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International Max Planck Research School

on Adapting Behavior in a Fundamentally Uncertain World



The Curriculum of the IMPRS-Uncertainty has three pillars: summer school, local training and workshops. Additionally scholars are encouraged to spend a term at a cooperating international institution: either the Center for Rationality, Jerusalem or the Indiana University at Bloomington.

A detailed curriculum and list of course requirements is found here.

Summer School

Upfront training of new members comes at two levels. General training of all participants is entrusted to the summer school held each year in August in Jena. The main purpose of the summer school is not to deepen disciplinary training. This is mostly done in specialised courses at the respective department. Rather, these events are meant to give participants the necessary grasp of the neighbouring field(s) with which they are expected to collaborate during their dissertation project. Psychologists and lawyers will thus get a crash course in economic modelling. Lawyers and economists will receive a basic training in the cognitive theory, the assessment of psychological experiments, along with the statistical tools needed for doing so. And economists and psychologists will be imbued with the case method which is at the core of legal work.

At the summer school, each week is planned as follows:

Monday - Friday Saturday

Each summer school will last four weeks. During each week three crash courses will be completed, which makes a total of 12 courses to choose from. Students are required to participate in the summer school in their first and second year and to cover 14 courses altogether (e. g. 6 courses + group assignment in the first summer and 8 in the second summer). If they wish, they may join the summer school also in their last year.

The themes of the 2 x 12 crash courses are

Teaching will be conducted by faculty and by invited guests.

Local Training

The second, more specific level of upfront and continuous training is at the respective host institution. If appropriate, this may imply a deepening of disciplinary competencies. It also encompasses an interdisciplinary training that focuses more specifically on the research topic of the faculty or institute of which they are becoming a member.

In Jena, if the Research School is granted, we plan to join most of the so far separate graduate courses of

So far, this has been done only by organizing joint daily research seminars. Such day-long workshops will then be offered every month and be supplemented by jointly organized crash courses.

At the Department of Social Psychology in Jena graduate teaching has already been established in the context of the international graduate college “Conflict and cooperation between social groups”. There is a weekly research methods class and there are 4 short workshops per semester two of which are taught by guests and two by members of the department of psychology. Both are open for all PhD students in Jena.

The MPI Berlin will conduct a two-semester course on heuristic decision making and risky behavior (which is also open to students of the Humboldt University). The course will deal with versions of uncertainty in everyday, legal, and economic interactions; probability theory as a tool for taming uncertainty, and its limits; the science of heuristics as a robust tool; mathematical analysis of the match between heuristics and environmental structures; training of legal experts in constructing proper mental representations for understanding uncertain evidence; the illusion of certainty and its economic and legal costs.

In Bonn there are several weekly seminars, aiming at forging a joint agenda, at discussing individual projects, and at extending methodological, theoretical and topical competence. Specifically, there is currently a seminar on behaviourally informed institutional design, a seminar on the behaviour of corporate actors, courses on game theory and on statistics, and the general seminar of the institute, also covering the research agenda of the second unit, specializing in economics modelling and econometrics.


Workshops are the third pillar of cooperation in the school. There are two of them per year: the Thesis Workshop and the Topics Workshop. In organizing the workshops, the participating institutions will take turns.

Thesis Workshops

Each IMPRS Uncertainty student needs to present a recent project out of her PhD project. Our faculty eagerly provides feedback to all participants during this workshop. Hence, each presentation should give a brief introduction into the broader thesis project before the latest paper is presented. The PhD students should explain where they see difficulties for their work and where they need further input.

Each presentation should not be longer than 20 minutes, and may well be shorter. This will ensure sufficient time for feedback (approx. 20 minutes). The shorter the presentations are the more time the other participants have to provide feedback.

See the previous workshops for more information:

Topics Workshops

In each year the IMPRS Uncertainty organizes a workshop at one of its partner institutions. The idea is to get to know the different research fields and institutions of the IMPRS Uncertainty and to take advantage of the expertise of each partner. Optimally, this will enhance the scientific exchange and contribute to the excellence of our research.

See the previous workshops for more information:

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