Deadline: 4 April 2014  

Open to: researchers from Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as some of the immediately neighboring regions of the Russian Confederation, China and Afghanistan.

Scholarships: funds may be provided for workshops, symposia and summer schools in Central Asia and the Caucasus

General Objectives

Through this funding initiative, the Volkswagen Foundation aims to foster scientific and scholarly interest in current developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus, on the other hand, to provide a sustainable contribution to the capacity development in these countries by intensifying co-operation between scientists and scholars in Germany. By means of thematically defined calls it is intended to involve researchers in Central Asia and the Caucasus more deeply in identifying relevant topics and formulating the research agendas. Furthermore, the calls want to promote intra regional cooperation through a closer integration of the projects funded. This is to be achieved through cooperative research projects based on symmetric partnerships between scientists and scholars from Germany and the target region combined with project-related training of young researchers at doctoral or postdoctoral level. The establishment of transboundary cooperation within Central Asia and the Caucasus is explicitly encouraged by; the involvement of neighboring states (and even additional countries if necessary) if the respective consortia is possible. 

Thematic Scope of the Call

This call addresses the social sciences and has been set up to facilitate political and social science research on present-day political, legal, economic, and social developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Attention should be devoted not only to the type and dynamics of institutional change, but also to how it is dealt with, especially with respect to persistence and variation in social practices. Priority will be given to proposals which are not restricted to a single and narrowly defined field of research, but pursue a multi- or interdisciplinary approach. Projects concerned with comparative perspectives are especially welcome, particularly those that look at a number of countries in the target region.

Relevant fields of research which were identified at the international preparatory workshop in Bishkek (17-20 October 2013) are:

• Spaces, symbolic representation, and perception of power

• International relations in times of globalization and regionalization

• Rule of law, awareness of right and wrong, governance and conflict resolution

• Land use and distribution

• International entanglement of markets and trade

• Work, employment and “survival”

• Mobility and migration (with their manifold – not only economic – repercussions)

• Demographic development, well-being, health and pension systems

• New social movements and civic participation

• Cultural flows, transformation of ethnic and religious identities

Due to the multiplicity of these (and possibly other) topics, the Foundation expects all proposals to elucidate the project’s particular relevance, quality,  as well as its feasibility. In addition, each proposal should clarify how the project results will be disseminated and, in particular, communicated to a wider public.


Pre-proposals can only be accepted for projects that aim to establish a substantial and long-term cooperation between researchers from Central Asian and/or Caucasian countries with Germany. All partners should be equally involved in the development and organization of the cooperation; as a guideline, the Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries’ (KFPE) Guide for Transboundary Research Partnerships should be referred to: 

Projects comprising of an intraregional cooperation of researchers from several countries of the target region or neighboring states with colleagues in Germany have priority over merely bilateral projects between researchers in Germany and only one country of the region. 

Research projects have to include a substantial amount of training of young scholars from Central Asia and the Caucasus. Accordingly, postgraduate students with a Master’s degree should be enabled to obtain a PhD, while junior PhD holders should be enabled to carry out postdoctoral research. To this end, it would be beneficial if they were already integrated into a research infrastructure at a university or a research institute in the target region. For German doctoral students or postdoctoral fellows this kind of integration is a prerequisite. Imparting and applying key methods of both qualitative and quantitative social research should be a major component of all projects. Likewise, it is expected that access to and use of existing infrastructure, technology and data is taken into account when planning the research. Furthermore, quality control measures are to be incorporated into the research design as well as its intended output.

Funding Opportunities

Projects may be supported by allocating funds for personnel expenditure, recurring non-personnel costs (like travel, consumables) and non-recurrent expenses (e.g. equipment) of up to 130,000 EUR per year for bilateral and up to 170,000 EUR per year for intraregional projects, respectively. Funds should be distributed evenly amongst the partners. On the German side, a maximum of two PhD students or one postdoctoral position may be financed. Projects can be funded for a period of up to three years; an extension of up to two years is possible if this additional time is necessary to allow the young researchers to complete their doctoral theses and on the condition that the success of the first project phase has been demonstrated. 

Funds should primarily be used for the academic qualification of junior scholars by financing their salaries/scholarships and visits to the cooperation partners. Salary supplements in the countries of the target region should be adapted to the local conditions, while salaries in Germany and accommodation expenses for mutual research stays have to conform to the German regulations for the public service.  Moreover, funds may be provided for workshops, symposia and summer schools in Central Asia and the Caucasus promoting scientific exchange or the acquisition of soft skills (like, e.g., language courses, scientific writing, and project management). The number of participants should not exceed 50-60. Active participation of young researchers is expected. Furthermore, funds may be requested for travelling and research stays, field research and equipment if this is required to carry out the research work. Access to and acquisition of data and literature may also be supported. Institutional overheads are excluded from funding. A specified financial contribution from the partner institutions in the target region is expected. In case of approval funds will be remitted to and administered by the German part-ner’s institution.

After the positive evaluation of the pre-proposals, travel funds of up to 10,000 EUR may be provided for a preparatory meeting of the cooperation partners in order to facilitate the joint development of full proposals. Particulars such as the date, venue, participants and costs of such meetings have to be specified already in the pre-proposal. 

Application Procedure

Review of project proposals is carried out in a two-step procedure. In the first step, only pre-proposals can be submitted. It is only after a positive evaluation of the respective pre-proposals that, in a second step, full proposals are invited.

Pre-proposals and applications should be elaborated jointly by the cooperation partners and submitted in English by the German applicant in charge via the electronic application system. Details of the formal requirements are compiled in the checklist below. Pre-proposals have to be submitted by April 4, 2014. All proposals received will be subject to an interdisciplinary and international peer review process. Results of the review will be communicated in the summer of 2014. Successful applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal; the deadline for the submission of full proposals is scheduled for the autumn of 2014. After another peer review, decisions on the full proposals are likely to be made in spring 2015.


Forms containing information on the applicants and their institutions (recipient of the grant) as well as on the project (title, duration and total amount requested) and its budget are to be completed in the electronic application system. In addition, the following documents need to be provided as pdf-attachments:  

• Cover letter, cover sheet (printed and signed)

• Title, summary in English and German (max. 0.5 pages each)

•Project description (max. 6 pages): preliminary work, rationale and objectives, methodological approach, work and time schedule

• Explanation of the cooperation, division of tasks (max. 1 page)

• Expected output, relevance (max. 1 page)

• Budget justification (for all positions and institutions)

• Short CVs, lists of most important publications (max. 5 per partner)

• Letters of support from the partner institutions in the region

The project description must not exceed 6 pages (or 20,500 characters); the appendices should not add up to more than 10 pages altogether.

Notes for Applicants

The Foundation can award grants to academic institutions only. It is unable to process applications that have been submitted, in identical or similar form, to other funding agencies or are dealing with technical cooperation/development aid.  Finally, the Foundation does not pay for obligations which have been entered into prior to the receipt of a grant letter. 


The International Team Dr. Wolfgang Levermann, Phone: +49 (0) 511-8381-212 


VolkswagenStiftung Kastanienallee 

35 30519 Hannover


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