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Available researcher positions - call for applications

2 available Early Stage Researchers positions within the ITN The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization

The Marie Curie ITN “The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization” – a collaboration between six universities, nine non-academic partner organizations and 14 PhD fellows (ESRs) – invites applications for 2 full-time Early Stage Researcher (ESR) positions to begin December 1, 2017, or as soon as possible thereafter.

One ESR will be recruited to Reading University, England (subproject 3), and will have a 2-year position, with the possibility of an extension to a third year under a University stipend scheme in order to allow the completion of a Phd if the candidate should choose this option. 

One ESR will be recruited to Aarhus University, Denmark (subproject 12), and will be offered a 3-year PhD contract.

The ITN offers an attractive salary, an interdisciplinary environment, and an innovative training program that allows the ESRs to obtain specialist knowledge of a specific research topic as well as transferable skills that can be used in non-academic institutions.

Project description

The overall research project (the ITN) will trace the historical roots and transformations of the modern conception of the human being and the human values of dignity and freedom, especially in theological and philosophical traditions. In modern western societies, the ideal human being has the right to think, believe, and express itself freely without fearing retribution and to be treated as an autonomous and dignified individual. But such a conception is not shared by all – and never was. Its long history has been formed through a continuous battle between two theological and philosophical traditions going back to Origen of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo, respectively. Origen saw humans as free, valuable, and dignified beings, while Augustine saw them as predestined, sinful, and bound to servitude. The project will continuously circle around this battle between the negative and positive views on humanity that we can encounter in various contexts from antiquity to modern times. By unlocking the patterns of reception they, in turn, can be used as a hermeneutical key to understanding later, modern debates about human freedom, free will, and dignity. Thereby, the project will raise awareness of how ancient philosophical and religious tenets still shape political, moral, and anthropological categories and modes of thinking as well as principles of human conduct. Within this framework, we invite applications for two subprojects:

3. Origen and Bernard of Clairvaux

This research project focuses on the theological anthropology of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). Bernard was firmly embedded in the Augustinian theological tradition, but Origen’s ideas also seem to have influenced Bernard’s views on human freedom, e.g., via his optimistic Christology and doctrine of justification. The project thus aims, first, to detect the influences of Origen on Bernard’s anthropology. Second, it will distill the impact of Bernard’s theology on later debates. 

Location: University of Reading, England

The ESR will be employed at the Department of Classics. Knowledge of Greek and Latin will be an advantage. Main supervisor will be Professor Dr. Karla Pollmann, who can be contacted for further information via The policies and procedures for PhD fellows in Reading can be found via this link:

12. Origen and the modern Protestant tradition

This project will focus on how, where, and to which degree the modern Protestant tradition has been inspired by Origen to argue for individual freedom and value by rejecting pre-determinism. The most important theologians to be investigated in this respect are Karl Barth, Eberhard Jüngel, and Jürgen Moltmann, but a number of other Protestants have followed in their footsteps. The project will also engage with the question whether the modern Protestant embrace of the idea of universal salvation and the rejection of pre-determinism necessarily led to ideas of individual freedom, or if they were rather understood as a loss of freedom. 

Location: Aarhus University, Denmark

The PhD fellow's main place of work will be at the School of Culture and Society, and he/she will be affiliated with the PhD program Theology, History of Ideas and Philosophy. The ideal candidate possesses German reading skills. Main supervisor will be Professor Anders-Christian Jacobsen, who can be contacted for further information via The PhD fellow will be employed as a PhD fellow at the Faculty of Arts and enrolled at the Graduate School, Arts ( in accordance with the Ministerial Order on the PhD degree program at the universities:

Please see this page for terms of employment (section 6.1.4 in the agreement and enclosure 5 in the protocol):


Eligible candidates must have an internationally recognized Master’s or an equivalent degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate, in theology, history, philosophy, classics, religious history, or a related field. They must have less than four years of research experience after their candidate degree and not hold a doctoral degree. The selection committee will seek gender equality among the recruited ESRs, and researchers can be of any nationality. However, eligible candidates have not resided more than 12 of the last 36 months in the country where the ESR position is located for which they apply. Moreover, ESRs will complete 3-6 month secondments with one of the nine non-academic partners as well as at one of the other European universities as part of the training activities. Applicants should demonstrate evidence of effective communication skills in English, both written and oral. If further skills are required or advantageous to complete a subproject, this is mentioned under the individual project descriptions.

Selection is based on the applicants’ academic skills and the relevance of their research experience, their ability to undertake the training activities, as well as on the expected impact of the proposed training on the researchers’ careers. Personal skills and other types of experience, such as pro-activity, participation in community activities, and capacity for teamwork, are also taken into account. See also the Applicant's Guide.


Applications for the fellowships should be submitted to Birgitte Bøgh, The application for the project based at Reading also needs to be submitted through the University website after September 13 (for further information please contact Professor Karla Pollmann, 

Deadline for applications: October 13, 2017, at 23.59 CET.

Before submitting your application, please read more about the ITN research on Click here for a Guide for Applicants.

One or both ESR positions can be applied for. Applicants must enclose a diploma or documentation for submitting his/her Master’s thesis (or equivalent) for assessment by the deadline for application and must have been awarded the degree before starting the employment. Each application (even if both positions are applied for) must contain the relevant personal data (click here), a CV (no longer than 2 A4-pages), a transcript of grades, a Master’s degree diploma (or equivalent) or evidence of its completion before the starting date, as well as a project description not exceeding two A4 pages. This description should include an explanation of your motivation for applying for this particular project and outline how the relevant research project is envisaged.

After the submission deadline, suitable candidates for each subproject will be preselected by a consortium committee, and their applications will be forwarded to the relevant universities. From this point on, the short-listed candidates will follow the local application procedures (on Aarhus University and Reading University, respectively) until a contract is signed.

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For further information on the ITN or the available research projects, please contact the supervisors (see above) or the project manager Birgitte Bøgh via or +45 50 56 54 66.

Links: Guide for Applicants, Personal Data Sheet

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Revised 21.09.2017