2021-05Diskussionspapier DOI: 10.18452/23076
How activist should scientists be?
On a Friday evening in late September 2019, 21 PhD students from every continent but Antarctica gathered in a dimly lit room on the second floor of Sophienstraße 22a in Berlin. This was the climax of a week-long summer school on ‘Transformative Human-Environment Research & Participatory Methods’ organised by the IRI THESys at Humboldt University. The preceding week’s lectures, discussions, and practicums on the democratization of knowledge production were fresh in everyone’s minds. Should scientists strive to be objective? Is it possible (not) to align our values with our scientific practice? What counts as ‘science’? The summer school students and faculty, as well as a handful of members of the public, took their seats among a few rows of chairs. At the front of the room were five chairs arranged in a semicircle facing the audience. The moderator, Krystin Unverzagt, welcomed the audience and explained how the event would proceed. Unlike a typical panel, this would be a ‘fishbowl’ discussion; the moderator would take the central chair, and each time an audience member wanted to add to the discussion, they would walk to the front, take a seat, and make their point. They were then free to stay for a few responses or return to the audience. Regardless of the direction of the conversation, one seat in the front would remain open, so there was always the opportunity for someone new to join. The following is a reconstruction of the ensuing conversation, collaboratively assembled by the participants the following day. The editors—themselves participants of the event—have added headings and made slight changes to wording for stylistic consistency
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