WIN-Kolleg Young Researchers from Heidelberg to Research Polycrises

Press Release No. 19/2024
20 February 2024

Gordon Friedrichs and Natalie Rauscher accepted into the WIN-Kolleg of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

With their interdisciplinary research project on interconnected, global crises, Dr Gordon Friedrichs and Dr Natalie Rauscher have been accepted into the WIN-Kolleg of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The two political scientists will be analysing so-called polycrises, such as the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine, paying particular attention to crisis management and crisis communication. Dr Friedrichs works as a senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, while Dr Rauscher is a research assistant at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) of Heidelberg University. The project will receive over 300,000 euros in funding over a period of three years and is set to launch on 1 April 2024.


In recent years, the world has gone through various situations that can be viewed as a complex system of parallel, overlapping and interconnected crises. However, as these two researchers emphasise, there has yet to be any theory-driven discussion on this set of issues. As part of their project “In the Age of the Polycrisis: How complex crises emerge and how we can confront them”, Dr Friedrichs and Dr Rauscher will examine the origins, development and consequences of such crises using two current examples. 

Focusing on the polycrisis of global climate change, their research centres around the natural disasters of this phenomenon as well as its social, societal and political impact. With regard to the polycrisis of the war in Ukraine, the researchers are exploring the economic, food and energy crises resulting from the conflict. Using theories from the fields of international relations and American studies, the research team will analyse how polycrises can be conceptualised. Their research combines quantitative and qualitative analyses intended to provide insights into crisis management and crisis communication in the United States and Europe. With this, Dr Friedrichs and Dr Rauscher hope to find out how these global crises are perceived by society, and how their complexity can be addressed politically.

Gordon Friedrichs studied political science and South Asian studies in Frankfurt / Main, at Arizona State University (USA) and in Heidelberg. He received his doctorate from Heidelberg University in 2019. As a postdoc, he conducted research at several institutions, including the University of Notre Dame (USA), the Geneva Graduate Institute (Switzerland), and the universities of Heidelberg and Freiburg. His work currently focuses on the effects of polarisation and populism on the foreign policy of democracies as well as the resilience and transformation of global orders in times of crisis.

Natalie Rauscher studied English language and literature as well as political science in both Heidelberg and Maryland (USA). She received her doctorate from the Heidelberg Center for American Studies at Heidelberg University. Now, as a postdoc at the HCA, Dr Rauscher conducts research on new actors and approaches in US philanthropy in the 21st century.

The Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities is also the state academy of Baden-Württemberg. With the support of the state government, the academy has developed the only initiative in Germany to offer statewide funding opportunities to outstanding young researchers – the WIN-Kolleg. The academy has been funding interdisciplinary projects through this initiative since 2002, opening up special scope for research and facilitating exchange between academy members. In doing so, it helps reinforce Baden-Württemberg as an academic location through innovative projects. Membership of the WIN-Kolleg is limited to the duration of a researcher’s active participation in one of the ongoing research focuses.