How could experts enable 'common thinking'?
In contemporary knowledge societies collaboration between researchers from different fields becomes increasingly important. As the topics of ‚climate change‘ and ‚covid-19‘ illustrate, individual researchers and / or university departments are less likely to find the right solutions for broad problems due to their narrow perspectives. Or, as James Lovelock has put it in a recent interview: „Universities are getting dangerously like the early church. They have dozens of different sects and they are quite proud if you belong to one of them: if you are a chemist you often don’t know anything about biology and so on. This is why ordinary university science is not really helpful because the department looking at seaweed would not be the same as the one looking at methyliodide. It is a division into bits. It’s time universities were revolutionised and had much more common thinking.“
My project‘s aim is to interrogate into what Lovelock calls ‚common thinking‘ and how this could be achieved. In order to do so I will focus on the process of knowledge mediation and especially on the medium of the expert. Experts are figures who mediate between knowledge production and knowledge application. They are mechanisms which enable knowledge-seekers to find the appropriate knowledge s/he lacks. In Germany a recent and popular example for the medium of the expert is the virologist Christian Drosten. Although being a researcher, he also acts as an expert who mediates the most recent findings in medical research on the virus ‚covid-19‘ in order to provide politicians with the knowledge base they need to make informed decisions. While much research has already been conducted on the importance and influence of experts on the process of knowledge mediation between research institutions and politics, less focus has been put on the process of knowledge mediation through experts within research environments.
Against this background, my project asks how the process of knowledge mediation between different researchers can be improved by applying the figure of the expert. Could experts help to establish structures which are more collaborative and which, thus, increase knowledge equity? In order to answer these questions I want to conduct two workshops which are based on a participatory framework and in which researchers from different departments at the Bauhaus-University Weimar (workshop I) as well as Warwick University (workshop II) will be included. The aim of these workshops is to discover as well as speculate on ways in which human and digital experts could be used to foster cooperation and mediate knowledge within academia. The results of these workshops should lead to the creation of a ‚how to guide‘ concerning the question of how to use experts in order to acquire the knowledge one is looking for. Additionally, I will publish the results as part of an article.
- Name: Gereon Rahnfeld
- Institution: Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
- Kontakt: firstname.lastname@example.org