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Sessions in: Open Science

A.1 Organising Post-growth STI

Organizers: Ben Robra1, Alejandro Fortuny-Sicart1, Mario Pansera1,2
1: University of Vigo, Spain; 2: Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Post-growth conceptualisations critique the common sense of economic growth as society’s driver for prosperity (Jackson, 2011; Kallis, 2018). Post-growth argues a sustainable society can only be achieved without the pursuit of endless economic growth (Robra and Heikkurinen, 2021). However, the goal of economic growth largely persists in the majority of perspectives on science, technology, and innovation (STI) as well as organisational studies (OS) (Pansera and Fressoli, 2021). This means that organisations are also expected to follow the mantra of ‘creative destruction’ and organise innovations in a way that drives profits, growth as well as a system of competition favouring planned obsolescence, rather than meeting social needs. Hence, orthodox ways of organising STI is failing to consider the infeasibility and unsustainability of endless economic growth. Even the latest IPCC report is now considering post-growth scenarios to enable a sustainable society. It is therefore high time to explore and understand on the one hand how STI can be conceptualised and imagined fitting and supporting post-growth scenarios. On the other hand, it is vital to research how organisations might innovate in a way compatible with post-growth.

Unfortunately, there has been very little research on STI in connection to post-growth and vice versa. Similarly, research on organisation and post-growth has been meagre. Academic work connecting STI, organisation, and post-growth has therefore been even more marginal. In our session ‘Organising Post-growth STI’ we therefore seek to enhance the just emerging debate on how STI can be organised for post-growth and social as well as environmental needs. With this session we hope to enable the building of bridges between scholarship on STI, organisations, and post-growth. We therefore invite contributions (in form of presentation) that bring the three aforementioned scholarships together in novel ways. We seek submission both from theoretical as well as empirical perspectives. Contributions may, for example, address one of the following themes:

  • Bridging organisational, STI, and post-growth studies.
  • Theoretical engagement with alternative framings of organising STI
  • Empirical examples of organisations, grassroots, and other case studies highlighting alternative modes of innovation compatible with post-growth
  • Explorations on how to organise in line with convivial technologies, responsible innovation and technology, and other alternative concepts
  • Organising STI on a societal level in line with post-growth
  • How can organisation contribute to post-growth conceptualisations of STI


Jackson, T., 2011. Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Reprint edition. ed. Routledge, London; Washington, DC.

Kallis, G., 2018. Degrowth. Agenda Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Pansera, M., Fressoli, M., 2021. Innovation without growth: Frameworks for understanding technological change in a post-growth era. Organization 28, 380–404.

Robra, B., Heikkurinen, P., 2021. Degrowth and the Sustainable Development Goals, in: Leal Filho, W., Azul, A.M., Brandli, L., Lange Salvia, A., Wall, T. (Eds.), Decent Work and Economic Growth, Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 253–262.

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A.2 Science, Society and Policy – a contested relation in search of a new modus vivendi

Organizers: Wolfgang Johannes Polt1, Thomas Koenig2, K. Matthias Weber3, Jürgen Janger4
1: Joanneum Research, Austria; 2: IHS, Austria; 3: AIT, Austria; 4: WIFO, Austria

Recent crises have strained and tested the relation between science, society and policy. Scientific advice is in high demand when it comes to addressing pressing challenges societies and policy are facing (e.g. climate change, pandemics, large-scale transformations of energy and mobility systems …). Yet at the same time, mutual trust between science, policy and society seems damaged, with interactions even being dysfunctional at times.

Scientists/scientific communities have had difficulties to find appropriate forms of communication and interaction with policymakers and the public alike. At the same time, as has become apparent in the policy discourses of the recent past, the stance of policy towards science is not well developed either. ‘Instrumentalization’ and a cynical approach to the use/non-use of science and scientists in policy matters have been a re-occurring pattern. Likewise, parts of the public have come to see scientists as (part of) an ‘elite’ whose recommendations are seen as partisan, guided only by self-interest, and hence not credible. As consequence, science has seen a decline in trust and credibility recently.

Some of the blame does fall onto scientists themselves, as they sometimes fail to adhere to the principles of scientific integrity when entering the fray of public debates and policy-oriented discourses. These developments have spurred attempts for better self-regulation and re-enforced commitment of the scientific community to ethical principles and good scientific conduct as well as to attempts to improve ‘science communication’ (e.g. the activities of the ÖAWI or different Guidelines on RRI or on Ethics in policy-related research).

Another reason for the heated discussions and the politicised ‘fight for truth’ is the broader trend towards polarisation in society, which does not leave science unaffected, with scientists being often seen as partisans of ideological camps. Attacks on scientists have increased and are paired with a general distrust of science, leading e.g. to the establishment of a platform to protect and support scientist (e.g. the ‘science care’ initiative of ÖAW)

Up until now, few fora for an exchange between science, public, and policymaking exist in Austria (e.g. Foresight&TA for the Austrian Parliament), and while there are attempts to open new spaces of debate, those are often only temporary (e.g., the ‘climate council’ for parliament). What is needed is a continuous, informed, and public debate where the afore-mentioned difficulties of the subsystems to relate to each other can be discussed in a productive way.

This session at STS Forum Graz provides a crucial opportunity in that regard. Specifically, it will try to (i) explore the state and the sources of these systemic gaps between science, society and policy (ii) discuss remedies and practical examples to address these gaps.

We seek (and will actively invite) contributions from (i) scientists addressing the interfaces of science-society-policy in their research, (ii) proponents of initiatives trying to propose remedies to the above-described problems, (iii) representatives from policy and NGOs working with science/scientists, with a view to add to the current and very necessary debate.

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A.3 Is there a problem with science skepticism? Invitation to reflect a trendy topic

Organizers: Erich Griessler, Johannes Starkbaum
Institut für Höhere Studien, Austria

Recently, the relationship between science and society has returned to public and political attention. This development is connected to current crisis such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. To take Austria as an example, a Eurobarometer survey conducted in 2021 on the attitudes of European citizens towards science and technology stirred some public attention. Policy makers and journalists often interpret the results of the latter study as yet another sign for public skepticism towards science and democracy which would be particularly strong in Austria. Resistance from some part of the public against governmental measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic are also perceived as manifestation of such widespread science skepticism. Whether, and to what extent empirical research can support this interpretation has not been clarified conclusively. This panel will discuss the extent to which science skepticism exists in Austria and elsewhere, its prominence, origins, and, eventually, what can be done to promote a beneficial relationship between science and society. We invite contributions from all research disciplines and other societal areas that shed light on these questions or provoke new ideas and points of view on the topic. This might include academic papers but also other formats such as video clips, other visual material, or performances.

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A.4 What is “Openness” in Open Science? The case of publicly funded research and its implicit expectations

Organizers: Jonathan Edward LoTempio Jr1, Elaheh Mohammadi2, Chase Yakaboski3, Eric Vilain1, Thomas Koenig2
1: University of California Irvine; 2: Institute for Advanced Studies Vienna; 3: Dartmouth Thayer School of Engineering

From the lofty speeches of the Eisenhower administration to the noble goals of the EU’s recent science policy initiatives, the need for government mandated open and accessible science is longstanding and persistent.

Indeed, the rallying call for “Open Science” can be seen as a serious attempt to re-calibrate the relationship between science and society. This is taking place in different places where scientific endeavors meet, and regularly interact, with representatives of other interests and logics. In this session, we want to investigate these relationships in more detail, and specifically by focusing on publicly funded research. In doing so, the session also connects to the session at last year’s conference that dealt with “Evaluating Open Science as an Expression of Science in and for Society” and looked at the “promise” and “pitfalls” of Open Science.

This session aims at highlighting three crucial aspects of openness as they relate to publicly funded research: 1) the openness of the decision-making process, 2) the openness of data resources from funded projects, and 3) the translational (i.e. applied, downstream) successes and limitations built upon these projects.

In the first place we will explore the research funding landscape: where funds flow, and what the mandates for their research products are. How do the decision-making processes work, particularly in respect to openness? How does this impact the state of the research?

In the second place, we will examine the products of publicly funded research – the data, the results, the outcomes, and how they inform and underpin developments in both hypothesis-driven research and artificial intelligence and machine learning models.

In the third place, we will look at translation of these findings to medicine and artificial intelligence applications. Translation, or the benefit which society and its citizens receive from research is largely impacted by our ability to bring research from the ivory tower into the town square. When it gets there, is it any good at the thing it claims to be?

One theme in the “Open Science” movement appears to be that the ambiguity in the notion of openness has led to different expectations, and a fragmentation of projects under the label of “Open Science”. As an analytical frame for this session, we suggest exploring ambiguity of the underlying term of “openness”, as openness itself is a necessarily ambiguous term and can mean quite different things. “Frankness” means being open about something that has actually been achieved. “Transparency” means that decision-making processes are laid open. “Accessibility” means that results, but also methods are free for use. Each of these can be used to help make sense of aspects of openness in Open Science, and we encourage abstract submitters for this session to consider them in their proposals.

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