The Institute


Networking, researching, consulting – founded in 2021, this is what the German Institute for Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research (DIFIS) does. DIFIS is a focal point, an independent think tank and a service facility for social policy research, teaching and policy advice in Germany. High-quality social policy research offers knowledge, strategies and recommendations to the general public, politicians and public administration. To this end, DIFIS engages with the challenges facing society and initiates new research on the future development of the welfare state and social protection.

DIFIS lives from the commitment and cooperation of a wide range of actors. We warmly welcome researchers from all fields of social policy as well as social policy practitioners to cooperate with DIFIS and we encourage them to contact us with their ideas and suggestions. These cooperative formats are currently being planned:

  • Organizing brown bag seminars and other transfer events to promote dialogue between academia, politics and civil society
  • Cooperating in organizing and holding workshops and conferences
  • Commissioning short expert reports
  • Supporting the preparation of research-based impulse papers and blog entries


DIFIS is an inter-university institute run jointly by the Universities of Duisburg-Essen and Bremen within the responsibility of the Institute for Work, Skills and Training (IAQ), Duisburg and the SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy, Bremen. Prof. Dr. Ute Klammer (IAQ) is the Director of DIFIS, Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier (SOCIUM) is the Executive Director. DIFIS is funded by the Funding Network for Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research (FIS) of the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS). Initially, DIFIS will run as a project. At the end of the initial project period (2021–2026), DIFIS will become the independent Institute for Social Policy Research.

The two rectors of the Universities of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) and Bremen (UB) as well as a representative of the BMAS are members of the DIFIS Board, which supervises the institute. The Operative Board is responsible for managing DIFIS. Its members include the Director and Executive Director, one research team leader or one head of a topic area at DIFIS with an affiliation to either UDE or UB, as well as one representative of the academic staff and one representative of the administrative and service staff. If desired, a representative of BMAS can participate in Board meetings (without voting rights). In addition, the General Assembly, which is an open members’ assembly comprised of academics working for DIFIS, and a Scientific Advisory Council advise DIFIS’s Directors and Operative Board.


DIFIS was founded on the initiative of initially 26 academics from the universities of Duisburg-Essen and Bremen as well as other German universities. DIFIS is also advised by expert practitioners and an international advisory board, and cooperates with well-known institutes working in relevant fields. 

The following founding members represent DIFIS at different locations:

10 academics from the University of Duisburg-Essen:
  • Prof. Dr. Ute Klammer (Director of DIFIS)
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Brussig
  • Prof. Dr. Sibylle Stöbe-Blossey
  • Dr. Thorsten Schlee
  • Prof. Dr. Karen Shire
  • Prof. Dr. Simone Leiber
  • Prof. Dr. Dirk Hofäcker
  • Prof. Dr Achim Goerres
  • Prof. Dr. Paul Marx
  • Prof. Dr. Carsten Ullrich
10 academics from the University of Bremen:
  • Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier (Executive Director of DIFIS)
  • Prof. Dr. Karin Gottschall
  • Prof. Dr. Carina Schmitt
  • Prof. Dr. Cornelius Torp
  • Prof. Dr. Werner Eichhorst
  • Prof. Dr. Sebastian Fehrler
  • Prof. Dr. Olaf Groh-Samberg
  • Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
  • Prof. Dr Herbert Obinger
  • Prof. Dr. Simone Scherger
6 external founding members:
  • Prof. Dr. Stephan Rixen (University of Bayreuth)
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Sauer (Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences)
  • Prof. Dr. Sigrid Leitner (Cologne University of Applied Sciences)
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Becker (Max Planck Institute Munich)
  • Prof. Dr Eva Kocher (Viadrina University, Frankfurt/Oder)
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Werding (Ruhr University Bochum)
Advisory members:
  • Eva M. Welskop-Deffaa (Board Member for Social and Professional Policy, Deutscher Caritasverband e.V., Freiburg)
  • Sabine Knickrehm (Presiding Judge at the Federal Social Court, Kassel)
Cooperating organizations:
  • Caritas
  • German Center of Gerontology (DZA)
  • Hans Böckler Foundation
  • Institute for Employment Research (IAB)
  • Research Network on Old-Age Provision (FNA)
International members of the Scientific Advisory Council:
  • Prof. Dr. Wim van Oorschot (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
  • Prof. Dr. Jochen Clasen (University of Edinburgh)
  • Prof. Dr. Traute Meyer (University of Southampton)


DIFIS is currently being organized by the following staff members at the Duisburg and Bremen locations:

  • Dr. Shweta Mishra (Managing Director)
  • Dr. Nicole Vetter (Academic Management)
  • Dr. Rebecca Schrader (Academic Management)
  • Dr. Miruna Bacali (Communicating Scientific Findings and Public Relations)
  • Dana Morisse (Communicating Scientific Findings and Public Relations)
  • Alicja Cholodowski (Administration)
  • Christina Hildebrandt (Administration and Finance)
  • Tom Heilmann (Researcher)
  • Philipp Langer (Researcher)
  • Carolin Kroll (Researcher)
  • Monica Bolelli (Coordination Research Field 3)
  • Marina Ruth (Coordination Research Field 5)
  • Simon Rickel (Research Assistant)
  • Katharina Bohnenberger (Coordination Research Field 1)
  • Verena Engelhardt (Administration and Project Management)
  • Dr. Anna Hokema (Teaching and Continuing Education; International Cooperation)
  • Miriam Laschinski (Coordination Research Field 4)
  • Johanna Ritter (Communicating Scientific Findings and Public Relations)
  • Dr. Olexandr Nikolaychuk (Coordination Research Field 6)
  • Dr. Achim Schmid (Research Infrastructure)
  • Fiona Elbing, Jan-Ole Deitmer and Marius Kunte (student assistants)