Maximilian Held bio photo

Maximilian Held

researches, teaches and advocates (progressive) tax reform and (deliberative) democracy. Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn Github Stackoverflow


I enjoy teaching tremendously – and for selfish reasons, too: I’ve noticed that I only really understood a subject (or someone else’s understanding of it) if I have taught a class on it.

I like it:

  • Interdisciplinary. Crossing disciplinary borders and venturing applications can deepen understanding, strengthen relevance and forge synthesis – but a rigorous foundation in a discipline always comes first.
  • Interactive. Meaningful visualizations, vibrant virtual and real discussion and the occassional movie segment can make teaching more effective, accessible and fun – but in technology and format, as elsewhere, form follows function. That said, I think some great new technology (such as Github and Google+) isn’t used enough in classrooms, and I expect my students to be(come) reasonably savvy with it.
  • In writing. An idea does not exist independent of its written expression. Intensive reading and writing are hard, ideally deliberate practice for both teacher and student – but for the social sciences, at least, there are only very poor substitutes.

Check out my evaluations on teacher rating sites:

Teaching Experience

Hacking for Social Scientists

I ♥ *.txt

A workshop at BIGSSS and a collaborative book on Gitbook covering great free/open source and text-based technology for (social) scientists.

Website "I ♥ .txt"

Because learning from hackers is learning to win, for social scientists, too.

(Progressive) Tax & (Deliberative) Democracy

Give n’ Take – Progressive Taxation & Deliberative Democracy

An undergraduate reading seminar at the University of Hamburg during the 2014 summer term.

Course Website "Give n' Take"

Taxation and democracy can be thought of as two sides of the liberal-democratic, capitalist social contract: Democracy concerns the making of collectively binding decisions, and taxation is the chief means to implement these agreed-upon plans within the market exchanges of free agents. Taxation thereby delineates the boundary of private property and collective responsibility, but it also shapes the material conditions under which citizens exercise their political autonomy. Taxation and democracy, along with their mutual dependencies and contradictions, in short, are deeply implicated in social scientific questions of rule and power, social integration and inequality.

As institutions, they are also the (only?) site, where progress might happen. This seminar looks at two such reform proposals, equally radical and pragmatic: progressive taxation and deliberative democracy

School & Democracy

Schools of Democracy — Deliberative Democracy & Inclusive Pedagogy

An undergraduate seminar with Verena Kasztantowicz at der Deutschen SchülerAkademie 2014 in Brunswick (2).

Course Website "Emile"

The class introduces students to a defining conflict of both pedagogy and political theory: the contradiction and mutual contigency of equality, difference and autonomy in living together as political and social beings. The comparison of both disciplines reveals striking parrallels that can be applied to current experiments with inclusive pedagogy and deliberative democracy.

Comparative Social Sciences

The Grass, its Green, and the Other Side – Comparative Social Sciences of Democracy, Welfare, Media, Administration, Political Culture and Economy

An (undergraduate) seminar in planning.

Course Website "Greener Grass"

“The most dangerous outlook on the world is the outlook of those people, who have not looked at the world.” – Alexander von Humboldt

Liberal democracy, market economies and their institutional correlates, it turns out, come in different varieties. Even within the OECD-world of rich, developed nation states, democratic rule (Lijphart), welfare states (Esping-Andersen), media landscapes (Hallin & Mancini), administration (Hood), political culture (Inglehart & Welzel) and economic systems (Hall & Soskice) vary widely. Using both empirical data (a posteriori) and deductive reasoning (a priori), positive comparative research in political science and beyond has distilled these differences into patterns, that often track deep ideological divides (e.g. liberal vs. conservative) and roughly map geography (e.g. continental vs. anglo-american). This seminar surveys some of the recently prominent comparative work (“the other side”, figuratively speaking), provides a preliminary understanding of the nature and genesis of the institutions (“the grass”) under investigation, and ultimately subjects these varieties to a selective normative critique (concerning their “greenness”).

German Politics and Culture

German Politics and Culture – Introduction to the Political System of the Federal Republic of Germany

An (undergraduate) seminar held annually as part of Jacobs University Bremen’s Winter School, from 2010-2015.

Course Website GPC

Half area studies, half introductory social science seminar.


LABOR – History of Ideas and Political Economy

An undergraduate seminar with Jonas Marx at Deutschen SchülerAkademie 2011 in Urspring, Germany (4).

Kurswebsite ARBEIT

Man works to live. – Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)

Man lives to work. – John Calvin (1509 – 1564)

Labor is both a central category in modern thought, and in economics. This course tracks critical formulations, describes the elementary economics of who is earning what, for what work, and questions the human cooperating condition. The class offers a schizodisciplinary synthesis of history of ideas, political economy and social anthropology.

Equal Opportunity

**Equal Opportunity”

An undergraduate seminar with Anja Jungermann at Deutsche SchülerAkademie 2010 in Brunswick, Germany (2).

Course Website "Equal Opportunity"

Why do we become so unequal, and why would that be unfair?

The course introduces participants to social scientific theories, applies them to education and migration and offers observations from a german inner city school. We’ll discuss how things might be better, and who, how, can bring about such change – to keep our capitalist and liberal societies prosperous, and to make it more just.


E-Democracy – Opportuntiy for Greater Participatio?

An undergraduate seminar with Matthias Bröcheler at Deutsche SchülerAkademie 2009 in Brunswick, Germany (2).

Course Website "E-Democracy"

Computer science, sociological, mathematical, political and statistic perspectives on the essential question how postindustrial, liberal democracy can organise unity in diversity in the modern world.

Statistik & Probability I

Statistik & Probability I

A TA section for Paul Shirey at the University of California, Irvine in 2007.

Blog Post

Statistics I

Statistics I

A TA section for Adalbert FX Wilhelm at Jacobs University Bremen in 2007.

Research Methods

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

A TA section for Adalbert FX Wilhelm at Jacobs University Bremen in 2007.