Transformative science

A short summary of what our association Wissenschaf(f)t Zukünfte e.V. is all about

Our societies are facing grand and ever more pressing challenges with respect to both ecological and social aspects. Without drastic changes, our way of organizing our societies and the economy will lead to severe problems in the medium to long term. We thus need a Great Transformation, meaning a fundamental transformation of our societal and economic system towards a state that respects the natural limits of our Planet while guaranteeing a good life for all. How such a society could look like is still completely unclear. There are many places around the world where people experiment with alternative concepts of society or single components thereof. Examples are the concept of circular economy, regional currencies, community gardens, swap- or for-free-shops, and cooperatives, to name just a few.

Understanding the potential of these elements, shaping their interactions and ultimately designing a functional society and economy usually goes beyond the capacities of individual actors. At this point, scientific support turns out to be not only helpful, but maybe even indispensable. These observations have led to the concept of a transformative science, which does not only describe the socio-economic transformations of our societies, but takes an active stance in igniting and catalyzing them. Furthermore, a transformative science also questions whether our current scientific system is ready to take on such an active role, or whether it requires a transformation in itself.

So far, the discourse around transformative science has mainly been conducted in academic and intellectual spheres. With our association Wissenschaf(f)t Zukünfte e.V. (a pun meaning roughly: science creates futures, as well as the future of science) we would like to make this discussion accessible to a broader public, mainly students and early-career scientists, but also anyone else who is working on or interested in the interface of science and society.

An important step for our mission has been the publication of the book Draußen ist es anders. Auf neuen Wegen zu einer Wissenschaft für den Wandel in March 2021. The book describes the most important background information and discussions of the discourse in an easily accessible manner. For the future, we have various ideas about how to spread the word about transformative science even further and about how to build a community of interested people, ranging from podcasts to a workshop series at universities.

As the discourse is currently mainly conducted in the German-speaking countries, the book and most of the content of this website are yet in German (an exception is for instance this interview). Providing more English-language materials is definitely on our list of ideas for future activities. If you are interested in contributing to this, please do get in touch: Thanks!