Academia means debate. This was long considered to be a given, with debate being regarded as an essential element of academia, praised in speeches at awards ceremonies and university yearbooks, but without ever being put to the test. Until now, that is. Or at least, the function of debate within academia needs to be reinterpreted because the transformations within the cultures of debate that are currently shaping the political system also affect academia.
Against this backdrop, the research group ‘Cultures of Debate’ focuses on the role of academia in social discourse. What does it mean for a society when expertise and academic analysis no longer automatically hold a position of authority, but find themselves confronted with accusations of elitism similar to those that are currently being directed at journalism and politics? Does the public realm lack important intellectual figures with the power to influence political debates? And what would it take to change this?
Workshop „Wissenschaft in der Debatte“
Public debates today are considered more polarized, heated and irreconcilable than in the past. This is said to be the case for major social issues such as the Covid 19 pandemic, climate change, or the invasion of Ukraine, but also for smaller and more issue-specific debates such as the discussions around the protests in wake of the rebellion against the mandatory hijab law in Iran, the antisemitism scandal at the documenta fifteen, or the German Self-Determination Act (Selbstbestimmungsgesetz).
Academics are involved in many of these discussions. They are consulted as experts or enter the debate themselves. While the role of scientific and medical expertise has been extensively discussed in public debates, especially in the wake of climate research and the Covid 19 pandemic, the role of the humanities, law and social sciences received much less attention. However, these disciplines have distinctive features, for example in how professional consensus is reached.
The workshop will explore what expertise from these disciplines can contribute to political debates and where their limits lie. It will also shed light on the functions and consequences of the participation of academics in these debates: Does the participation of researchers lead to a depolarization and a more objective debate, or does it even contribute to polarization? What reactions should involved academics expect, both from the public and from the academic community?
Workshop „Rezension, Peer-Review, Tweet. Alte Und Neue Qualitätsurteile In Der Wissenschaft“
What merits being published? And what from the flood of publications should be read? Scientific selection processes are essentially based on quality judgements about research. These quality judgements can be anonymous, as in peer review, or public, as in the case of the review. In any case, they are gatekeepers that determine which research contributions get visibility and which do not. And: they are themselves places of scientific dispute: those who disagree scientifically often do not write an article or even a book to express their criticism, but first resort to the instrument of the review.
During their workshop, members of the RG Cultures of Debate want to discuss which norms shape this form of debate and how they change. How do they differ from subject to subject? Who is allowed to criticise whom and how is the criticism formulated? They are planning three parts of the workshop with different guests.