Speaker team

Prof. Dr. Thomas Alkemeyer

Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg Institute for Sports Science Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118
26129 Oldenburg

+49 441/798-4622

Prof. Dr. Martin Butler

Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg Institute of English and American Studies Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118
26129 Oldenburg

 +49 441/798-2320


Marta Mazur

Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg
Faculty III
PhD programme "Gestalten der Zukunft"
Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118
26129 Oldenburg

Project funding

running time

October 2019 to September 2024

PhD programme Gestalten der Zukunft (Shaping the future)

Gestalten der Zukunft (Shaping the future)

Transformation of the present through scenarios of digitalisation

Digital change is fuelling utopias and dystopias. For some, it represents a crucial evolutionary step on the way to human emancipation from their natural fetters. For others, it undermines entire cultures, destroys industries, the democratic public sphere and the private sphere, and turns millions of people into media addicts. In various social and cultural areas – literature, academics, politics, popular culture, etc. –, such euphoric and sceptical expectations of the future are condensed into meaningfully operating figures (“Gestalten”) of a digital future that cause action already in the here and now: They initiate educational programmes to teach digital competence, agendas of digital policy, trade union policies for the protection of employees, and much more.


The PhD programme aims to critically observe and accompany the many-voiced network of ideas and expectations, of hopes and fears, including the corresponding (political) programmes and measures, which revolves around the concept, techniques, and practices of digitalisation. To this end, it reflects, informed by the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences, on society’s approach to digitalisation and, in an interdisciplinary dialogue, pursues the questions, 1. how, under what conditions, and in which social areas (politics, education, economy, health care, etc.) which blueprints of a digital future will emerge, 2. how these drafts take shape, gain acceptance, or fade away unheard in different genres and media (in party programmes, academic expertise, futurology, science fiction, etc.), 3. what influence do drafts of a digital future have on the present, e.g. in processes of political decision-making, in educational initiatives, or in measures for the solution, channelling, and defence of problems and crises that have been diagnosed and prognostically anticipated in the present

By thus illuminating the transformative power of imagined futures, the PhD programme contributes to a better understanding of the contemporary social and political actions of individuals, collectives, and institutions. With its reflexive approach, it also promotes critical digital literacy, a sensitivity to the forces determining digital change and its current effects, and thus expands the possibilities for the reflective participation and control of various social actors in shaping a digital future.

The programme brings together the expertise of researchers whose successful cooperation has already been tested in a series of interdisciplinary collaborative projects that are compatible in terms of content and methodology, and combines a cultural studies focus represented at the University of Oldenburg with a media industry perspective represented by the Institute for Media Management and Journalism at Jade University. As a cooperation partner, the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst (HWK) – an Institute for Advanced Study with nationwide recognition – offers the programme the opportunity of holding events and networking with thematically relevant researchers from Germany and abroad. The programme’s qualification model is implemented in cooperation with the Graduate School for the Social Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Oldenburg (3GO). It combines specialist supervision with the acquisition of interdisciplinary key qualifications and integrates formats of knowledge transfer and science communication in close cooperation with Jade University for Applied Sciences and the BMBF project “Innovative Hochschule Jade-Oldenburg”. It guarantees excellent supervision of the junior researchers and prepares them for different career paths within and outside the university.

null      null         null

(Changed: 20 Apr 2022)