The Importance of Science Communication Research and of Science Studies for the Region – Opening of the RRC in Dortmund


How can science communication be practiced under post-truth conditions? And what role do the humanities and social sciences play in this context? The Rhine Ruhr Center for Science Communication Research (RRC) is devoted to answering these and other pressing questions. The center is funded by a generous grant from the Volkswagen Foundation and headed by Julika Griem of the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), David Kaldewey of the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft (FIW) at the University of Bonn, Holger Wormer of the TU Dortmund, Oliver Ruf of the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhine-Sieg as well as Volker Stollorz of the Science Media Center in Cologne and Franco Zotta of the German Science Journalists’ Association.

The RRC is devoted to science communication with a special focus on the humanities and social sciences. As such, it addresses highly important questions about how insights from the reflexive social and cultural research on science might be communicated. Natural scientists usually attract attention via stimulating images of ground-breaking discoveries. Not so the reflexive sciences on science. Thus, there are elementary questions that need to be answered about the communicability of insights from social and cultural research on science. Next to this, RRC aims to, over the course of its initial five-year funding, bring its findings closer to practicing journalists as well as to students in interdisciplinary workshops and conferences. On June 2, 2022, the RRC officially opened with a celebratory inauguration at the Erich-Brost-Institute at TU Dortmund. Together with our director Stefan Böschen I ventured to Dortmund to attend the event, at which we met with many familiar faces from science studies and journalism.


Phillip H. Roth

Phillip is postdoc and the events coordinator at c:o/re. Among other topics, his research is dedicated to questions of identity work in biomedical disciplines, to the meaning of medicine and the role of patient advocacy on the internet as well as to social and cultural conditions of scientific modeling. In a current project, he is trying to develop a sociology of pandemics for the digital age that draws on communication theories of virality and contagion.

After welcoming words by Holger Wormer, the inauguration consisted of a brief overview of the RRC’s three main research projects, given by Julika Griem, as well as three panel discussions, each moderated by one of the RRC’s heads. The panels were devoted to core problem areas of the RRC, making up most the of the formal part of the evening. In the first, moderated by Oliver Ruf, Julia Schubert (University of Speyer) discussed with local students about “Science Communication in Times of Multiple Facts”. One of the core take-aways of this insightful discussion was that the students desired the humanities and social sciences to be more present in public science communication. They stressed particularly that they promised themselves that these fields would be better equipped than natural or engineering sciences to deal with the problems of post-truth in current debates. The second panel, moderated by David Kaldewey, consisted of a dialogue between science journalist Birgit Herden (Die Welt) and the sociologist of science and technology Cornelius Schubert (TU Dortmund) about “Images and Imaginations of Science”. They reflected on how journalism and sociology address different audiences. Variety of audiences necessarily also leads to conflicts between the trajectories of the two professions. While journalism needs to “close” scientific debates to make the topic appealing to its readership, [1]Peter Conrad (1999). Use of Expertise: Sources, Quotes, and Voice in the Reporting of Genetic News. Public Understanding of Science 8 (4): 285–302. a key ambition of science studies, sociology of science or STS is to “open up” the infamous black box of science.[2]Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker (1984). The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might benefit each other. In Social Studies … Continue reading This is aligned with our effort to “unbox science” here at c:o/re. This ultimately also thwarts any settlement on “the facts”, making science a volatile and (politically) malleable business in sociologists’ eyes, something that is particularly critical under post-truth conditions. However, Schubert also recalls the common heritage of journalism and sociology in the reportages that founded the early-twentieth century Chicago School,[3] offering hope that each in their own way can contribute to successfully communicating the complexities of scientific research and its findings to the public. In a third session, panellists Eva Weber-Guskar (University of Bochum) and Samir Sellami asked about “A Quality Circle for the Humanities and Social Sciences?” Both are initiators of online platforms – PhilPublica and Soziopolis, respectively – that are devoted to bringing scholarly content to a wide readership. Together with the journalist Volker Stollorz, who moderated the panel, they reminisced whether and how these open formats might provide criteria for the successful communication of scientific content in the digital world. During the informal part of the event – drinks and snacks in the courtyard of the Erich-Brost-Institue while the sun was shining, and the temperatures were warm – we were able to catch up with friends and colleagues after an almost two-year hiatus from in-person events.

Holger Wormer speaking to guests at the opening of the RRC (photo credits: RRC/Andreas Siess)

A crucial feature of the RRC is that it considers science communication not only from a communication research perspective, but also from a cultural studies (KWI Essen) as well science studies & STS perspective (FIW Bonn). For this reason, we at c:o/re look forward to partnering with the RRC on questions at the intersection of science studies and science communication research. We hope that this partnership will help to unravel what science communication entails in the current mediascape and, also, what we can learn from it practically for communication at c:o/re and elsewhere. Given the grand challenges we face today,[4]David Kaldewey (2018). The Grand Challenges Discourse: Transforming Identiy Wlrk in Science and Science Policy. In Minerva 56: 161-182. such as climate change, the digitalization of research practices, energy and mobility transformations, resource scarcity, war and poverty, we also wish that it will strengthen the role of science studies scholarship in the Aachen-Rhine-Ruhr region and in Germany more generally, providing a clearer picture of the role that science can play in facing these challenges.

A first joint conference between the RRC and c:o/re is already in the making and is set to take place in 2023. We will keep you posted as things develop and also about further collaborations between the partners at the RRC and c:o/re. Please also see our events section for infos on further upcoming workshops, lectures and conferences. For now, all that remains is for us to wish our friends at the RRC all the best for their projects. We look forward to the friendly and frequent exchanges about science studies and communication research – cheers!

Proposed citation: Phillip Roth. 2022. The Importance of Science Communication Research and of Science Studies for the Region – Opening of the RRC in Dortmund.


1Peter Conrad (1999). Use of Expertise: Sources, Quotes, and Voice in the Reporting of Genetic News. Public Understanding of Science 8 (4): 285–302.
2Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker (1984). The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might benefit each other. In Social Studies of Science 14 (3): 399-441. You can read the paper here.
4David Kaldewey (2018). The Grand Challenges Discourse: Transforming Identiy Wlrk in Science and Science Policy. In Minerva 56: 161-182.

Cultures of research in dialogue

We would like to thank Wissenschaft im Dialogue for the inspiring Hackathon on science communication! We, the c:o/re team, learned a lot from the intense two-day dialogue we had on science, science communication, designing interactivity and many other related topics.

c:o/re team & Wissenschaft im Dialog

The Notebook pt. 2: “I liked the idea of carrying my research in just one bag”

Academic writing is a basic practice that does not start in writing up one’s research results for publishing. Right from the start of an idea for a research project, researchers are noting down things: thoughts, questions, observations, ideas. Let’s have a look at the often neglected but very central object that inhabits these very first materializations of research ideas: the notebook. How does the notebook of a researcher look like? How do practices of note taking change in the digital age? I asked some of the fellows at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Cultures of Research (c:o/re) about their habits of note taking.


Markus Pantsar

Markus Pantsar is a philosopher of mathematics and artificial intelligence at the University of Helsinki, Finland. As a senior grant researcher, he worked on the epistemology of mathematics and will continue to do so with a focus on arithmetic and geometrical cognition with a funding by the Finnish Cultural Foundation that starts in autumn 2022. In the meantime, Markus tackles questions of complexity, human cognition and intelligence with regard to the development of artificial intelligence, simulation and machine learning during his fellowship at c:o/re.

Stefanie Haupt: Markus, what is the most recent thing that you noted down in your notebook?

Markus Pantsar: [thinks for a short moment and checks his notebook] It was something I wrote down from last week’s workshop. I usually take notes only sparingly. They are mostly personal reminders of things that inspire me when listening to talks – for example names or books and papers.

Stefanie: Your notes are handwritten but on a digital devise, how does that work for you?

view of a page in Markus Pantsar's digital notebook
A page from Markus’ digital notebook

Markus: It works fine. I can either convert the pages to images or, and this is what I use mostly, the built-in AI transforms my handwriting to searchable type-written text. It just needs some editing afterwards. The software does not recognize, for example, names so easily. But otherwise, it works well for me.

Stefanie: And what happens after you convert the notes?

Markus: The software turns them into pdf-documents that I keep in different folders, for example, for conferences I attended. I also have a folder for my fellowship here in Aachen. Typically, I remember better where I heard interesting thoughts than when I heard them. Therefore, my folders follow a structure based on places rather than on pure chronology. I save everything in the cloud because I can see myself pouring coffee over my stuff [smiles].

Stefanie: I am looking at your desk right now and I see hardly any paper. When did you switch to the digital? Was it a conscious decision?

Markus: Yes, definitely. For me this is a very recent development. I bought this notebook in preparation for my fellowship in Aachen. I wanted something like this for a long time: a devise to write and to read digital papers and books on. Previously, I used to print articles and write into paper notebooks and they kept piling up in the bookshelf. But as a researcher you often have to move and switch places. I liked the idea of carrying my research in just one bag.

Markus Pantsar sitting at his desk reading in his notebook
Markus at his desk in Aachen

Stefanie: This is close to the ideal of the paperless office, which is also very ecological. Do you also see disadvantages compared to the analogue notebook?

Markus: Well, regarding the ecological factor you need to consider the production of such an electronic devise. Disadvantages – there aren’t many: The notebook won’t transform special symbols that the software does not recognize. For example, I use a kind of flash-symbol to mark points of disagreement with the arguments of others. Also, the notebook does not display colours, so whenever I read a paper and there is a coloured image, for example a graphic depiction of different activation areas in the brain, I am missing some of the information there. One disadvantage is also that for such a simple machine, it is still very expensive. It does not have internet access, aside from the cloud function for the files – but this is something I appreciate, actually: I can sit on the couch reading and not get distracted.

Stefanie: Did switching to digital change your practice of note taking somehow?

Markus: Now that we are talking about it, I would say: Yes, it did! Unlike with analogue notes, I have to go through the digital notes again to edit them after converting the text. This is necessary to find names and other keywords via the search function later. It has already become a kind of routine for me. And it also often prompts me to write down more about what I heard and inspires me to think deeper about it. I would say that now I am working more with my notes than before. But there is also a qualitative difference, in that my notes end up being more polished and easier to apply. I don’t think I will switch back to the analogue.

Stefanie: Thank you very much, Markus, for a short glimpse into your notebook!

Dialogue on robotics an AI at c:o/re

c:o/re started during a new wave of academic interest for the philosophy of AI. Many seminars, lectures and workshops that took place at c:o/re during its first year, hence, pursued this intellectual current, often with a focus on human-robot interaction and rethinking the object of anthropological study in light of newly emerging reflections in this area. Stemming from these discussions we would like to direct our readers to Joffrey Becker‘s (2022) recent paper and Dawid Kapsprowicz‘ (2022) response to it.

Taking a social anthropology perspective, Becker (2022) aims “to identify the fields to be studied in order to address the effects that so-called intelligent machines can have for societies.” He concludes “that it is not possible to fully grasp the social transformations at work without considering at least three categories of problems.” The categories he identifies have to do with (1) the status and reliance of machines on life processes, (2) human interactions with machines and (3) the reconfiguration of human organizations and activities that machines produce.

Kasprowicz’ (2022) answer is favourable, with some observations. He remarks that AI is not the only attribute of robots and that, in understanding robots, matters such as life-likeness, robustness, anthropomorphism and resilience in hostile environments must also be closely considered. Kasprowicz concludes by adding to Becker’s proposal that “No matter how ‘smart’ the machine will act, the contingency of communication between two bodies and the need for maintaining relations will continue.”


Becker, Joffrey. 2022. “The Three Problems of Robots and AI.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 11 (5): 44-49.

Kasprowicz, Dawid. 2022. “Maintaining Relations and Re-Engineering the Social: A Reply to Becker’s ‘The Three Problems of Robotics and AI’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 11 (8): 50-56.

The Notebook pt. 1: Taking Notes – “it’s a learned skill”

Producing, sharing, questioning, and contesting knowledge – in academia this is done mostly by writing and publishing papers. To make themselves heard in the academic world and to take part in scholarly debates, researchers have to write down their thoughts, ideas and suggestions to research problems and questions. Writing is an essential research practice. But rather than focussing on the finished product, the well composed text, edited, proof-read multiple times, peer reviewed, and published in a (most desirably high-impact) journal, let’s take a few steps back to the very beginning of a research project. What precedes even the “shitty first draft” of a written piece? I would like to look at the threshold where thoughts “materialize” and are written down for the first time. Let’s do this by shedding light on a particular object that is often overlooked when it comes to academic writing: the notebook. I interviewed some of the fellows at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Cultures of Research (c:o/re) about their note taking.


Catharina Landström

Catharina is an Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. Prior to that, she was as senior researcher at the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, England. Right from the start of her professional carrier, she has conducted a lot of field work, for example on water challenges such as flooding, draughts and water quality. At c:o/re she explores how environmental scientists present and convey results from- and tools of computer simulation modelling for decision making processes

Stefanie Haupt: Catharina, when I saw you with your notebook during the c:o/re Lunch Talks it really fascinated me how neatly you were taking notes. Your notebook has lined pages in an A4 format. Do you prefer a certain type of notebook?

Frontview of Catharina Landström's notebook
Catharina’s c:o/re notebook

Catharina Landström: I do take notes on any sort paper I can get hold of! Normally, I just use what I can find: binders that came as a kind of gift at conferences etc., or I use whatever I can find in the storage of the university. I prefer writing on lined paper. Squared paper does not really work for me. And blank paper – I get paralyzed when the page is empty! Papers with a column on the left side are quite nice for making comments. I like taking notes in wire bound notebooks. Then I can easily take out the page because, depending on the topics I am working on, I collect the pages on different piles. I also have different notebooks for different topics and tasks, for example for the different PhD projects that I supervise. The notebook you saw in the Lunch Talk is my c:o/re notebook.

An empty page of Catharina Landström's notebook

Stefanie: When did you start taking notes and in which situations do you use your notebook? You did a lot of field work. Did you also bring a notebook when you were out in the field?

Catharina: Right from the beginning of my studies I took notes. But the way I do changed much over the time: I remember in my PhD project while working in the field, I took so many notes, I sometimes could not make sense out of them afterwards. The field is a difficult place for taking notes. It is a really stressful work. Everything that happens “passes” through you. In the field you are the tool. And notes are more than notes. So, I tried to capture everything. Today, I take less notes but they are more precise. It is really a learned skill.

Stefanie: So, what is it that you note down?

Catharina: Thoughts. Thoughts of others, my own thoughts while listening to a talk for example. My notes help me to remember better. For example, I note down what I discuss with my PhD students. I also write down ideas for project proposals. By going through them, my notes help me to further develop ideas.

Stefanie: Did you develop a kind of private system? Like a colour code? And how do you further process your notes?

Catharina: A colour code would require having a fixed set of colour pens with me all the time – so, no. But when I listen to talks and note down what I hear, I distinguish the thoughts of others from my own by putting mine in squared brackets. Questions that arise come in round brackets. The notes I take are only for myself. I switch to the digital when I want to further develop ideas for myself or when I want to share them with somebody else.

Catharina Landström sitting at a table writing in her notebook
Catharina taking notes in the c:o/re lecture hall

Stefanie: Do you keep your notebooks?

Catharina: I keep them for a while. Everything is time limited, you know. Then comes the time when you can either store your notebooks in a box in the attic or throw them away. Once I suggested to a friend to throw away the notes she took during an interview project in the 90s. She was really irritated by this suggestion.

Stefanie: You told me that you were wondering at some point if you might also switch to the digital for note-taking, too.

Catharina: Oh, I did. Everybody brings their (laptop)notebook to academic discussions today. I tried that for a while, too. But I noticed that I never go back to look at digital notes again [Catharina laughs]. I don’t know what it is, maybe it is the paper, the feel, the way you can browse through the pages. It has a different quality somehow.

Stefanie: Thank you, Catharina, for your time!

Introduction to the concepts of Open Science, Responsible Research and Innovation and Anticipatory Governance

Workshop on Responsible Research and Innovation, Anticipatory Governance


Responsible Research and lnnovation (RRI) has become increasingly important since it was introduced as a cross cutting issue under the European Union (EU) Framework Programme for Research and Innovation “Horizon Europe” (2014-2020). Subsequently, it became an operational objective of the strategic plan for “Horizon Europe (2021-2027)”, the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. ln EU member states, there are also various initiatives supporting RRI, notably under schemes of national research councils (the United Kingdom, Norway, and the Netherlands, among others). The concept also resonated outside the EU, notably in the United States, and in China it became part of the national five-year plan for Science, Technology and Innovation.

However, there are a variety of approaches as for how it should be implemented. Scholars provide a variety of perspectives and assessments of what RRI need to address. However, all scholars generally share the notion that RRI requires a form of governance that will direct or re-direct innovation towards socially desirable outcomes. This initial definition that Von Schomberg provided in 2011 captures the commonalities of the field:

Responsible Research and Innovation is a transparent, interactive process by which societal actors and innovators become mutually responsive to each other with a view to the (ethical) acceptability, sustainability and societal desirability of the innovation process and its marketable products (in order to allow a proper embedding of scientific and technological advances in our society).

This definition was not proposed as an end-result but as a starting point for an ever-growing field of research and innovation actions. The definition was put forward, first, to highlight that dominant public policies only negatively select science and technology-related options, notably by the management of their risks. According to the still dominant ideology, all innovation will contribute to common prosperity regardless of its nature. The notion of responsible research and innovation makes a radical break with such an ideology. Furthermore, this ideology tells us that innovations cannot be managed or be given a particular direction. Also on this front, the notion of responsible innovation breaks with this ideology and puts the power for a socially desirable change through innovations into the hands of stakeholders and engaged citizens. However, these stakeholders have to become, or be incentivized or even enforced to become, mutually responsive to each other in terms of social commitments to such change.


René von Schomberg

René is Guest Professor at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. He was a European Union Fellow and Guest-Professor at George Mason University, USA, from 2007 to 2008 and has been with the European Commission from 1998 to January 2022. In his research project as a senior fellow at c:o/re, he focusses on the values of “openness” and “responsibility” in science policy.


Andoni Ibarra

Andoni is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). He is also the Principal Investigator of PRAXIS Research Group, the founder of the Miguel Sánchez-Mazas Chair. As a senior researcher at c:o/re, he is developing an anticipatory governance framework aimed at assessing and guiding the implementation of responsible anticipatory practices in research and innovation in the field of nanotechnologies.

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) imposes normative requirements on research and innovation processes resembling three successive steps of an incremental higher ambition with distinct features. The distinct features reflect the normative requirements of firstly, credible research (through among others ‘codes of conduct’ and standards for scientific integrity), secondly responsive research (by opening up science to societal demands), and finally responsible research (which includes the anticipation on socially desirable outcomes) for the research dimension. Equally distinct features reflect the requirements of credible innovation, responsive innovation, and responsible innovation (Von Schomberg, 2019).

For each of these steps, a framework for good practice is needed. The contributions to the workshopOpen Scholarship, Responsible Innovation and Anticipatory Governance” that took place on June 29-30, 2022, at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Cultures of Research, can be seen as attempts to contribute to these good practices for a single step or for multiple steps. First, the creation of knowledge in science underlies distinct universalizable codes for ‘good’ research conduct, enabling a global research practice that is virtually independent of cultural and national constraints. As the previous director of the US National Science Foundation Subra Suresh put it: ‘Good science anywhere is good for science everywhere’. The issue of ‘what is good science?’ can be seen as purely internal matter of the scientific community. Indeed, it has always been scholarly societies or academies of science who have tackled this issue of credible research, which arguably also constitutes the most basic requirement of RRI.

However, we should not forget these scholarly societies and other scientific institutions only engaged with the internal issue of good scientific conduct and scientific integrity because of external societal pressure and clear ethical challenges. That this is an issue which is far from settled.

Yet, Responsible Research and Innovation with within its dimension of ‘open scholarship’ has put additional pressure on revising or extending the normative requirements of this first step for RRI governance, namely credible research and thereby calling for revision of existing codes of conduct for good science particular with a view on achieving credible, reproduceable and re-usable data, all necessary to enhance science as such.

Open research and scholarship can be defined as ‘sharing knowledge and data as early as possible with all relevant knowledge actors‘ (Von Schomberg, 2019). Open research and scholarship (in  the research policy-making context often simply referred to as ‘open science’) is operationalised by researchers who use, re-use and produce open research outputs such publications, software and data and who engage in open collaboration with other scientists, as well as seek, whenever appropriate for the subject matter of study, open collaboration with knowledge actors external to science such as industrial organisations, civil society organisations or public authorities.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have witnessed a change in the modus operandi of doing science as public authorities started to incentivize open science globally. This made it possible to deliver swiftly on vaccines. Without open science, the market introduction of these vaccines would have taken, under the usual circumstances of competitive and too closed forms of science, minimally a decade.

The research value ‘openness’ can be seen as a constitutional value for the scientific community as such. Open scientific discourse, the exchange of ideas and competing approaches is fundamental for the progress of modern science. ‘Openness’ is presupposed by the Mertonian norm ‘Communism’ (common ownership of scientific discoveries) and thus part of the ethos of science (Merton, 1942). However, the meaning of ‘openness’ is manifold and is dependent on the scientific discipline or the scientific mission in which it is embedded. With the emergence of Open Science, equally ethical issues concerning the limits to ‘openness’ in particular contexts become evident, such as the employment of sensitive data in security or biomedical fields.

Open research and scholarship manifest itself notably in the case of interdisciplinary scientific cooperation with a view on developing a socially desirable output as the case of Covid-19 demonstrated. Open research and scholarship have been incentivized with a view of making science more efficient (better sharing of resources), more reliable (better verification of research data) and making it more productive with a view on a socially desirable output (in this case a vaccine). Research virtues or norms have been phrased historically as a subset of general human virtues. From the Mertonian CUDOS norms (Merton,1942) to the codified principles of research integrity incorporated in the All European Academies’ European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, norms or principles have been described as a fundament of a ‘good’ research practice. The ‘responsibility’ of the scientific community is then often described as an overarching duty to promote, manage, and monitor a research culture that is based on the scientific integrity of its members (ALLEA, 2017). Furthermore, research integrity does include a particular form of responsibility, namely the accountability for the whole internal process of science from idea to publication. The ‘implementation’ of scientific integrity is managed by self-regulation of the scientific community.

Roundtable Discussion in the Workshop

Traditionally the scientific community has stopped short of taking any form of responsibility for consequences and side-consequences of the societal use of scientific insights and technologies and its unpredictable societal impacts. The responsibility for those consequences has been ‘allocated’ to the political system. This division of responsibilities has become subject of intense debate, virtually since the whole period after Word War II. Intense debate on the risks of emerging technologies have led to the adoption of national laws and European directives on the risks, the quality and efficacy of products arising from the use of new technologies. Western societies have gained the capacity to indirectly govern emerging technologies, notably through its risk management and to outlaw specific undesirable outcomes, such as cloning human beings. Our institutions have thus governance structures in place to manage the risks of technologies such as nuclear technology, genetic or nanoengineering. However, we do not have established capacities to anticipate or direct science and innovation towards socially desirable outcomes such as vaccines or outcomes that underpin or make the transition towards sustainability possible. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has emerged as response to this deficit in the governance of science and technology. RRI requires a form of governance that will either direct science towards socially desirable outcomes or manage innovation processes in such a way that those socially desirable outcomes are more likely to emerge (Von Schomberg 2019).

It is therefore desirable to develop further a governance framework which institutionalizes the organization of co-responsibility across the spheres of science, policy and society on a subject matter which require open science missions such as Covid-19. The institutionalization of co-responsibility requires a governance which goes beyond self-regulating mechanisms within science itself. There is a ‘responsibility’ for ‘organizing co-responsibility,’ shared by scientific, policy and societal actors. The institutionalization of this responsibility will have consequences for the way science is funded and organized, for example through policy and financial incentives to embark on socially relevant open research missions. For example, by means of co-creation and co-design of research agendas with scientific, policy and societal actors which are currently foreseen in the “Horizon Europe (2021-2027)” program. An important aspect is the governance of the research missions themselves. When open research missions are conducted to achieve a socially desirable objective, its governance and organization will significantly have to differ from research missions with a primary technological objective (for example: ‘putting a man on the moon’). In fact, the ultimate step to complete RRI with anticipatory governance is inherent for this type of mission-oriented research.

The governance of research of innovation based on a Framework of RRI thus requires credible research, open and responsive research and responsible research that anticipates socially desirable outcomes. This anticipation also presupposes that such research and innovation is inevitably value-driven as those values mark the desirability or undesirability of research and innovation outcomes.

The desirability of open scholarship is often motivated by the wish to achieve better scientific practices. However, RRI is more ambitious and represents an effort to drive research and innovation towards socially desirable outcomes. We, therefore, must address the question how we can define these outcomes, for example by the way we anticipate them. The employment of foresight is one of the few tools we have at our disposal, and possibly the most robust one. Broadly speaking, anticipation can be defined as an activity characterized by the use of the future (or futures) to guide and orient decision making in the present. Anticipation must therefore be distinguished from forecasting.

The question of socio-technical futures is critical in this context because the ways in which scientific and technological practices are articulated derive from the anticipatory capacity, that is to say, from the capacity to promote certain research and innovation trajectories in the present on the basis of visions and expectations regarding future promises. Therefore, anticipatory responsibility goes beyond the traditional tendency to approach responsibility as a mere regulatory exercise; an exercise in which the socio-economic justification of scientific or technological innovations is not problematized, on the basis of future promises linked to them. This activity of futures building opens the door to publics. Anticipatory governance is an instrument for the engagement of publics in the exercise of opening science and innovation that should contribute to a more robust articulation of the relations between societal actors.

Anticipatory innovation processes are understood as open and deliberative processes, in which the values, motivations and expected benefits of innovations appear to be subject to public scrutiny. As such, the understanding of those anticipatory innovation processes emphasizes the need to critically and openly analyze the ways in which socio-economic and environmental challenges and their potential solutions are established. This implies recognizing anticipation as a fundamental component of responsible governance;  a component that enables the construction of “socio-technical futures” as a guide for decision-making in the present. It is fundamental because anticipation becomes the component that modulates the degree of responsibility of responsible open scientific-technological practices. However, despite its central relevance, the meanings of anticipation and anticipatory governance are divers, often disparate, if not contradictory, as Mario Pansera showed in his presentation.

Mario Pansera giving a talk about Interpretive multiplicity in Anticipatory Governance

In this context of plurality of meanings, the risks of the very concept of anticipatory governance for the achievement of more responsible science and innovation should not be forgotten, as Alfred Nordman and others have shown. Not only because some anticipatory governance understandings close down the field of possible alternatives and courses of action. (We can call them closed anticipatory governance patterns.) The risks arise above all, however, because anticipatory governance is permanently connected to the risk of instrumentalisation by an innovation system highly committed to techno-industrial developmentalism and economic competitiveness. Therefore, its contribution to responsible science and innovation and its transformative potential should not be taken for granted. Attention needs to be paid to the way in which power relations and instrumentalisation dynamics characteristic of innovation systems tend to exclude, or to close down, the emergence of alternative ways of approaching scientific-technical co-creation. That’s why, among other things, the transformative potential of anticipation towards more responsible forms of scientific practice has to remain analyzed and explored.


All European Academies (2017), The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity:    

Burgelman J-C, Pascu C, Szkuta K, Von Schomberg R, Karalopoulos A, Repanas K and Schouppe M (2019), Open Science, Open Data, and Open Scholarship: European Policies to Make Science Fit for the Twenty-First Century. Front. Big Data 2:43.

Merton, Robert K. 1979 [1942]. “The Normative Structure of Science.” In The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Von Schomberg, R (2019), Why responsible innovation in: R. Von Schomberg and J. Hankins (eds) International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: A Global Resource. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 12–32.

Rene runs a blog with free downloadable resources on RRI:

proposed citation: René von Schomberg and Andoni Ibarra (2022). Introduction to the concepts of Open Science, Responsible Research and Innovation and Anticipatory Governance.

Joost-Pieter Katoen demystifies probabilistic modeling

Joost-Pieter Katoen, Dawid Kasprowicz, Stefan Böschen; Joost-Pieter Katoen cites Ghahramani (2015: 455): “There are several reasons why probabilistic programming could prove to be revolutionary for machine learning and scientific modelling.”

On July 13th, Professor Joost-Pieter Katoen (RWTH Aachen University) gave the final Philosophy of AI lecture: Optimistic and Pessimistic Views lecture at c:o/re, titled “Demystifying probabilistic programming“. The talk convincingly advocated the usefulness and accuracy of probabilistic inferences as performed by computers. Various types of machine learning, argued Joost-Pieter Katoen, can benefit from being developed through probabilistic programming. The underling claim is that probabilistic programs are a universal modeling formalism. Far from implying that this could result in softwares that could successfully replace humans from inferential and decision-making processes, probabilistic programming relies on correct parameterisation, which is an input provided by humans.

The c:o/re team would like to thank Professor Frederik Stjernfelt and Dr. Markus Pantsar for organizing the lecture series Philosophy of AI: Optimistic and Pessimistic Views, which ran throughout the summer semester of 2022.


probabilistic inference

Training of neural networks


Ghahramani, Zoubin. 2015. Probabilistic machine learning and artificial intelligence. Nature 521: 452–459.

New Borderlands between Science, Technology and Society

An interdisciplinary international Graduate Summer School on Open Science starts on Monday July 18th, 2022, in Donostia-San Sebastián, co-hosted, among others, by Prof. Andoni Ibarra and Prof. Stefan Böschen. The guiding questions of the Summer School, which is organized by the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, tackle the ambiguous and uncertain status of the concept of “openness”. The goal of the Summer School’s program is to offer PhD students a framework to further develop and discuss their research projects.

c:o/re inauguration

The Coronation Hall in Aachen’s Historical Town Hall.

On Monday, July 4th 2022 we marked the founding of KHK c:o/re with an inauguration event in the Coronation Hall of Aachen City Hall. We are grateful to the excellent scholars and professionals from many fields who made this such an intellectually enriching event and, indeed, to everyone who participated.

Rector of RWTH Aachen University, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Ulrich Rüdiger welcomed the guests to the first Käte Hamburger Kolleg at a technical university.

In her address, the State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Kornelia Haugg insightfully explained the mission and importance of both Käte Hamburger Colleges, in general, and c:o/re, in particular. It has been delightfully refreshing to gather in this impressive venue with other scholars and stakeholders, old and new friends, as it is now possible to assemble, again. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has been difficult for everyone, has made it impossible for scholars, like for many other professionals, to gather for a long time. We, the c:o/re team, were excited to be surrounded by an extensive network of colleagues at this event, which made us better understand the mission of our own centre. We hope that all attendees will continue to be part of the life of c:o/re in the years to come.

The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Prof. Dr. Torsten H. Voigt appreciated that c:o/re, through its interdisciplinary branching out and fellowship program, will bring an important contribution to the faculty. He expressed his wish that this faculty will provide c:o/re fellows an inspiring research environment, where they will find many colleagues to collaborate with.

c:o/re directors, Professor Stefan Böschen and Professor Gabriele Gramelsberger

After these addresses, c:o/re directors, Professor Gabriele Gramelsberger and Professor Stefan Böschen welcomed and thanked our distinguished guests and introduced the current and future c:o/re fellows, the scientific advisory board, the science program advisors and the c:o/re team.

Professor Karin Knorr Cetina delivering her keynote talk, “From Loving the Data to Loving Automation: Epistemic Shifts in the Digital Age”

Professor Karin Knorr Cetina, a top scholar in science and technology studies, delivered the keynote lecture, titled “From Loving the Data to Loving Automation: Epistemic Shifts in the Digital Age” (abstract). In her superb lecture, Professor Knorr Cetina insightfully tackled the question of whether should humans in science be replaced by models based on data. In her conclusions, she argued that machines cannot research cultures. This question and others were further debated in a panel discussion on “Present-Future Transformations of Research Cultures“, moderated by science journalist Dr. Jan-Martin Wiarda. Professor Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (MPI for the History of Science), Professor Lars Blank (RWTH Aachen, Chair of Applied Microbiology) and Professor Matthias Wessling (RWTH Aachen, Vice Rector for Research and Structure) were the discussants of this roundtable. The conversation revolved around salient contemporary issues such as the digitalization and globalization of science, possibilities of using AI in research and multi- and cross-disciplinarity.

We would like to thank the many colleagues who have been supporting us and we hope that we will rise to the height of the wishes that the guest speakers had for us.

IACS4: Semiotic complexities & research cultures

The book of abstracts of IACS4 can be found here

Together with the Linguistics and Cognitive Semiotics Chair of RWTH Aachen University, colleagues from KU Leuven MIDI research group and other international colleagues, KHK c:o/re contributed to hosting the 4th conference (IACS4) of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics. The conference chair, Professor Irene Mittelberg and her departmental colleague, Professor Martin Thiering were assisted by c:o/re director Professor Gabriele Gramelsberger and Dr. Alin Olteanu in managing this event.

c:o/re panel on Semiotic Approaches to Research Cultures @IACS4

This year’s conference focused on the theme of Semiotic Complexities, bringing the focus of cognitive semiotic research within a similar scope to that of c:o/re. This signals the salience of the topics of complexity and emergence across disciplines. As such, c:o/re organized a panel on Semiotic Approaches to Cultures of Research. Many c:o/re fellows and team members delivered talks in this context, unraveling the linkages between semiotic theories and their research at c:o/re. The program of the conference can be found here.

Dr. Phillip Roth & Dr. Alin Olteanu chair c:o/re

Roundtable on Open Scholarship Responsible Innovation and Anticipatory Governance

Can open scholarship make science more reliable, responsive, credible and inclusive? What is the significance of anticipatory governance for open science and responsible research and innovation? Discuss these and other questions at a roundtable together with our fellows René von Schomberg and Andoni Ibarra. They have invited experts such as Clare Shelley Egan (Technical University of Denmark), Douglas Robinson (Université Gustave Eiffel), Mario Blok (Wageningen University), Frank Miedema (Utrecht University), Roberto Poli (University of Trento), Paola Zaratin (Italien MS Society), and Marianne Hoerlesberger (Austrian Institute of Technology). Klick here to learn more about the program and to join the discussions, please register with events[at]