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Since it was founded in 2010, the smartNETWORK has considered itself as a place and incubator for interdisciplinary exchange. The network supports doctoral candidates and postdocs, graduate schools and larger collaborative projects. In addition to active networking of the institutions, the changing anchor theme also provides impulses: The first anchor theme from 2010 to 2015 was “Decision - Strategy - Public”. This was followed by “Public(s) and Culture(s) of Debate” from 2016 to 2019, which has been continued since 2019 as “Culture(s) of Debate and Media in Transition".

The current anchor topic is supported within the framework of the Topical Programs of the WWU and is intended to open up the topic of “Culture(s) of Debate in Media Change” as an interdisciplinary field.

The current initiative from departments 6, 8 and 9 is led by Ursula Frohne, Philip Hoffman-Rehnitz and Barbara Winckler as spokesperson.