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Planetary Scholars & Artists in Residence Program ( 2022-2025)

Call for Applications 2022: Planetary Materials

On behalf of the Panel on Planetary Thinking , we are pleased to invite applications for an innovative fellowship program based at the Justus-Liebig-Universität (JLU) in Giessen, Germany. The four-year program aims to stimulate transdisciplinary dialogues between the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and the arts. In 2022, two fellowships will be awarded for the summer term, and two for the winter term to explore Planetary Materials . The fellowships last for three months, either to be realized within the period April-July or September-December. To contribute to each year’s thematic focus, we are seeking individuals who are willing to transgress disciplinary boundaries within and resulting from their advanced academic or artistic endeavors.

The iconic Pale Blue Dot image taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft © NASA

Fellows of the Planetary Scholars & Artists in Residence Program will receive the unique opportunity to engage in transdisciplinary dialogues while exploring how academia and the arts grapple with the manifold relations between societies and the planet . Drawing on academic work can not only amplify the magnitude and profundity of art works but also inspire them, and vice versa . In providing the space and conditions for intensive, collaborative work in transdisciplinary tandems, we intend to initiate ‘planetary projects’ to explore what it means that we do not just live on, but are part of an ever-changing planet. With this call we invite applications which focus on (1) Planetary Materials (2022). The topics for the four consecutive calls will be addressing (2) Planetary Spaces (2023), (3) Planetary Times (2024), (4) Planetary Agency (summer term 2025), and (5) Planetary Politics (winter term 2025).

Planetary Thinking on Planetary Materials

The overarching questions the fellowship program aims to address touch upon the following dimensions:

  • In retrospect : How did planetary forces form us? How did diverse societies acquire planetary forces that are capable of transforming Earth?
  • Concerning the present : How can different societies deal with irregular-regular planetary changes that are beyond their influence? What does it mean to have such power, how should it be deployed and when should it be withheld?
  • And prospectively : Which planetary forces beyond our influence can we anticipate? Which planetary dynamics can we ally or reunite with, and which alliances should we quit (if possible)?

Possible foci for the first round of fellows working on or directly with Planetary Materials (2022) could include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • existing and/or imaginary materials from terrestrial and/or extraterrestrial spheres, such as the elements, (star)dust, plastic, sand, fragments of meteorites;
  • ‘organic’ and/or ‘mechanical’ forms of life and/or other materials (e.g., bacteria, viruses, artificial intelligence, genetically modified organisms);
  • ‘alive’ and/or ‘dead’ materials, particularly those through which planetary changes manifest (e.g., fossils, tree trunks, glaciers);
  • abstract planetary phenomena (e.g., climate change, ocean acidification, earthquakes, floods, evolution, species extinction);
  • forms of media addressing planetary perspectives (e.g. environmental storytelling, inter-species music and art, performances).

While we wish to stress the open range of possible projects, an overarching agenda to further an understanding of Planetary Materials , especially by rendering them visible, tangible, and/or palpable by academic or creative means should be evident.

Fellowship Awards

JLUs very own castle of Rauischholzhausen – the ideal venue for your co-organized workshops, performances, exhibitions, installations, or further festivities. ©JLU / Katrina Friese

All fellows are expected to take up residence in Giessen (or close by) throughout their three-month fellowships. They will be granted a monthly stipend of 5,000 euros/month , to cover all travel and living expenses. In addition, funding for workshops, guest speakers, exhibitions, publications etc. can be made available upon request. During their residence in Giessen, fellows will be fully integrated into the JLU’s institutional network and benefit from its comprehensive range of research facilities . Fellows are expected to participate in regular panel meetings, such as the Planetary Lecture Series (starting in 2022), and to design an engaging workshop for and possibly with a transdisciplinary audience. Preferably in collaboration with their co-fellow artist/scholar, fellows may conceptualize the workshops in a format of their choosing, such as a masterclass, depending on their individual, scholarly and/or artistic subject matters.

Office spaces of the Panel on Planetary Thinking. © Liza Bauer

Comfortable and reasonably-priced one-room apartments with fully equipped kitchens have been reserved in the university’s ‘ Alexander von Humboldt’ guest house , but fellows are welcomed to take up residence elsewhere according to their preferences. They will be provided with their own, newly renovated and furnished office spaces and/or studios at the Panel on Planetary Thinking ’s headquarters within the city center―inside one of Giessen’s most characteristic, old-style buildings (right photograph).

Fellows will also be integrated into academic life at the JLU, have full access to its libraries and academic support, and have the opportunity to attend a wide range of regular events. As we work in close cooperation with the JLU’s international office, future fellows will receive support with any formalities connected to their stay in Giessen (e.g., questions about health insurance, visas or registering at city hall). Please do not hesitate to contact us with any specific requests you might have in this regard.

Requirements and Application Procedure

Fellows must have a demonstrated advanced academic or artistic record relevant to Planetary Materials. They must commit to a stay of three months and take up residence in or close to Giessen. They should also be willing to participate actively in the activities outlined above and (co-)organize one workshop.

The application (in English) should include the following:

  1. Cover letter (one page)
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Project description (one page)
  4. Tentative abstract for workshop or alternative format (one page)
  5. Outline of any specific requests (e.g., materials/equipment needed, individual requirements with regards to furnishing office spaces/studios)

Applicants are welcome to apply individually or as transdisciplinary pairs (artist & scholar) with a specific project in mind to which they will dedicate their fellowship. Those submitting joint applications are welcome to compile a full application each while emphasizing the points of contact between their projects.

The deadline for applications is 5 th December, 2021. Applications must be sent via email to . Shortlisted applicants may be invited for online interviews in December 2021, decisions will be announced by the end of the year. You can find a pdf version of the call under this link .

We are very much looking forward to reading your applications!