Science as an organised and systematic form of knowledge production is one of the main pillars of our culture. From the Scientific Revolution up to the current formation of the knowledge society, it is moreover continuously promoting social modernisation. Since the beginning, this process is being accompanied by applause and disapproval. On the one hand, science is cherished as shaping the worldview, as a model for rationality and progress and for increasing prosperity. On the other hand, it is criticised as a tool of suppression, as a cause of social impairment and economic inequality as well as subjugation and exploitation of nature.
Both perspectives agree that science is one of the most important influences on the present world and that it affects human life in various ways. The Master’s programme “History, Economics and Philosophy of Science (HEPS)” at Bielefeld University offers studies of science that aim to bring out essential characteristics of science. The objective is to analyse how science produces knowledge, what its institutional framework and economic structure are, and how it is part of a changing social context in past and present.
This analysis requires linking three disciplinary perspectives. Economics of science deals with the economic conditions and the interaction between economy and science. Philosophy of science focusses on the epistemic aspects of justifying knowledge claims and cognitive rationality and puts special emphasis on the ethical aspect of responsibility. History of science traces the historical development of science in its continuities and ruptures and analyses their significance for economy and society. These three disciplinary approaches complement each other and together contribute to a better understanding of science.
The programme has an interdisciplinary design, is internationally oriented and serves the following objectives: Students
The programme introduces students to scientific work. In addition to the ability to conduct research by applying pertinent methods, the courses also enable students to identify potentials for innovation, sets of problems and strategies of problem-solving at the interface of science and society. Independent judgement, a deliberate use of concepts and the ability of conveying knowledge confidently in writing and presentation are some of the key qualifications that are elaborated in this programme for a subsequent professional career.