Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Institute for
Interdisciplinary Research
on Conflict and Violence

Science, the public sphere, and society: A study of knowledge transfer between scientists and protagonists of civil society and the state

As a general rule, the results of scientific analyses find their way into publications aimed at the scientific community. There are, however, scientific projects whose purpose is not confined to the advancement of science, but also includes the development of intervention strategies, and which thus aim to produce results that can be applied to action in society. This research project studies the processes of knowledge transfer by which scientific findings relevant to a specific location are put into practice in selected social areas in conjunction with the practical interaction of locally relevant protagonists of civil society and the political sector. This will be accomplished in the model project "Social area analyses in communal life," which focuses on the transfer of scientific findings into the specific local languages of different areas. Working closely with the abovementioned protagonists, the findings of the model study will be introduced into the public agendas of the cities and communities in such a way as to involve a broad cross-section of residents in initiating self-reflective public debates and activities focusing on the (democratic) quality of life in the community. Ideally, these debates and activities will result in long-term improvements in the social climate. The primary interest of the project is to trace the processes and stages of translating scientific findings into the language of the public sphere at the local level. In particular, the study will focus on the extent to which scientific knowledge can be transferred to broad sectors of society by an organized exchange process of this kind. It will also examine the ways in which public discourse may in turn affect the way certain problems are defined in the scientific sector. Special attention will also be paid to the role of the media and to the medium-term gains that this kind of cooperation may yield for the future activities of the most closely involved protagonists and groups.
01 September 2009 - 31 August 2012
Third-party funding
Project leader
Professor Wilhelm Heitmeyer, PhD
Project participants
Mr. Dierk Borstel, Dipl.-Pol.
Mr. Denis van de Wetering, Dipl.-Soc.
Participating institutions
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence
Sponsored by
Volkswagen Foundation