes funding for a substitute, who takes over the duties at the chair for three semesters. In his “Opus Magnum” (Latin for masterpiece), Mann aims to answer basic questions on the athletes competing in combat sports, running, long jump and throwing. To which social class did they belong? What were the promotion aspects for successful athletes? How were the athletes organized and what was their social standing? The main focus is on ancient Olympic Games as well as many other competitions in ancient Greece between 700 BC and AD 500. Mann aims, in particular, to explain the importance of athletic competitions in societal exclusion and integration processes. In general, athletic competitions were a domain of the citizens but in many cases, women and even slaves participated as well.
The University of Mannheim mourns the loss of Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Knut Borchardt who passed away on 5 February 2023 at the age of 93. From 1966 until 1967, Borchardt was President of the University of Mannheim. In 1962, Borchardt accepted the newly established professorship of Economic History and Economics at the Wirtschaftshochschule Mannheim. A few years after his appointment, Borchardt took over the office of the President. Back then, the term of office was one year. During his term, the Wirtschaftshochschule received university status, and Borchardt proclaimed the institution’s renaming. In 1969, when the entire President’s Office stepped down due to the constitution dispute, the Ministry of Education appointed the former President Borchardt as temporary administrator (Amtsverweser) for a few weeks to manage presidential affairs. In the same year, Borchardt accepted a professorship in Munich, where he stayed until he retired as a professor emeritus in 1991.
Professor Jutta Mata, holder of the chair of Health Psychology, was appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). The Scientific Advisory Board consists of twelve internationally recognized researchers. The independent body assesses the research of the DIW and is involved in appointment procedures and similar processes. The renowned health psychologist joined the University of Mannheim in 2015. Her research focuses on eating behavior and physical activity, also in relation to sustainability and social inequality. Mata will join the Scientific Advisory Board on 1 April. The term of office is four years.
Over the next twelve months, the commission is to address the revision of legislation on reproductive medicine and the future of Section 218 of the German Criminal Code (StGB) regulating abortion. In their coalition agreement, the German Traffic Light coalition comprising the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, had agreed to examine the possibility of regulating abortion outside of the criminal law as well as options for legalizing egg donation and surrogate parenting. At the end of February, the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) announced the start of work by the commission that has been set up for this purpose. Jochen Taupitz, senior professor of Private Law, Law of Civil Procedure, Private International Law and Comparative Law at the University of Mannheim, will play a part in one of the two working groups appointed by the commission.