Volkswagen Foundation provides funding for FAU research on the coronavirus


Many perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic

The Volkswagen Foundation is funding research at FAU in a number of research areas related to the coronavirus as part of its ‘Corona Crisis and Beyond’ programme. From over 1100 applications received by the Foundation, 100 projects have been selected for funding including five projects at FAU. Each project will receive funding for the duration of 1.5 years which amounts to around 120,000 euros.

Ensuring state food and nutrition security through alternative food networks

Research on Covid-19 and food and nutrition security in Bangkok and Singapore.

In their project ‘Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Urban Food Systems and Citizenship – Lessons (Still to Be) Learnt from Singapore and Bangkok (COVLess)’, FAU geographers Prof. Dr. Fred Krüger and Prof. Dr. Axel Drescher are investigating how urban alternative food networks, such as community-supported agriculture, can combine urban food and nutrition security with environmentally sound production and utilization approaches to promote social cohesion in urban environments.

Singapore is highly dependent on food imports and in Bangkok, street markets play a fundamental role in supplying food to its people. Together with research partners in Thailand and Singapore, the project team is addressing the questions of how the pandemic is specifically affecting urban food and nutrition security, what chances and opportunities are opening up for new types of initiatives in the wake of the pandemic, and what approaches are promising for developing megacities in a more resilient, environmentally friendly and socially sustainable way in the future.

Further information

Prof. Dr. Fred Krüger,

Solidarity between young and old during the coronavirus pandemic

Investigating intergenerational solidarity in the coronavirus crisis.

At the Institute of Sociology at FAU, a team led by Dr. Larissa Pfaller is researching the topic of intergenerational responsibility and solidarity during the coronavirus pandemic. The project ‘The Public (Re-)Negotiation of Intergenerational Solidarity and Responsibility in the Coronavirus Pandemic’ is a collaboration between FAU and the University of Oldenburg, where Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda, Ethics in Medicine, is the lead researcher. The project is coordinated from Erlangen.

Intergenerational solidarity and responsibility have become central but controversial topics in public debate during the coronavirus pandemic. The research team from Erlangen and Oldenburg examines how structures of solidarity between young and old are negotiated in media and political discourse and how concepts of responsibility are discussed. The project looks closely at public media as well as debates and political speeches to explore which stakeholders make reference to responsibility and solidarity and how their statements can be evaluated ethically.

Further information

Dr. Larissa Pfaller,

On uncertainty and criticism:

A qualitative analysis of critical positions on coronavirus measures

How do people react to uncertainty and how do they express criticism? Dr. Marie-Kristin Döbler and Annerose Böhrer from the Institute of Sociology at FAU are dealing with these issues. Their research analyses how the people of Mitterteich in Bavaria dealt with uncertainty and insecurity as well as their doubts and criticism of political measures between March and April 2020.

The study ‘Spring in Mitterteich – A qualitative analysis of critical positions, epistemic struggles and discursive dynamics’ focuses on the town of Mitterteich in Bavaria where the first curfew was announced in Germany between March and April in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The researchers examine critical statements and doubts of the inhabitants about the political measures and the subsequent reactions of fellow citizens and the media. In their research, they draw on content from social media platforms, reports in local newspapers, personal interviews, and other sources. Mitterteich was in the spotlight of the national and international press at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. How the media reported on Mitterteich during this time is also part of the study.

Further information

Dr. Marie-Kristin Döbler,

Annerose Böhrer,

Global autocratic collaboration during the coronavirus pandemic:

Investigating how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting partnerships between autocratic states.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Demmelhuber, Chair of Middle Eastern Politics and Society is investigating whether the pandemic is accelerating cooperation between autocratic states. There is a constant exchange between China and the Arab Gulf monarchies via the new Silk Road. Prof. Demmelhuber, together with his project partners in Freiburg and Bonn, is investigating the extent to which this corridor is also being used to promote autocracies as a more efficient model of governance during the coronavirus pandemic. China has fought the pandemic with extensive repression and surveillance technologies such as tracing apps and artificial intelligence. These methods are now being emulated as ‘best practice models’ for pandemic control by other autocratic states. Surveillance technologies and the Chinese model serve to more effectively monitor the population and strengthen the autocratic rule of the Arab Gulf monarchies.

The project ‘Global autocratic collaboration in times of COVID19: game changer or business as usual in Sino-Gulf relations?’ is conducted in cooperation with the University of Freiburg and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient in Bonn (CARPO).

Further information

Prof. Dr. Thomas Demmelhuber,

Coronavirus transmission by heat

In addition to the projects listed here, a project in chemistry on coronavirus transmission by heat led by Prof. Dr. Karl Mandel is also receiving funding from the Volkswagen Foundation.