First discussion event of the WG Sustainability Research

Science is an important lever for overcoming the major societal challenges we face as a global community. In order to enable science to effectively support the necessary transformations, critical reflection of the scientific system is essential. This reflection relates on the one hand to the effectiveness of scientific theory and practice in society, but on the other hand to the process of reflection itself.

The Sustainability Research Working Group at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences has set itself the goal of creating discourse spaces for dealing with critical questions in the context of sustainability research at the BOKU. The first event in the series “Sustainability in Discourse” therefore deals with the measurability of knowledge in general and of knowledge in the context of sustainability in particular.

Measuring knowledge?

About the origins, goals and (un)intended effects of an actually impossible project
The exact measurement of knowledge is basically impossible. It is (re-)produced in different places, develops unpredictably dynamically and has no clear physical output. Nevertheless, there has been a long tradition of making knowledge measurable and of developing indicators since the 1960s, for example to understand how knowledge stocks develop over time, what impact knowledge has, or to create transparency. An important turning point for more recent developments, however, has been New Public Management at universities since the 1990s: since then, indicator systems have increasingly been used to assess performance within increasing academic competition. This has led to heated discussions about the effects that a close focus on individual indicators can have on academic work and career development. In the meantime, among other things, studies on academic work cultures have made it clear that indicators are not simply “innocent” mediators in this competition: they always suggest a certain evaluation of knowledge, hardly do justice to the diversity of research, and often have unintended control effects in research . Paradoxically, however, in this debate questions about what a sensible use of indicators can look like, what goal one actually wants to achieve by measuring knowledge, and what conditions contribute to the production of the most meaningful knowledge possible are neglected.

Dr. Lisa Sigl

Lisa Sigl is a research assistant at the research platform "Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Academic Practice" with a particular interest in the conditions for social responsibility in research.

This event was an eco-event!

ÖkoEvent stands for ...

  • the avoidance of waste and optimal waste management
  • the use of products from the region and from organic production
  • the preference for products from fair trade and animal welfare
  • the careful use of water and energy
  • the environmentally friendly mobility around the event and
  • the communication of the environmentally friendly orientation of the event