IRS Spring Academy: Investigating Space(s)

In recent decades the interdisciplinary field between spatial and social sciences has undergone an extraordinarily dynamic development with a high potential for innovation. On the one hand, many social-scientific disciplines performed a “spatial turn” and became more interested in integrating spatial concepts and terminology. On the other hand, disciplines like human geography or spatial planning, understand space less as an exclusive object of analysis and instead emphasis a “spatial perspective” as a shared ontological ground. This has opened up a broad “trading zone” within which novel conceptualizations of space and spatiality are negotiated in an interdisciplinary field.

Against this background, the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) together with different academic partners launches a series of annual Spring Academies titled “Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches”. This series of events gives early stages researchers the opportunity to discuss corrent theoretical and methodological trends in spatial research and to present his or her own research to an international audience.


During the past decades, the idea of transdisciplinarity has gained increasing momentum. Transdisciplinary research is regarded as a collaborative form of knowledge generation and knowledge application for solving societal challenges that integrates perspectives and actors from academia, civil society, government and administration as well as from the economic realms. more infos


Photo: ESB Professional/

Since the last decade, the term “financialisation” has become increasingly popular in academic research as well as in public policy debates. By highlighting the role of financial actors and logics in shaping urban development, it depicts how housing, land, and inhabitants are treated as assets. Moreover, it drives attention to emerging social inequalities, urban segregation, and sustainability concerns. more infos


Photo: William/; virus: winyu/
Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches: Part 5 – Spaces of Infection

Unknown infections and mortal diseases have been threats to humankind ever since. However, it seems that with the decrease of biodiversity, hypermobility of human beings and increasing population density, the outbreak and the spreading of infections have turned into a severe global problem. COVID-19 is only the most recent case that reminds us that quickly spreading infections are and have ever been a major source for crises. more infos

14. June 2022 | News
Looking Back on the 2022 IRS Spring Academy "Spaces of Infection"

For the first time since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, the IRS Spring Academy took place again in Erkner and Berlin at the end of May 2022. The event series is aimed at international doctoral and post-doctoral researchers in the interdisciplinary field of spatial research. They get the opportunity to work intensively together on a topic, to exchange ideas across disciplines and to network. With its special mix of formats, the Spring Academy addresses the needs of researchers in the early stages of their careers. The theme of the Spring Academy 2022 was "Spaces of Infection". The Robert Koch Institute was the local partner. more info


Graphic: Felix Pergande/
Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches: Spaces of Crisis

There is little doubt. We live in times of crisis. Core functions of democratic societies, like the financial system, demo-cratic institutions, the free press or human-nature relationships are under severe pressure. Global problems, like in-creasing social inequality and mass migration tend to escalate while those political institutions that have been built up to deal with international emergencies, like the UN and WTO, experience a loss of legitimacy and funding. As a conse-quence, more and more political and economic decisions are made under conditions of high uncertainty and great pres-sure. In other words, they are made in crisis. more infos


Photo: Chlorophylle/adobe stock photo
Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches: Topologies

Places, or topoi, can be described in terms of their internal temporality, historical roots, symbolic representations or experiential qualities. Webs of interrelated places, or topologies, pose questions of dis-/similarities, accessibility and connectivity. The objective of this year’s IRS Spring Academy is to explore the most recent revival of places, to discuss new conceptualizations of place and to develop further research methods for empirical studies of both, topoi and topologies. more infos


Photo: Jozsef Bagota/
Photo: Jozsef Bagota/
Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches: Virtuality and Socio-Materiality

The IRS Spring Academy 2018 focuses on the manifold impacts of digitalization and on related social scientific ways of conceiving space. Digitalization circumscribes a technological revolution, encompassing all kinds of rapidly developing information and communication technologies, but in particular the rise of the Internet. If initially the discourse on digital geographies was characterized by the spatially unequal access to the Internet (“digital divide”) and on infrastructural topics and impacts on regional development, more recently the focus of the debate has shifted towards the ubiquity of online worlds. The IRS Spring Academy gives early stages researchers the opportunity to discuss corrent theoretical and methodological trends in spatial research and to present his or her own research to an international audience. more infos