The City as Knowing Space


We started a new project (contract funding by the City of Vienna, MA7):

The City as Knowing Space (Die Stadt als Wissensraum)

Communicating science and scientific activities to a broader public is one of the key challenges in contemporary times. The ongoing covid-19 crisis shows again how important scientific knowledge is, but how little we as society know about the complexities of science, about its processes, about concepts such as facts, evidence, expertise, or stability of knowledge. The current situation has made it clear that societal and political rituals – including a “simple” expert politics reached their limits. Instead, there is a need to re-evaluate and re-think the relations between society and science, especially scientific engagement with the broader public.
While online science communication formats are prominent in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in situ actors are key players in bringing science and scientific knowledge of all fields to various publics - in particular once we move back to face-to-face events. And it matters where they communicate from, what kinds of facets of science they communicate and which audience they reach. Having an overview of the essential scientific outreach activities to different publics forms the basis for a metropolis such as Vienna to develop and strengthen the engagement of civil society with science and vice versa.
To ground policy making in a detailled understanding of the current initiatives, the municipality of Vienna has commissioned Ulrike Felt to conduct a short research project "The city as knowing Space (Die Stadt als Wissensraum)". In the project, the PhD student Laura Bomm and three Master students of Science and Technology Studies (Rebecca Hofer, Fabian Saxinger, Laura Still) will employ a cartographic approach for analysing the essential actors and institutions in Viennese scientific outreach activities, the places where the engagement happens, formats and addressed audiences and many more details. The aim is to capture the distribution of activities across the urban space. The project is divided into two phases. It begins with an systematic inventory to investigate the different dimensions of scientific outreach activities. Supported by qualitative interviews and a focus group with key actors, the project will then move to a synthesis and strengths/weaknesses analysis. The analysis aims to identify important gaps, point to strength and outline recommendations regarding the areas in which the city of Vienna could expand and adapt more or specific scientific outreach activities.

Team: Ulrike Felt (PI), Laura Bomm, Rebecca Hofer, Fabian Saxinger, Laura Still
Funding: Stadt Wien
Project duration
: 13.04.2021-25.06.2021

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