Richard von Weizsäcker Visiting Fellowship

Since 1965 St Antony’s College and the University of Oxford have greatly benefited from the presence of Visiting Fellows from the Federal Republic of Germany. For six decades the fellowship has served as a veritable Who’s Who among German historians, with a stellar roster of high-profile and influential figures in many different areas and subjects. The Visiting Fellows have come from the disciplines of Modern History and the Social/ Political Sciences.

The fallout of Brexit underlines the urgency of strengthening bridges of mutual understanding and international relations in a time of disruptive – and potentially divisive – German-British relations. This unique fellowship was founded in a spirit of intercultural cooperation two decades after the Second World War, and the need for fortifying these vital points of German-British intellectual interaction is no less vital today than it was sixty years ago. The renaming of the programme as the Richard von Weizsaecker Visiting Fellowship ten years ago is perfectly in keeping with the former German President’s mission of German-British amity and good will.

The Visiting Fellowship achieves two equally important objectives:

  1. It enables the Visiting Fellow to carry out a project of in-depth research, uninterrupted by their usual teaching and administrative duties at their home university;
  2. The Visiting Fellow organizes an international conference in Oxford on a historical theme related to their research and of interest to the Oxford academic community, at which papers are given by representative invited academics from Germany and elsewhere.

The Richard von Weizsäcker Visiting Fellowship has become an important component in the German history and graduate studies programme in Oxford, lecturing, organizing seminars, delivering papers and giving guidance to graduate students in their field of interest. It also has helped the College and University create a unique network of contacts with senior academics at German universities.

Prior to 1990, the Fellowship was funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung, later by the British Leverhulme Trust and the Ministry of Education and Science in the Federal Republic of Germany. From 2010 until 2017, the Visiting Fellowship was funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung and the Volkswagen Stiftung, and since 2017 has been funded exclusively by the VolkswagenStiftung.

St Antony’s is keen to continue the Richard von Weizsäcker Visiting Fellowship. At the moment the College is seeking future funding so that the Richard von Weizsäcker Visiting Fellowship can be offered beyond 2025

The Richard von Weizsäcker Visiting Fellowship

The Visiting Fellowship has been the showcase for German historical scholarship in the UK since its first introduction in the 1960s. Richard von Weizsäcker was an Honorary Fellow of St Antony’s College from 1987 until his death in 2015. The Visiting Fellows are established scholars in the field of post-1800 history of the historical sciences, preferably with an interest in the transnational contents and context of German historical studies, and with an outstanding record of publication. The Visiting Fellow is expected to be resident at St Antony’s for the nine months of the Oxford academic year, to conduct research and to participate fully in the academic life of the European Studies Centre at St Antony’s College.

Other responsibilities include:

German Historical Perspectives was established in 1987 as an English-language forum for showcasing research by German historians and social scientists to readers in English-speaking countries. Each of the volumes is devoted to a particular theme that is discussed from different vantagepoints in separate essays and based on the conference held annually in Oxford which the Visiting Fellow convenes, in collaboration with the European Studies Centre at St Antony’s College. No less than 31 volumes have been published since 1987. From 2007 onwards, the New German Historical Perspectives series has been published by Berghahn Books, and we have published 14 volumes in the last 15 years. 

The Visiting Fellow is encouraged to integrate directly in the activities with her/ his English colleagues in Oxford, including through the strong relation Oxford’s History Faculty has with the German Historical Institute in London.

Upon the completion of their fellowship, the Visiting Fellow is expected to organize a joint DPhil conference featuring Oxford PhD students and their German counterparts at the fellow’s home university in Germany in a spirit of mutual exchange.

The Visiting Fellowship carries an expenses allowance and a stipend for travel and accommodation. Costs of a teaching replacement go to the Fellow’s home institution, and there is a travel and accommodation allowance.

Benefits of the Visiting Fellowship at St Antony’s include the use of College academic and social facilities; library privileges; College email account; an office in the European Studies Centre; lunch in College; twelve High Table dinners in College per term; funding for seminars/conference plus editing the English-language volume in the New German Historical Perspectives series and administrative support.