What is the Hausdorff School?

Stefan Hartmann, Scientific Associate at HCM (PR and Events) 

The time between the PhD and the first professorship has often been neglected so far. Especially during this postdoc time, important decisions for future career and personal life are made. Young scientists not only develop their first own research programs that include the responsibility for employees, but they also have to give their first lectures and seminars – often without any preparation, much less any systematic training. Without a mentor and without any education in basic teaching skills these requirements resemble a jump in at the deep end. The Hausdorff School for Advanced Studies in Mathematics in Bonn wants to address this problem and bridge the gap between attaining a PhD and beginning a career in academia or beyond the university.

The offer of the Hausdorff School is aimed at postdocs from all over the world and is divided into different components: an academic course program in the form of summer and winter schools, seminars on professional skills as well as a training concept for academic education, including a mentoring program. The course program consists of up to ten one-week schools per year. They cover a vast variety of topics and reflect mathematics in its entire breadth including its applications, and with a focus on cutting edge research. For each school, we recruit several experts as lecturers that are partly from Bonn but for the most part from other universities. The events are open to postdocs from all over the world, and the Hausdorff Center pays accommodation and travel expenses for up to 25 external participants. The school not only offers great professional education but also provides a good opportunity to build a network and communicate with like-minded young mathematicians.

Besides the academic courses, the Hausdorff School offers extensive training in professional core competencies such as media, communication and application training and information events about external funding. At these events, experts give advice on writing application letters based on the work of commissions.

Moreover, the Hausdorff School has developed an ambitious training concept for academic teaching within the Postdoc Mentoring Program. The aim is clear: Teaching students can (and should) be learned. In this program, a postdoc and a faculty member plan the lectures together for one semester. The postdoc teaches at least half of the lectures himself and the professor provides feedback. A certificate acknowledges the successful participation in the mentoring program.

There is an urgent need for recruiting and promoting new mathematicians from all over the world. Many postdocs leave Germany to go to the United States but only few deliberately travel to Germany. It is needless to say that such a vast program cannot be offered at every department of mathematics in Germany. Therefore, the Hausdorff Center has the goal of offering a centralized service with the Hausdorff School for the entire mathematical community. Postdocs from all over the world can take advantage of our program, which makes Germany more attractive for young mathematicians. In this way, the Hausdorff School aims to have a lasting effect on the improvement of mathematical research and teaching.

First published in German in Mitteilungen der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung, Band 26, Heft 4, Seiten 170–173, ISSN (Online) 0942-5977, ISSN (Print) 0947-4471,
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/dmvm-2018-0052.

Translation by Carolin Kaffiné and Jessica Theisen.