The ‘Academic Nachwuchs’ Label in Germany

Ein Forscher, eine Forscherin ist meines Erachtens mit Abschluss der Promotion wissenschaftlich mündig.

After earning a PhD, a scholar has, in my opinion, reached academic adulthood.

I have only ever heard the German term Nachwuchs in an academic context, which I understood to be a label for people rather junior in the profession, “trainees” or “young ones,” if you will. The word sounds strange enough when talking about people with one or more books behind them, families, substantial teaching experience, and so on. Nachwuchs can even mean “offspring,” however, which fits perfectly with the parental term one uses in German for a dissertation advisor—Doktorvater  or Doktormutter. Thus my translation of the above quotation, which comes from a worthwhile read by Karoline Döring on what Americans might call the status of scholars with “nontraditional” academic careers in Germany: “Wollen wir wirklich BeStI(e)n sein? Ein Plädoyer an und gegen ‘den wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs,'” Mittelalter, February 13/14, 2017. (Don’t miss the comments.)

Why post such a link here? The history of knowledge is certainly not just about academic disciplines, scholarly knowledge, and university or university-adjacent careers. Nonetheless, such things affect knowledge production and transmission (teaching, research, how one writes, where one publishes, which audiences one speaks to, etc.) and so are legitimate subjects for this blog. If the linked piece is an argument about status and self-understanding, not scholarship per se, it is also an artifact of knowledge work, albeit one close to home.

Suggested Citation: Mark R. Stoneman, “The ‘Academic Nachwuchs’ Label in Germany,” History of Knowledge, February 27, 2017,