Engaged Science

To what extent should scientists engage in public debates? What are the principles of "good" engaged science and what are their limits?

Photo: Michael Schiffer

The question of the extent to which scientists should get involved in public debates is answered in very different ways. In countries such as Great Britain, for example, interactions with the public represent an evaluation criterion for excellent science. And in Germany, too, individual funding institutions consider dialogical communication formats between science and the public as a criterion. Elsewhere, the motto "we don't want to get political" applies, and committed public interventions by scientists are not considered compatible with the ideal of "disinterest" (R. Merton). Obviously, there is a tension between the public mandate to science to produce "objective" and "neutral" findings on the one hand, and the public articulation of the positions of scientific actors on the other - even if they are based on scientific findings.

This tension has recently become increasingly apparent in discussions about the "impact" of science, about effective science communication, about scientific policy and economic advice, about constructions of scientific objectivity, but also about expert cultures and possible forms of pluralistic science. The Working Group for Engaged Science enters this field of tension. It focuses on (individual and institutional) scientific practices, role concepts, conflicts and dilemmas, and aims at an interdisciplinary discourse on the question: What are the principles of "good" engaged science and where are its limits?

Podcast „wissen – handeln?“

Do scientists have to get involved in public debates or political decision-making processes beyond academic discourse? If so, why is this the case and in what form can they get involved in society?

In their podcast series "wissen - handeln?", the members of Die Junge Akademie's Research Group "Engaged Science" invite scientists of high visibility to talk about their motivation and successes, but also about the challenges, dangers and limits of "engaged science".

See all episodes

Wissenschaft – Engagement – Autorität

The project "Science – Commitment – Authority" has emerged from the research group Engaged Science. The project will examine how universities and scientists get involved and how this relates to (their) research results. In addition, the project will analyse how society reacts to this commitment and to what extent this commitment has authority.

The project explores this interest by looking at the public engagement of scientists on Twitter as well as the reactions to it. The aim of the project is a publication in the form of a website with interactive graphics.

Visit the project page


participating Members

participating Alumnae / Alumni

    • Anna Lisa Ahlers

      Chi­na Stud­ies /​ Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ences
      Max-Planck-In­sti­tut für Wis­senschafts­geschichte (MPI­WG)
      +49 30 22667-343
      Porträt von Anna Lisa Ahlers. Sie lächelt in die Kamera und hat dunkles mittellanges Haar.