Poster Presentation at the ASB Sustainability Workshop
As early as 1945 Vannevar Bush stated: "There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. The investigator is staggered by the findings and the conclusions of thousands of other workers - conclusions that he cannot find time to grasp, much less to remember, as they appear." While there are firm reasons to believe that the mountain of research has grown exponentially since then (e.g., Tanner, 2001) there are no reasons to believe that neither the investigators nor the citizens of late capitalist society are able to "grasp" or "remember" the ever expanding mountain of research - let alone utilize it. And exactly the utilization of knowledge is the main focus of our research project. There is no shortage of scholars advocating that knowledge is the distinctive feature and driver of post-modern society (e.g., Drucker, 1989). But knowledge, regardless of how profound or specialized, will not and cannot in itself create societal value. For that to happen, the knowledge produced must be communicated and thus be made available to society in one way or the other. In this sense there are three prerequisites necessary for the knowledge society to thrive: being able to produce ever more specialized knowledge, being able to communicate this specialized knowledge,and doing so in a way that this knowledge may be utilized The predominant challenge of the knowledge society, then, is how to transform ever more specialized knowledge into interactions in order for that knowledge to gain value (outside of itself) (Kastberg, 2007). And exactly that metamorphose constitutes the raison d'être of "participatory science and science governance" and, thus, this project. Generally speaking, it takes the perspective of "Science and Society" (Bauer et al. 2007). This means that there is no underlying ideology of confrontation (or of two cultures, Snow, 1959) but one of convergence; and the vehicle is thus not "informing the public of X, Y or Z", but involvement, engagement, ownership and the governance supporting it (Bora/Hausendorf, 2006). Within this framework the project follows two main avenues of research: I. exploring the phenomenon (culturally, historically, organizationally and societally) of science democratization, science mediation, and science communication in relation the conditions of the knowledge society II. analyzing and evaluating instances of said phenomenon within the forum of the science theatre (Kastberg/Krejberg, 2009 & Chemi/ Kastberg/Krejberg, 2009). Science theatre was chosen as the empirical object of study for a number of reasons, primarily pertaining to its intrinsic didactic qualities (Frazzetto, 2002), its inherent multimodality (Kress/van Leuwen, 2002) and the fact that the theatre format has always - at least since 400 B.C. - been an institutionalized forum of choice when involvement, engagement, and ownership is called for. And, after all, what is more sustainable than a civil society made up of knowing citizens willing to participate in the ongoing process of societal enlightenment?