The call for application is over!

We have been overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of applications. Thanks to all, who have submitted their documents. The committee will meet on May 17 to select the candidates who will be informed shortly thereafter. We will also inform those who haven´t been chosen within due course.

We are very much looking forward to the forthcoming Summer School event in Potsdam!

Modern pluralistic societies face many challenges. In 2018 we will explore the terrestrial Earth Surface System and how it is driven by geological, biological and climatic forces.

The fifth Potsdam Summer School from 10th – 19th September 2018 will address these central questions:

Why is the Earth Surface dynamic?
What are the triggers for dynamic processes?
What are possible societal adaptation strategies for sustainable land management?

With its overarching theme – „THE SKIN  OF OUR PLANET – THE EARTH SURFACE SYSTEM“ – this Summer School will continue the transdisciplinary and interactive event series that has been held annually in Potsdam, Germany since 2014. The aim is to bring together talented early-career scientists and young professionals from the private sector, governmental agencies and non-governmental organisations in many different parts of the world to discuss frontier research questions on future sustainable development. In this context, the Potsdam Summer School provides a unique opportunity for all participants to foster international cooperation and an exchange of ideas.

The following topics will structure the discussions:

  • Beneath the Surface: Drivers, Triggers, and Forces for Dynamic Changes
  • At the Surface I: The Role, Function, and Traits of the Earth Surface for the Evolution of Life
  • At the Surface II: The Role, Function, and Traits of the Earth Surface for the Human Habitat
  • Land Management to feed the Earth
  • Different Approaches in Land Management – (with Excursion?)
  • The Role of the Oceans in the Earth Surface System
  • Above the Surface: Earth Surface System and Climate Impact
  • From the Surface: How the Earth Surface has been shaped in the Anthropocene

The issues span a multitude of disciplines and invite stakeholders from the public and private sector to get involved. The programme will comprise lectures, various discussion formats, and interactive project activities, including hands-on demonstrations, workshops, and group projects.

In partnership with GeoX and the City of Potsdam, the 2018 Potsdam Summer School will be jointly organised by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and the University of Potsdam. Experts, stakeholders, and guest lecturers from high level national and international institutes and organisations will contribute knowledge and insights to the Summer School programme.

The entire Summer School will be conducted in English.

Participants of the Potsdam Summer School can earn a maximum of 4 ECTS-credits within the framework of this programme. They will be comprised as follows:

2 ECTS-credits for preparation and participation in the ten-day programme
1 ECTS-credit for follow-up research
1 ECTS-credit for preparation and presentation of a webinar

The organisers are looking forward to receiving applications from young professionals from various backgrounds to explore with us the Earth Surface System as a complex system of closely coupled processes and feedbacks that are not yet sufficently understood. Transdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of these interactions is essential since the earth´s surface is the foundation for all human activity.

The deadline for submitting completed applications was on 15th May 2018 at 23:59 UTC.

Any application received after this date can only be entertained on a space-available basis.

For further information, please contact angela.borowski(at)


Please note:

Photographs and film footage may be taken during this event, which may or may not include your recognisable image or a video. By submitting your application you consent to being photographed or filmed and authorise the organisers to use the photographs or film in print, digital, video or web-based format for its promotional and archival purposes.


Applicants, aged 25 to 45 from all countries are welcome. Applications are sought not only from advanced graduated students, postdoctoral fellows, junior and senior faculty members in relevant disciplines but also from representatives of governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as from the private sector. Women, minorities and young professionals or students from developing countries are especially encouraged to apply. The enrollment is limited to 30 participants.


A tuition fee of € 280 will be charged from each participant. The cost of accommodation, lunch and most dinners will be covered for with exception of the weekend (Sep 15/16) and the evenings of Sep 14 and 18 where evenings will be at own leisure. Participants are expected to arrange and pay for their own travel to and from the Summer School event in Potsdam. In individual limited cases the organisers can make alternative arrangements upon request.

If you want to check additional funding opportunities and/or suitable scholarships please try the following databases:

German Academic Exchange Service


Application Requirements

A full application consists of the following documents:

  • A current resumé or curriculum vitae
  • A letter of motivation
  • The completely filled out application form → click here for download of the PDF.

Your resumé or curriculum vitae should include a clear description of your current educational or professional status, your photo and a list of publications, if any.

Your letter of motivation should explain why you want to attend the Potsdam Summer School. The statement can be 1 – 2 pages in length.

We also require two references. When you complete the application form, please also provide the e-mail address of the two persons, you would like to give as references.

It is important that you name your file according to the following order:

last name_first name_year of birth(YYYY)

For example: borowski_angela_1900

Full applications submitted by 15th May, 2018 no later than 23:59 UTC will be given due consideration.

Any application received after this date can only be entertained on a space-available basis. For further information, please email angela.borowski(at)

Upload Master Sheet / Apply online

All the above mentioned documents should be transmitted at the same time and uploaded as a single pdf-file using this Upload Master Sheet. The file size has to be limited to max. 8 MB.
If you don’t already have a software programme generating pdf-files, a large number of free software can be found easily on the internet. Just search for „pdf generator“ or „pdf creator“.

Organising Partners: