Global Issues - Integrating Different Perspectives on Cultural Heritage and Change


Application deadline

2020/05/13 00:00

Please note new deadline: May 13, 2020

The participating foundations are part of an overarching framework entitled ‘Global Issues – Integrating Different Perspectives’, which aims to enable international research collaboration and to generate insights on understudied issues of urgent global relevance. This funding framework is the overarching umbrella for various calls on different thematic areas, all of which reflect challenges that have been acknowledged by the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda as requiring specific attention.

Global Issues aims to support and strengthen innovative research in collaboration between researchers based in different parts of the world who usually do not join forces. By offering funding for international collaboration, the foundations intend to unite different research perspectives and approaches, and to allow for the development of a global perspective on the issues under consideration, which may challenge traditional or regionally limited perspectives and open new ways of thinking. The foundations strongly encourage research that moves beyond traditional questions and approaches and significantly advances the current state of the art.

Thematic Call: Integrating Different Perspectives on Cultural Heritage and Change

While much of the discourse surrounding the development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is strongly focused on economic, ecological, and social aspects of development, the cultural dimension has been less emphasised. Yet, culture also plays an important role in fostering sustainable development and should be included in strategies and approaches for reaching a sustainable future. This insight is now motivating a call for funding focusing on cultural heritage and change.

Cultural heritage ranging from the tangible to the intangible, from narratives and practices to monuments, landscapes and objects, is subject to a variety of processes of change and transformation. War, terrorism, environmental change, tourism, and digitalization – these are only a few examples of a wide variety of processes affecting and potentially threatening the world’s cultural heritage and impacting upon people’s lives, including aspects of self-conception, identity, origin, and socialization.

Based on various exchanges with the research community from a broad set of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences, the foundations encourage multilateral research teams from all relevant fields of study to investigate the processes and research questions of cultural heritage –heritage as an agent for and an object of change.  While the disciplinary focus within the research groups should be on humanities and social sciences, input from other disciplines is welcome wherever appropriate.  The research should address processes performed by a certain sense of urgency resulting from global developments in the 21st century and adopt either a regional or comparative perspective. Furthermore, meta-studies that analyse earlier scientific investigations might be included in order to contribute to cumulative knowledge within this field.

Applications may address one or more of the following areas of special interest:

  • Theoretical development of heritage including conceptual analyses of what is regarded as ‘cultural heritage’ and ‘change’ and by whom.
  • Contributions of cultural heritage to an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable future. Conflicts of interest between the preservation of heritage on the one hand and contemporary needs of the respective population on the other hand.
  • Consequences of the use of ICTs in relation to cultural heritage. Today advanced technology enters most domains of the use of cultural heritage through digital communication, media infrastructures and artificial intelligence.
  • Threats to heritage such as war, terrorism, or climate change. Natural and man-made hazards, particularly worsened by the effects of climate change events, are persistently putting heritage, including landscape, under pressure, with an increasing frequency over time. In addition, such disasters and catastrophes impose new and continuously changing challenges and urgently needs innovative safeguarding approaches.


Global challenges and a sustainable future for all require global approaches. Therefore, all thematic calls within the Global Issues-framework offer support for international multilateral research teams. They also encourage attempts to establish symmetric partnerships.

Each research team may consist of three to five researchers, involving at least one researcher based in Sweden, Germany or Italy and two researchers based in non-European Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs)[1] (for a four- or five-person consortium: one or two researchers based in High Income Countries (HICs), two or three based in LMICs). Please note that purely European partnerships are excluded from this call.

Furthermore, in order to encourage creative international research constellations and building networks across the globe, the programme also seeks to strengthen academic capacity development, i.e. the qualification of junior researchers.[2] This call targets applicants at all career levels post-Ph.D. who are employed by a university or research institution. At the same time this call encourages applicants to also include doctoral students in the research activities, even if these costs will have to be financed by other sources.


The project duration should be up to four years with a maximum gross budget of 1.5 million Euro per project. The budget may include salaries as well as expenses, such as travel costs, consumables, acquisition of data, etc. Personnel costs for the researchers involved will be covered according to local standards. Project participants may include some budget for longer stays at their partner institutions. With respect to the funds granted, the foundations expect a relatively even distribution amongst the different partners.

In addition, funds to finance part time administrative support may be included in the budget to a reasonable extent. Any additional indirect costs that might occur may be included in the proposal and depend on approval.

Project teams can apply for funds to cover science communication measures (beyond academic output such as knowledge dissemination and public engagement activities). Furthermore, projects are also encouraged to include costs related to outreach initiatives and the involvement of various relevant stakeholders outside academia.

Each proposal has one main applicant responsible for the entire project and funds granted to successful projects will only be paid to one grant administrator (based at a research institution in Germany, Italy or Sweden), who will be responsible for financial reporting of the grant in total.

Pre-proposals may also budget for a preparatory meeting of all partners to develop the full proposal (up to 10,000 EUR). These funds will be granted in case the pre-proposal was positively reviewed.

Review process

The application process is organized in two phases. This is a call for pre-proposals to be submitted by 25 March 2020 (midday, CET). Applications must be submitted in English. They will be reviewed and assessed by an international expert panel which will shortlist groups who will be invited to submit a full proposal. The international experts will review the applications using criteria which include scientific quality, potential, and originality of the project as well as the feasibility of the research design, theory and methods. In addition, the make-up of the research group and the envisaged equality of partners will be taken into consideration. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to present their project at a review panel meeting.

The foundations do not provide any feedback or comments on submitted proposals.


  • Deadline for pre-proposals: 25 March 2020
  • Invitation to submit full proposals: end of June 2020
  • Deadline for submitting full proposals: 25 November 2020
  • Interviews with short-listed research teams: 9-10 February 2021
  • Decisions: Spring 2021

Application Checklist

Applications must be submitted using the Volkswagen Foundation’s electronic application system. Please, familiarise yourself with the system prior to the deadline. With your submission, you need to provide the following information: Full name and office address of the applicantintended grant administratorand brief information on the project (brief informative title, duration, and total budget). In the application system, you are also required to submit a total budget in Euro (gross amount; project-related costs), separately for each team member. It is sufficient to use the respective form on the application system at this stage and fill in the categories mentioned there (salaries (based on local standards), travel costs, science and communication measures, consumables, technical equipment/acquisition of data, and costs for outreach activities).

In addition, the following documents need to be provided as “enclosures” (pdf-files):

  • Signature Sheet (signed by all team members, scanned or electronic signatures are accepted)
  • Summary of the project (maximum of 2,500 characters, incl. spaces)
  • Description of proposed research project (17,000 characters, incl. spaces/max. 5 pages), including the following information:
    • aim of the project and research questions
    • theoretical framework
    • methodological approach
    • state of the art/significance for the field
    • participants and their tasks within the project
    • organisation of the team and work plan
    • list of referenced literature
  • Short CV’s of all team members (no more than 2 pages each)
  • In addition to the general budget, pre-proposals may also include extra costs for an optional preparatory meeting of all partners to develop the full proposal (up to 10,000 EUR). These funds will be granted in case the pre-proposal was positively reviewed.

[1] According to the World Bank classification:

[2] Junior scholars are here defined as being within 5 years from Ph.D.