REMEP Curriculum

The integrated multidisciplinary curricular activities of the IMPRS REMEP are designed for a three-year period. The language of instruction is English. Participation in most tutorials and workshops is mandatory. A conscious decision was made not to put a credit system in place. The group of doctoral students is relatively small, with diverse academic backgrounds represented. Therefore, the main aim is to ensure that the students, on an individual basis, receive the necessary training in order to successfully conduct their research within their respective disciplines, while becoming acquainted with the pertinent methods and theories of the other disciplines involved.

Introductory Courses

At the beginning of the first year, all incoming doctoral students are required to participate in introductory courses that take place consecutively at each of the IMPRS locations. The doctoral students are introduced to the relevant empirical methods and significant theories of the various disciplines. Each workshop lasts between two and four days and, thus, allows sufficient time for both the faculty and the student body to get to know all participants as well as other researchers at the Max Planck Institutes and universities.

In Frankfurt, the course addresses the history of the state and the emergence of modern punishment in Europe. Course modules cover the history of criminal law, criminal justice, modern punishment and the modern state in Europe from the late middle ages to modern times, including the development of state-based forms of institutionalized, formalized, punitive control and the establishment of a monopoly on power. Another focus is on theory, models, methods and results of research in the field of Criminal Justice History, including issues such as the ‘enforcement/implementation of norms’, ‘participation of the social community in criminal justice, punitive control and coercion’, the ‘negotiation/mediation of norms, conflicts and social/punitive control’ and the ‘complex relationships between norm and practice’, as well as such models as ‘utilization/ instrumentalization of criminal justice’ (Justiznutzung) and ‘infrajustice’.

In Freiburg, a major focus is on theories of crime and punishment. The course covers the development of theories concerning criminal sanctions and punishment, including sentencing and the relationship between models of man, theories of crime and punishment theory. The course conveys basic knowledge about the goals that can be pursued with criminal punishment as well as information on contemporary systems of criminal sanctions. The introduction into systems of criminal sanctions is presented in a comparative perspective and includes criminological findings about the actual effects of criminal punishment and sentencing. The course also questions retaliation and mediation within the framework of criminal law. It gives insights into the escalation potential of retaliation, the reintroduction of mediation and reconciliation as a result of rediscovering the victim and developing crime victim policies, restorative justice as an alternative to maintaining order and peace through retaliatory punishment, and prospects and limits of mediation and reconciliation in individualized and heterogeneous societies.

In Halle, a particular emphasis is put on methods of ethnographic research, as well as retaliation and mediation in tribal societies. It focuses on retaliation, mediation and punishment as conflictive and/or integrative socio-legal strategies of exclusion and inclusion highlighting processes of conflict management ranging from the exercise of violence to reconciliation between formally equal social, political or organizational formations on various institutional levels, from kinship structures via state organization to the international level. Another course module covers normative ordering and retaliatory practices in plural legal configurations, global justice, cultural defence, the transnationalization of legal standards and the idea of retaliation, and the anthropology of retaliation (from an evolutionary model of blood feud to the conceptualization of the social working of the idea of reciprocity in normative ordering and conflict settlement, including colonial and postcolonial settings).

Summer and Winter Schools

Twice a year, all doctoral students and faculty members convene during the so-called Winter and Summer Schools. This three- to five-day retreat is organized by the student body, usually on a rotating basis, i.e., students from one partnering MPI take the lead, with the help and guidance of the REMEP coordinators.

The Summer and Winter Schools are designed around a three-tier model:

1. Incoming doctoral students are required to present and defend their research proposals (15 minutes) and to answer questions and engage in discussions with the faculty and student body (30 minutes).
2. Second-year-students are expected to share their research results (30-minute presentation), which will then be discussed in a plenary session (30 minutes). The Summer and Winter Schools offer the students a platform to compare their research results on a cross-disciplinary basis with the results of their colleagues, while being made aware of the connections and discontinuities between social and legal developments. The relative quality of one’s own concepts, methods and theoretical background is also tested.
3. All students in their third/final year may act as chairpersons and are expected to deliver presentations in thematic workshops on topics relevant to REMEP. In the past, a panel format has proved to be quite successful for these workshops. The students are asked to conceptualize their thematic workshops, to suggest guest speakers and to invite faculty members as both speakers and commentators. In preparing a workshop, students may seek direction and support from the faculty and the coordinators. The aim of the workshops is to contribute to theory on the role of retaliation, mediation and punishment for peace, social order and human security. Ideally, scientific publications should result from these workshops, such as individual papers or edited volumes.

The Winter and Summer Schools sometimes also comprise a teaching component delivered by the faculty members and internationally renowned guest researchers. The format of this component may vary from meeting to meeting as necessary.

Soft Skills Seminars

During the academic year, the curriculum is complemented by soft skills seminars, e.g., on project management & trouble shooting, rhetoric and presentation skills, and academic writing. Each seminar is conducted by a professional soft skills trainer. The trainings can be organized before or after a Winter/Summer School, but also take place on location at one of the partner institutes.

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