Summer Semester 2020

Due to Covid19, all courses will be taught online for the moment. You will receive more information about how and when to join the courses soon. Please be ensured that we will keep you updated at all times.


Note: this page is subjected to modifications. Please follow up for updates.

Module 2 – Concepts of Chinese Cultural Orientations and Decision-Making (10 ECTS)

Students are required to choose two of the following classes (5 ECTS)

Lecturer: Dr. Dominik Müller

Time and Place: Mon. 12:00am – 2:00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room n.V.


Synopsis: This interdisciplinary course introduces students of the SDAC program to the field of Islam and Human Rights in Asia. We will examine a range of contrasting perspectives in scholarly and public debates on Islam’s assumed (in-)compatibility with international human rights law, in order to develop a nuanced understanding of the questions at stake. Emphasis will be given to the arguments and advocacy practices of Muslim activists and organizations who promote universal human rights in (and beyond) Asian societies on various normative grounds. We will particularly investigate their decision-making in human rights advocacy strategies, which include context-adjusted, culturally-sensitive forms of “translated” advocacy alongside other approaches. We will also identify some key themes in human rights related to Islam and Muslim socities (including both majority and minority situations) in very different societal settings in Asia, ranging from Muslim majority countries (e.g. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia) to minority situations (such as China, Myanmar)

Students will also become acquainted with some prominent critiques of universal human rights and the organizations/activists promoting them, followed by a close-reading of reactions and more hopeful responses to these critiques from within the human rights movement.

In two sessions, the course plans host experienced international human rights “activist-lawyersscholars” (for the lack of a better term) who will discuss with us their personal experiences with decision-making in context-adjusted human rights advocacy practices in the Muslim World (details will be announced in the first week). These two activists will also discuss with us their responses to critiques of universal human rights law and how they constructively incorporate them in their work. In this context, the main focus will be on the struggle for women’s rights in Muslim societies in Asia (and, to some extent overlapping, in the Middle East) and transnational as well as local organizations and individuals supporting it.

To complete the course, students are required to submit 1-2 comments or questions related to the readings via email on the day before the class (no later than 10pm). In addition, students will also receive questions to think about in preparation of each session. Some sessions will include short student presentations (to be decided in the first week).

This is a work-intensive course: For a successfully completion it is decisive that participants read the weekly literature, which comprises academic publications (primarily from the social sciences), scholarly contributions to public debates in various media formats, and human rights reports. It is impossible to participate without having prepared all readings. The course is open to non-SDAC students from any other study programs at FAU, as long as participants prepare the weekly readings and attend regularly.

COVID19 CRISIS UPDATE: The course will definitely take place – if necessary, entirely online. This will require various flexible adaptations to the original course program.

Lecturer: Dr. Dimitri Drettas

Time and Place: Tue. 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276



This course aims to present and examine the variety of ways used, in the context of traditional Chinese culture, to obtain an awareness of possible situations or events that have yet to occur, in order to facilitate decision-making processes in the personal, political and economic spheres.
Those methods all have in common the importance given to historical precedents and their overreliance on divination. In this perspective, decisions concerning everyday life (wedding, travels, healthcare) or the administrative and diplomatic fields (policy making, war, and peace) are viewed as singular events whose optimal conditions can be predicted. Mantic practices such as sorting the Yijing 易經 (Book of Changes) hexagrams, dream interpretation, or horoscopy, are recorded in all major works of Chinese historiography as efficient ways to assess the best choice of action. Narratives from the Zuo Tradition or Sima Qian’s Records constitute pattern-setting models of causality in the worldview of traditional culture, which still informs contemporary Chinese society.
Students will be encouraged to apply their analytical skills and critical thinking to explain the seemingly contradictory coexistence of modern science and processes inherited from premodern culture and to question the role played by current repositories of tradition such as almanacs. To that effect, they will be introduced to the common principles of traditional knowledge (cosmology and time reckoning), and to some of the most common techniques practiced nowadays, mainly hexagram sorting and “eight characters fortune telling” (bazi suanming 八字算命). They will be required to familiarize themselves with two essential methodological tools: Claude Lévi-Strauss’ notion of bricolage and Li Ling’s taxonomic work on the set of practices known as “recipes and techniques” (fangshu 方術). The impact of traditional foreknowledge on modern decision-making will be studied through the recurrent coverage, in the Chinese media, of the use of traditional prediction in electoral and commercial strategies, branding and spatial planning, leading to an observation on the relation between officialdom (guanchang 官場) and the necessity to orient oneself in the maze of social life.
Students attending this class will gain an understanding of the cultural background of decision-making in China which will allow them to identify, contextualize and evaluate the rhetoric surrounding official decisions in the Chinese media and political discourse. Moreover, students will be able to recognize the implicit application of traditional methods used to gain knowledge of the invisible, be it actualized or not.


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Stéphanie Homola

Time and Place: Wedn. 10:00am – 12:00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


Synopsis: This lecture in comparative anthropology will address and question the so-called opposition between “Western individualism” and “Chinese collectivism” which is often put forward in literature on decision-making. To do so, we will analyze the roots of Chinese identity and the status of personhood in China. The course will introduce classical studies by Chinese sociologist and anthropologist Fei Xiaotong on social organization in China. We will also rely on more recent works about the issue of morality in contemporary China by anthropologist Yan Yunxiang as well as about the art of social networking (guanxi). In order to give a broader picture of the classical opposition between “the West” and “the East”, the course will also take into account non-Western and non-Asian worldviews and present the structuralist approach of anthropologist Philippe Descola.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Dr. Philipp Balsiger

Time and Place: Mon. 4:00pm – 6:00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room x



Economic globalization together with multilateral politics, and various other, new determinations of presumed traditional values seem to have caused a perceived dissolution of the world in its political framing of the late 19th century. Especially nationalist and conservative circles do believe in such loss. For them such signs of disintegration express a form of decadency. Hence, they bring to the fore the argument that identity should be enhanced again. In their words, this means to exclude everything and everybody that is unknown and that has not come across until now. Finally, it is the rejection of any kind of new knowledge. But, on the long run, is such position to be maintained? As Appiah and Fukuyama have presented two books on the topic, the discourse seems to become tougher. Therefore, the seminar will take both books into consideration.

Morality, Ethics, Human dignity, Self, Personal Identity, Globalization

‒ APPIAH, Kwame Anthony, The Lies that bind. Rethinking Identity. London, Profile Books 2018.
‒ FUKUYAMA, Francis. Identity. The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment. New York, Picador 2019.


Module 4 – Influences of Cultural-Religious Variances on Decision-Making Processes (10 ECTS)

Students are required to choose two of the following classes (5 ECTS)

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Stéphanie Homola

Time and Place: Thu. 12:00am – 2:00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


Synopsis: This seminar will introduce Chinese media and Chinese Internet culture, including blogging, social networks, censorship issues, Internet language, and social control issues. It will also provide useful tools to search for and monitor both academic and general information on Chinese society and culture. We will deepen our knowledge of contemporary Chinese society through media documentation and cultural products such as printed and digital press, documentary films, movies, literature, and music.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Dominik Müller

Time and Place: Thu. 10:00am – 12:00am, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


Synopsis: This course will introduce second-semester students of the SDAC Program to the political anthropology of Southeast Asia, focusing in particular on the post-colonial and contemporary period. In a broadly accessible manner tailored to the SDAC’s interdisciplinary setting, we will discuss theoretical and ethnographic themes, including foundational classics of the discipline, alongside newer and in some cases unpublished research. Issues to be discussed include, for example, Southeast Asian cultural conceptions of leadership and power, studies of domination and resistance (and more complex nuances in-between), everyday state-making, religious politics, environmental politics, gender, minorities, globalization, citizenship and sovereignty.

Regionally, we will primarily concentrate on Maritime Southeast Asia, especially Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, but may also bring in other contexts (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia), depending on the students’ interests. We will discuss this in the first and second session and can re-adjust the syllabus accordingly.

Building upon the foundations of the SDAC program’s introduction to the anthropology of decision-making in the first semester, we will critically examine the newly discussed studies’ capacities to enrich our understanding of decisions, choices and agency vis-vis their sociocultural and political embeddedness in Southeast Asia. In some sessions, guests will share with us some of their ongoing research projects related to Southeast Asian politics.

Upon successful completion, students will have acquired competences to better understand political and socio-cultural transformations in Southeast Asia and analyze them vis-à-vis parallel developments in other regions (while critically reconsidering the very logics of “regional” and “cultural” distinctions). They will also learn to identify crucial actors, institutions and events of post-colonial and contemporary Southeast Asian politics and develop an understanding of how anthropologists have studied and theorized them. Students will be encouraged to immerse themselves into Southeast Asian perspectives and discourses, while unthinking normalized “cultural”/national stereotypes.

This is a work-intensive course: For a successfully completion it is decisive that participants read all of the weekly literature. They will also make brief weekly entries (1- 2 pages) to Learning Diary before and after each session (explained in first session).
Each student will give one presentation (not more that 10 minutes!) during the semester.
The course is open to non-SDAC students from any other study programs at FAU. It is possible to audit the class, as long as participants regularly attend and prepare the weekly readings.
Students interested in deepening their engagement with the political anthropology of Southeast Asia are encouraged to approach the lecturer and discuss a possible supervision and project ideas, either for their Master thesis or to begin the pre-doctoral preparations of a PhD project.

COVID19 CRISIS UPDATE: The course will definitely take place – if necessary, entirely online. This will require various flexible adaptations to the original course program.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Robert LaFleur

Time and Place: Frid. 04:00pm – 06:00pm (may change after two weeks due to the lecturer being abroad), Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


Synopsis: This seminar will focus upon the manner in which the sacred mountains of China are employed in a complex set of strategic decisions that affect a wide array of issues in individual and social lives, today and in the past. The five-mountain sequence—often, somewhat mistakenly, called “Daoist” mountains—is really a pre-sectarian set of peaks that go back three thousand years in Chinese history. They were perceived as tools for the “early kings” to coordinate time and space in the early mythology of China. Over time, they quickly became pilgrimage sites, with many thousands of travelers traveling to them each year over the past twenty centuries. Today, the mountains have become provincial and national parks in China, including one UNESCO heritage site.
The southern mountain (often called “Longevity Mountain”), along with its adjacent community, is a location where the vast majority of travelers take the pilgrimage experience very seriously. This seminar will examine the ways in which people make decisions throughout their stays on the southern mountain—from where to reside and dine (decisions that fuel the local economy) to how to “spend” their incense sticks at the more than thirty temples that dot the mountain. It is a “microeconomics of sacrality” that affects individuals, family, and the larger community. Further, our focus on daily decision-making in a pilgrimage context will help us to understand decision-making processes in their wider dimensions, taking seriously the seemingly small decisions that people make, along with their implications for larger life decisions, as well.

Lecturer: Aida Bosch/ Markus Promberger

Time and Place: univis



Decision making is one of the core issues in the economy, politics, and social affairs throughout the world. Moreover, it is of crucial scientific interest, as here it is where social structure meets human action, degrees of freedom meet constraints, social power meets different cultures, rationalities and interests, and decision-makers and other actors cooperate in specific ways within organizations and networks. Good decision making is one micro foundation of survival and sustainability of organizations and other collective actors, both for themselves and in relation to their (embeddedness in) social, cultural and natural environments. Thus, making a decision is not just an act of free will, power, and resources, but is bounded within and growing out from cultural, social and economic frameworks along paths, structures, and corridors of possibilities and constraints.

The seminar will introduce into a set of classic and present-day theories and case studies of decision making in organizations and societies. We are going to combine the classical questions of individual actors, power and interests, and the (ir)rationality of organizational processes with the most recent topics of intercultural and transcultural contexts and organization-environment relations.

Recommended Literature:

  • Friedberg, E., & Crozier, M. (1980). Actors and systems: The politics of collective action. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Ekman, P. (2003). Emotions Revealed. London: Weidenfeld&Nicolson
  • Gigerenzer, G. (2008): Gut Feelings. Penguin
  • March, J.(1989). Decisions and organizations. Oxford/New York: John Wiley & Sons
  • March, J. (1994): A primer on decision making. How decisions happen. New York: Free Press
  • Rosa, H. (2003). Social acceleration: ethical and political consequences of a desynchronized high–speed society. Constellations, 10(1), 3-33.
  • Sennett, R. (2012). Together: The rituals, pleasures, and politics of cooperation. Yale University Press.
  • Weber, M. (2004). The Essential Weber. Edited by Sam Whimster. New York, NY.


Module 6 – Rationalities of Decision-Making (10 ECTS)

Due to the current situation with Covid19, the spring school schedule had to be adapted. You should have received an email about the changed schedule by now.

Lecturer(s): Prof. Dr. Dominik Müller, Sven Grundmann, M.A.

Time and Place: 


Synopsis: The Workshop-Series goes beyond the classes taught in the framework of the Master’s program “Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures” and provides the students with insights from practitioners and selected scholars. Students will get the opportunity to develop and train new sets of skills and to discover the state of the art of applied research in the humanities and social sciences. In the upcoming summer semester, we offer a diverse program which will cover workshops on futurology and rhetorics.


Students are required to choose one of the following classes (5 ECTS)

Lecturer(s): Martina Gottwald-Belinic

Time and Place: Wed. 12:00am – 02:00pm,, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


Synopsis: Game theory provides useful tools to help solve decision-making problems and deals with the application into organization, where different stakeholders interact (from Industrial organization, Non-Profit-organizations, Governmental organizations, etc.).

Game theory is the theory of independent and interdependent decision making. The lectures will focus on decision making within the (business) organizations where the outcome depends on the decisions of two or more autonomous players and where no single decision maker has full control over the outcomes. The game theory model is constructed around the strategic choices available to players, where the preferred outcomes are clearly defined and known. Game theory distinct among cooperative game (the players need to signal their intentions to one other), zero-sum non-cooperative game (players need to conceal their intentions from each other), mixed-motive game (the players’ interests are simultaneously opposed and coincident). Besides we will talk about the three categories of games: games of skill; games of chance; and games of strategy.

We will employ standard games such as the prisoner’s dilemma, coordination, hawk-dove, and costly signaling, and use standard game theory tools such as Nash Equilibria, Subgame Perfection, and Perfect Bayesian Equilibria. These tools will be taught from the scratch and no existing knowledge of game theory, economics, or mathematics is required.

Classes will consist of lectures, discussion of assigned readings and exercises illustrating the main concepts – theoretical frames application into the practice and applied game cases. Students will be expected to get familiar with the literature presented in the class, to think critically and analytically and to present and defend ideas clearly and rigorously. This implies a lot of reading and students will earn their grades by submitting the problem set from the concept taught in classes. Besides, there will be a final examination based on learned topics.

Further following interdisciplinary application in managerial economics will be given:
1. Preference Relations (Utility and Utility Maximization Problem; Expenditure Minimization Problem; Duality; Welfare Analysis)
3. Producer Theory (Production Sets, Production with a Single Output, Cost Minimization
4. Choice Under Uncertainty (Lotteries; Expected Utility Theory; Utility for Money and Risk Aversion; Stochastic Dominance; State-dependent Utility; Non-expected utility theory)
5. Simultaneous-Move Games (Dominance Solvability; Nash Equilibrium; Bayesian Nash Equilibrium)
6. Dynamic Games (Subgame Perfection and Sequential equilibrium)
7. As supplementary topics: the “shapley” value in cooperative games, social justice (decision making in democratic society), the (mathematical) matching problem

Osborne, M. and A. Rubenstein (1994), A Course in Game Theory, Cambridge, MIT Press.
Fudenberg, D. and Tirole, J. (2007), Game Theory, Cambridge, MIT Press.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Dr. Philipp Balsiger

Time and Place: Wed. 04:00pm – 06:00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


Synopsis: From a philosophical point of view this anthropological topic has become important again since French philosophers have rediscovered the importance of gifts and offerings for establishing solid social situations. The seminar will mainly focus on the classical text of Marcel Mauss (1872–1950). But there will also be further sideways glances, especially on George Bataille. Concerning the anthropologist Marcel Mauss, social life is based on the triad of offering, accepting, and responding. For long time this hypothesis has solely been discussed in the anthropological discourse. Since the 1990ties it has become fashionable among philosophers to re-think about this topic. Philosophers as Derrida, Lévinas, or Ricoeur are unanimous in their opinion that offering is a process of exchanging which is based on reciprocity as a precondition. Current philosophical contributions accept that the base of such exchange is less rigid. Their re-definition brings in new aspects that have to be considered.

Social philosophy, Philosophy of economy, Social Society, Exchange of Gifts, Ethics.

‒ Mauss, Marcel (1990, orig. pub. 1925). The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Routledge Classics (Paperback)
– Bataille, Georges (1988, orig. pub. 1949). The Accursed Share. Vol. 1: Consumption, New York: Zone Books

Lecturer: Sven Grundman
Time and Place: Tue. 04:00pm – 06.00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276
Synopsis: In an increasingly complex world, politicians must make a decision under uncertainty and risk. In this seminar, we analyze how new forms of collaborative governance might help to improve controversial decision-making processes. We will examine the relationships between policy design, collaborative governance, and political institutions, as to identify possible resolutions to transform political conflicts into productive and sustainable outcomes. This course will blend theoretical insights with professional practice examples from Europe and abroad.
Recommended Reading: Hoppe, Robert (2010): The Governance of Problems. Puzzling, Powering, Participation. Bristol.

Lecturer: Anna Schneider

Time and Place: Mon. 02:00pm – 04:00pm, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


Synopsis: This course is structured in two parts: an introduction to Digital Sociology as well as a practical approach focusing on qualitative research in the digital age.
We will start with an introduction to Digital Sociology as such and get to know basic theoretical approaches to the digital society. We will critically reflect Big Data and re-think our understanding of the self and community in the digital age. Other aspects we are going to examine include social temporalities, space and renewed approaches to (e-)health.
To deepen the theoretical understanding and enable students to use digital methods for their research, the course will introduce and discuss field research and research strategies in digital societies. Students are required to experiment with digital methods and to conclude their own research project over the duration of the course.

Reading List

Boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012): Critical questions for big data: Provocations for a cultural, technological and scholarly phenomenon. Information, communication & society, 15(5), 662-679.
Lupton, D. (2013): Digital Sociology. London and New York: Routledge.
Marres, N. (2017): Digital Sociology. The Reinvention of Social Research. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Orton-Johnson, K. & Prior, N. (2013): Digital Sociology.Critical Perspectives. Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan.
Salganik, M. J. (2018): Bit by Bit. Social Research in the Digital Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Stets, J. & Serpe R. (2016): New Directions in Identity Theory and Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wajcman, J. & Dodd, N. (2017): The Sociology of Speed. Digital, Organizational, and Social Temporalities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Module 10 – Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS)

As this is classified as a writing seminar, you will not receive an official mark; however, in order to submit the master thesis, we require that students attend and encourage full participation.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Robert LaFleur

Time and Place: Week 1: May 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th / Week 2: May 20th, 21st, 23rd, 24th; 9:00-12:00, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Conference Room


In this short, intensive seminar students will work closely with a professor and writing instructor, who will help them to mold their data and fieldwork experiences into a polished written paper. Students will also have the opportunity to practice oral presentations of their research in preparation for their thesis defence. This seminar is mandatory for fourth-semester students.


Additional Classes

Lecturer: Dr. Drettas

Time and Place: Thurs. 02:00 – 04:00, Henkestraße 91, House 8, Room 02.276


This course aims introduces non-Sinophone students to the fundamental features of Modern Standard Mandarin, in the form normalized as Putonghua 普通话 (the official national language of the People’s Republic of China), in order to best prepare them to their Beijing semester by allowing them to apply their basic knowledge as soon as they arrive in China, hence facilitating their acclimation to this new linguistic and cultural environment.

A strong emphasis is put on a phonetic acquisition and oral training, with stress on tonal patterns and prosody. The official romanization system, Hanyu Pinyin 汉语拼音, is introduced shortly before the sinograms, or Chinese characters (Hanzi 汉字), in their official simplified form. Following the didactic principles of Joël Bellassen and Zhang Pengpeng (A Key to Chinese Speech and Writing, Beijing: 1997), oral and written expression will be comprehensively taught together: once word compounds are explained, the characters rendering them are fully presented one by one, from their etymology to their stroke order, their main semantic values and a selection of the words they form with other characters.

A typical session starts with 15 to 20 minutes of exposition by the instructor, using set phrases and introducing new words and grammatical features which the students are required to reproduce by interacting with the instructor and with one another. The rest of the class is then dedicated to explaining the new content in English, hence giving students the opportunity to verify their intuitive and deductive skills, a necessary foundation to the build-up of Sprachgefühl. Audiovisual material such as popular songs and recordings of radio or television shows are used whenever possible, as a way to accustom students to the sonorities and rhythm of the language. Regular interactive exercises include the deciphering of street signs, advertisements, and news headlines.

Fundamental cultural elements pertaining to the history, geography, society, and customs of contemporary China are introduced on the occasion of each new lesson (e.g., teaching the 5 cardinal points will lead into the names and locations of the country’s 23 provinces). Occasionally, other varieties of Chinese, such as Cantonese and Hokkien, are mentioned, as well as Classical Chinese and “traditional” (unsimplified) characters, as they all permeate, to various degrees, the language habits of today’s Chinese Mainland.

By the end of the semester, students will be expected to command at least a third of the 400 most frequent characters defined by Bellassen and Zhang as the “minimal threshold” of essential sinograms. They should be able to look up unfamiliar characters using printed or digital dictionaries, and to write simple texts on paper or electronic devices, using both handwriting and Pinyin input methods. They will know how to introduce themselves, engage in a simple conversation, and formulate elementary requests in standard modern Chinese.