The APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellowship


Mission Statement

APRA Foundation Berlin for Multi-Diciplinarity
Outsiders inside

Each one of us is completely unique, different from everyone else; and each one of us wants to be accepted for who we are. Yet we enter into groups – families, circles of friends, associations of colleagues – in which some parts of ourselves are valued and others are ridiculed or disparaged. We reveal to others in the group those parts that they approve, and conceal the parts they disapprove. So we each feel like outsiders to some degree in every group we are in; and each person in the group carries that same burden of difference alone, not realizing that everyone else in the group does, too. The quality and dimensions of our difference change with the particular groups we are in, ensuring that we always violate the defined boundaries of the group and feel like outsiders in some respect, in virtually any such group.

Sometimes we try to conceal our difference by deflecting attention onto another, publicly designated “outsider” who personifies it. But this merely reinforces our hypocritical conformity to norms we know are wrong, represses our individuality, and sacrifices the acceptance of it we seek.

Yet being “outsiders” in this way defines, sharpens and strengthens the self, building important skills of survival that we often also conceal: skills of detachment, rationality, critical thinking, humor, humility, self-reflection, self-sufficiency, creative self-expression, tact, sensitivity, flexibility, self-control, communication and negotiation among them. The smaller the world becomes and the more diverse our social groups become, the more we need these skills in order to adjust to globalization and cross-cultural exchange. How can we best identify, study, develop and teach these multi-disciplinary skills to others? How can we share them with one another to our collective benefit, without risking the painful collective rejections that made us conceal them in the first place? How can we adapt them to the new and challenging cultural contexts that increasingly confront us, and utilize them them on others’ behalf?

Our first task must be a scholarly one: to clarify what these skills are and analyze the ways in which they function within the self as strategies of survival and flourishing in a global environment. To do this much, the APRA Foundation Berlin seeks to fund an annual Multi-Disciplinary Fellow who has done enough of the hard work of self-clarification and self-analysis in order to protect, cultivate and successfully express these skills in divergent scholarly and/or artistic contexts; and to perceive on a personal level the broader social benefits of making them available to the general public in scholarly and/or artistic form.


1. The APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellowship has the purpose of promoting research on the conception, constitution and structure of the self, with the educational goals of (i) increasing knowledge and public awareness of individual and societal strategies for surviving and flourishing in a global environment; and (ii) discovering, identifying and promoting the cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural flexibility through which these strategies are expressed.

2. The research topic of the conception, constitution and structure of the self includes but is not limited to

2.1. the relation among intuition, emotion, and reason in the self;

2.2. the relationship among logic, rationality and scientific method;

2.3. intrapersonal consistency in action through time;

2.4. the relation between individual and societal conceptions of the person;

2.5. the tensions and conflicts between individual and societal needs, obligations and expectations;

2.6. individual and societal memory and moral responsibility;

2.7. the interpersonal and institutional dynamics of xenophobia;

2.8. difference, anomaly and originality in the natural and social sciences;

2.9. the psychology of bodily, social and geographical boundary-violation;

2.10. the function of social transgression in defining individuals and enhancing social cohesion;

2.11. methods and procedures of self-investigation in Vedic and Western psychology;

2.12. comparative conceptions of the self in Vedic and Western philosophy;

2.13. constructions of the self through personal narrative and/or social mythology;

2.14. the interpersonal (familial, communal, social, political) dynamics of self-respect, self-worth, self-confidence, and/or self-regard;

2.15. the construction of and preconditions for personal identity.

APRA Foundation Berlin for Multi-Diciplinarity 3. Individual and societal strategies for surviving and flourishing in a global environment include but are not limited to self-mastery; mastery of local conventions, practices and standards in diverse communities; overachievement; passing and self-concealment; voluntary self-disclosure; public self-identification; social self-stereotyping; psychological self-analysis; cultural self-creation; artistic self-expression; ethical self-sacrifice; selfless service; political self-assertion; social self-abnegation; tactical self-camouflage; scapegoating; self-bifurcation or compartmentalization; spiritual self-transcendence; conformist or nonconformist self-presentation; and cross-community mediation, translation, negotiation, organization, leadership and/or conflict-resolution.

4.Cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural flexibility means successful cross-cultural travel, transmission, navigation and/or collaboration. Each one of us is required to cross cultures and/or disciplines, when we interact with others outside our own areas of expertise. The resulting experience develops dynamic cognitive and practical skills, as well as capacities of breadth, flexibility and insight, that cannot be acquired any other way. Hence each one of us needs some such strategies at various points in our lives. For example, these strategies are useful and important for Germany, in which the very same forces of globalization that have made possible its reunification simultaneously threaten and infiltrate the geographical and cultural boundaries by which it attempts to define itself as a nation. Increased awareness of these strategies, and their historical antecedents, thus has practical application to Germany’s ability to successfully address issues of immigration, xenophobia, social and organizational flexibility, and economic efficiency. But the urgency of educating the general public about these issues is to be felt as well in the United States, India, China and the rest of Europe.


Fellowship Application Guidelines

5. Conducting research on the conception, constitution and structure of the self means formulating and carrying out a research project that results in a book, article, essay, artwork, musical composition, poem, novel, exhibition, symposium, performance, film, television program, and/or other scholarly and/or creative final product, intended to educate the general public about 3 and 4 above.

6. The APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellowship is a single, annual competitive research grant designed for intellectuals who (i) are proven high achievers in at least two seemingly disparate fields of scholarship and/or the arts simultaneously; and (ii) wish to use the APRA Foundation Berlin’s resources to research the conception, constitution and/or structure of the self in either or both of them.

6.1. Single means that only one APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellowship is granted each year.

6.2. Competitive means that the Fellowship is awarded annually to a specific individual based on criteria of exceptional scholarly and creative excellence and achievement in the seemingly disparate fields in question.

6.3. Research Grant means that this Fellowship carries all of the rights and responsibilities of a traditional academic research grant that promotes research in a particular field. Its rights include conducting professional APRA Foundation Berlin for Multi-Diciplinarity research on the conception, constitution and/or structure of the self, with the aid of the resources placed at the Fellow’s disposal by APRA. Its responsibilities include meeting measurable professional standards of quality, competence and productivity in the final work produced.

6.4. Intellectuals means that

6.4.1. APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellows are not restricted to those who hold advanced academic degrees, provided that their achievements meet the highest standards of excellence and outstanding contribution in their chosen fields;

6.4.2. APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellows are required to show demonstrated proficiency in written or oral discursive (including both narrative and analytical) prose, even if neither of their seemingly disparate fields of scholarship and/or the arts require it. An example would be a mathematical logician and performance artist whose first-mentioned field involves the manipulation of algebraic symbols while the second involves the manipulation of sound, materials, and physical movement. Such an individual would still have to meet the requirement of demonstrated proficiency in written or oral discursive prose; for example, a lecture on his or her work process, an editorial on a topic of importance to him or her, an autobiographical or fictional narrative, or a public dialogue on some more abstract topic. Demonstrated proficiency means that the lecture, editorial, narrative or dialogue has been disseminated in the public sphere, either in print or performance.

6.5. Seemingly disparate fields of scholarship and/or the arts means a simultaneous combination of at least two specialized fields, of scholarly research and/or of artistic production, that does not fit comfortably into existing academic fields, programs, or interdisciplinary studies departments in today’s universities and colleges. Two fields are seemingly disparate if there is no overlap between them; i.e., if most specialists in one either know nothing about the other, or view it with indifference, incomprehension, or active hostility. Examples would include analytic philosophy and contemporary art, medicine and poetry, law and contemporary music composition, or neurobiology and avant-garde theatre. Excluded from seemingly disparate fields are:

6.5.1. a single area of research and/or creative work that falls into two different traditional fields, as does comparative literature into English and creative writing;

6.5.2. two separate areas of research and/or creative work, both of which involve the same type of labor, as do mathematics and statistical research or poetry and philosophy;

6.5.3. research and/or creative work in one field that is viewed as mutually complementary with that in the other by one’s colleagues in both – as would be true of engineering and architectural design, or composition and music criticism;

6.5.4. research and/or creative work in one field combined with performance of other artists’ work in another, for example theoretical physics research plus classical violin performance or documentary film-making plus acting.

6.5.5. research and/or creative work in one field superceded by research and/or creative work in another, for example early-career groundbreaking work in chemistry followed by mature groundbreaking work in art.

The APRA Foundation Berlin Multi-Disciplinary Fellowship seeks to identify, honor, support and nurture the unusual combination of boundary-crossing resourcefulness, creative independence and personal mettle that simultaneous but non-overlapping fields of specialization force successful practitioners to develop.

7. A successfully completed APRA Foundation Berlin Multidisciplinary Fellowship research project APRA Foundation Berlin for Multi-Diciplinarity educates and familiarizes the general public with some of the ways in which cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural boundary-crossing enhances the development of tactics, skills, resources and knowledge essential to all of us for adapting to a rapidly evolving global culture.

8. Applications for the APRA Foundation Berlin Multidisciplinary Fellowship should include (i) a 500-word description of the project and projected timetable for the various stages of its completion; (ii) two supporting publications, and/or supporting media documentation on a single CD or PAL-formatted DVD where appropriate; (iii) a current Curriculum Vitae; (iv) the names and contact information for four recommenders, two in each of the applicant’s fields of specialization in scholarship and/or the arts respectively. These materials cannot be returned. They should be sent in hard copy, via Fed Ex internationally, or registered mail within Germany, to the following address:

APRA Foundation Berlin
Reinickendorfer Straße 117
D-13347 Berlin

The deadline for applications is 1 October and the Fellowship award is announced no later than 31 March of the following calendar year.