Open Up – New Research Spaces for the Humanities and Cultural Studies

area of research: humanities and cultural studies, theoretical social sciences
type of funding: research projects; funding of a teaching substitute
up to 250,000 or 350,000 Euro
up to 1.5 years
post-doctoral researchers/project teams in Germany; possible to include international cooperation partners
short application; anonymized selection procedure
additional benefits: funding for communication of science and research

Currently no application, program is being revised

Drei Personen stehen in sich überkreuzenden Kreisen.
Illustration: GettyImages 1083673198


The funding initiative "Open Up – New Research Spaces for the Humanities and Cultural Studies" aims at exploring so far untapped research spaces by funding projects which are primarily concerned with reflecting and exploring new  and original research approaches.This can be done, for example, by bringing together different perspectives in a novel way or by exploring new methodological approaches. In any case, it is about the process of exploring that creates space for the new and unpredictable – not about the final answer to a question or justification of a hypothesis. Explicitly sought are projects with a high degree of originality which can also be accompanied by a corresponding high-risk character of the project – the possibility of not achieving the envisaged project goals therefore does not provide an argument against the approval of the project.

The initiative follows the assumption that new ideas and research spaces open up more easily where different perspectives come together in new constellations. By funding research collaborations of two or three researchers, the Foundation intends to facilitate the full creative potential of such an interaction of different expertise and perspectives.

Scope of Funding

The funding initiative addresses teams of two or three researchers who aim to explore new and original research spaces. During a funding period of up to 1.5 years, projects with two project partners can be funded with up to 250.000 euros. Projects with three project partners can be funded with up to 350.000 euros.

In order to expedite processing and enable quick decisions, the selection procedure has been trimmed and made as straightforward as possible. After pre-selection on the part of the Volkswagen Foundation, a final selection is done by a panel of experts. An anonymized review within the final selection ensures that the originality and explorative character of the approach remains the sole selection criterion.
Details of requirements as well as the application procedure can be found under Information for Applicants 102 (pdf). Applications must be filed electronically via the electronic application system.


The funding initiative "Open Up" continues the initiative "Original – isn’t it? New Options for the Humanities and Cultural Studies" in a modified form. From its establishment in 2014 to its modification in 2021, 96 projects were funded as part of „Original – isn’t it?". The call is part of the Foundations’ profile area Exploration.