Mission Statement and Developing Goals

The Faculty of Social and Political Sciences

The Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (comprising the Departments of Applied Sociology of Law and Criminology; Media, Society and Communication; Political Science; and Sociology) conceives its core task as addressing the major social and political challenges of our time. These include the erosion of orders, the transformation of political participation, social division and growing social inequality, the management of conflicts, the effects of digitalization, the climate crisis and the socio-ecological transformation. To meet these challenges, the faculty focuses on internationally visible research, research-led teaching, and knowledge transfer to the public and key societal stake-holders.

Excellence in teaching
The faculty pursues the ideal of research-led teaching in the context of an in-person university. We realize this ideal in two Bachelor's programmes (Political Science and Sociology), three Master's programmes (Media, Society and Communication; Political Science; Sociology), two PhD programs (Political Science and Sociology), and through participation in interdepartmental programs (MA Gender, Culture and Social Change; MsC Digital International Affairs; Specialization in Media Education and Digital Literacy) and elective packages (Digital Science; Society and Politics; Media and Communication; Media Practice; Methods of Empirical Social Research; Law, Security, and Society) as well as extramural continuing education programs.

The faculty is aware that the lifeworld of our students is changing and that academic teaching is becoming increasingly international. To address these transformations, it is committed to (1) further expanding the share of English-language courses; (2) blocking selected courses and/or offering them at off-peak times to ensure better compatibility of studies and work; (3) making increased use of the potential of digital learning and education opportunities in higher education where improved learning outcomes can be achieved; and (4) strengthening the applied focus in teaching and preparing students  for professions outside academia.

Excellence in research
With its expertise in the field of theories and methods of communication, media, political and social research, the faculty conceives itself as an attractive partner for interdisciplinary intra-university, national and international research collaborations.

In addition to internationally visible individual research, the faculty aims at establishing disciplinary and interdisciplinary research groups. The faculty participates in the university's research system and pursues both regionally as well as internationally oriented research. The focus lies on cooperation within the research area EPoS. At the same time, we strive for a closer cooperation with other research areas (e.g., Mountain Regions, DiSC) and platforms (e.g., CGI) as well as for the expansion within the university’s research system. In addition, we aim to strengthen and expand regional, national and international research collaborations.

The faculty advocates externally funded research and particularly focuses on increased publications with international visibility (especially quality-assured publications with peer-review).

Modern social sciences are dependent on an up-to-date research infrastructure. Therefore, the faculty is therefore increasingly active in the establishment of shared research infrastructure within the university (Core Facility "Empirical Behavioral Research and Media Education") and pushes for the establishment and expansion of Austria-wide (digital) research infrastructures (e.g., AUSSDA, the Austrian Social Science Data Archive).

We conceive scientific knowledge as a "public good" and promote Open Science in a comprehensive sense (i.e., Open Access of literature, (research) data, methodology, evaluation/peer review and education). This shift in research culture requires a rethinking of the criteria for acknowledging research output. The faculty is striving for the gradual implementation of an expanded set of indicators along the lines of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment and the Hong Kong Principles.

Third Mission
In addition to research and research-led teaching, the dissemination of social science findings to society, the media, politics and administration (e.g., through participation in ministerial committees and working groups, traditional media and public relations work, and the transfer of knowledge to society through public lectures) is one of the central tasks of the faculty. In addition, the faculty strives to prepare researchers for the third mission through a targeted individual training programme, and addresses the issue of "science care" in line with the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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