Claims abound that the very nature of the scientific enterprise may have changed: post-academic, post-normal, triple helical/entrepreneurial, mode-2 (techno)science indicate the various diagnoses. These diagnoses, however, are themselves part of the picture. Addressing the question of whether we face a new era requires an assessment of the various claims. Instead of providing this assessment, the upcoming conference will reflect on the very notion of an epochal change: In which sense (if at all) is it justified to speak of a profound transformation of the research enterprise? Answers to this question will have implications for our historical understanding of science in society.
Science has never been a homogeneous endeavour, it has always been intertwined with societal demands. However, for purposes of internal validation and in order to secure its knowledge science claimed for itself larger or smaller protected spaces. The research group "Science in the Context of Application" takes into account the claim that the boundaries between science and society have become more porous than ever. It seeks to discover how and how successfully such protected spaces are constructed and defended today. And it asks about the knowledge that is produced in these now contested spaces-how it is validated, how it strikes the balance between understanding and control, whether it consists in true and false, certain or probable statements or in the robustness and reliability of systems, etc. The upcoming conference is not supposed to give comprehensive and uniform answers but rather to point out characteristic or non-standard patterns of scientific research and their interaction with society.
The conference will include sessions on