Science Policy Studies
The governance of academia has been undergoing significant changes in order to make scientific knowledge production more efficient and socially relevant. Furthermore,science is increasingly expected to engage in the co-production of knowledge to address “grand challenges”. The WZB Research Group “Science Policy Studies” is studying the effects of these trends on scientific institutions, traditions and practices and how these developments may be changing science-society-interrelations. Their implications for academic careers and identities are also examined.
Scientific knowledge is increasingly being produced outside traditional academic and corporate settings: Formats like “living labs” that span different sectors and models that involve broader societal participation are mushrooming. The Research Group investigates these new sociotechnical arrangements, their knowledge structures, and the underlying political premises.
We study examples of knowledge co-production in German energy and mobility transition processes, as well as science policy field itself. Our approach and findings are proving to be valuable in other areas too (e.g., digitalization of work, educational policy, and stakeholder participation in governance processes).
We use a mix of research methods to study these processes, and we have found that the role of social scientists needs to extend beyond observing these institutional formations to actively engaging in settings of heterogeneous knowledge production. In some projects we therefore only observe but also stimulate reflective peer-to-peer discourses on knowledge validity and legitimacy among heterogeneous actors; and in other projects we also intervene in processes of knowledge co-production in order to open-up established understandings for alternative perspectives and visions.