Event Series: WZB-Mercator Forum Science and Politics


Democratic societies are increasingly confronted with grand societal challenges such as climate change, energy and mobility transition, demographic change, and digitization. These kinds of problems can be characterized by a high degree of ambiguity, uncertainty and ignorance. Considering the complexity of these challenges, including the heterogeneous problem frames of different stakeholders, politics and society formulate extensive expectations towards science. These generally demand a stronger orientation of scientific knowledge production towards societal needs, in particular by including stakeholders from different social worlds into the processes of knowledge production and research policy agenda-setting.

However, societal demands on science, such as 'responsibility', 'accountability' and 'practical relevance', are clearly at odds with traditional values ​​of scientific 'autonomy', 'independence' or 'freedom', which are increasingly criticized for obstructing the successful dealing with ‘grand challenges’. Against this backdrop, the series of events ‘WZB-Mercator Forum’ sets out to explore the changing relationship between science, politics and society, and in this way also to identify pathways for coping with major societal challenges.

To this end, from 2016-2018, the research group Science Policy organizes in cooperation with Stiftung Mercator an annual dialogue forum with specific thematic focal points. The annual WZB-Mercator fora shall bring together heterogeneous perspectives from science, politics, organized civil society and the private sector. The first forum in 2016 aimed at mapping emergent forms of expertise designed to address challenges across the boundaries of climate-, energy, - mobility and consumer policy; this year’s forum will continue this debate and focus specifically on modes of transdisciplinary research and other forms of transdisciplinary collaboration, such as social innovation labs, or ‘real world laboratories’.

Further information can be found under: www.wzb-mercator-forum.de