Wanted: transformative ideas and practices in science and research

Author(s): Julia M. Wittmayer, DRIFT, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Problems and challenges in science and research seem to abound – starting from claims about ‘alternative’ facts, a publication culture with the need to publish high numbers of articles preferably in selected journals, the focus of universities on research at the expense of education or the need for societal relevance and co-creation.

The latter hints towards the increasing intertwinement between society and science, which some consider as deeply problematic since it infringes on academic freedom, personal integrity and the objectivity of research results; others welcome the developments towards more #citizenscience, transdisciplinary research or #action research as a democratization of knowledge production and the only way to address pressing societal challenges. Still others acknowledge the fact that research should be societally relevant but separate the process of knowledge production from its societal impact.

What is considered problematic in current science and research differs and so do the proposed ways forward. While some developments are high on political agendas such as open science and responsible research and innovation, others are translated into manifestos such as the Slow Science Manifesto or the Transformative Social Innovation Manifesto. More and more of these developments are formalized: Think of the Science shop movement, the DESIS network (design for social innovation and sustainability), the European Citizen Science Association, the Fab Foundation, Action Research Plus or Science in Transition.

At the Social Innovation Community, we think of these developments as social innovations in science and research. Rather than considering social innovation as only being a topic to be researched, we argue that research can also be subject to social innovation – there are countless innovative ways of organising, doing and framing science and research that are worth exploring.

We would like to provide a platform for the diversity of alternative narratives about what science and research can be, by exploring the following questions with you:

  • Why do science and research have to change?
    What is ‘wrong’ with science and research today? And what should science and research become?
  • How is the desired future achieved?
    Which alternative scientific or research practices do you practice/know of? Which experiments are ongoing? Which scientific niches already looming for their window of opportunity?
  • Who are the relevant actors in this change?
    Who are those working towards or opposing the desired future?

Are you interested in joining the conversation? Do you use innovative research practices? Do you have ideas about how science and research should be done? Have you read this one important article or book we should share?

Get in contact with us via wittmayer[@]drift.eur.nl and stay tuned!

Orginally published: 19 Feb 2018, on www.siceurope.eu

The SIC project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693883