Science for sustainable development requires a critical orientation

  • Science is under pressure. In times when it is a matter of nothing less that a transformation toward sustainable development, society and politics are demanding not just reliable knowledge but above all useful knowledge. In order to be able to produce such knowledge science must change its structures and ways of working. A renewed understanding of critique can provide guidance to the process of change that must be actively shaped by science itself.* The “Great Transformation” in the direction of sustainable development is a global challenge for society (WBGU2011). All involved have stressed that this transformation, if it succeeds, will lead to profound changes in all parts of society (see PIK 2007). This applies to science as well, which after all is a part of society (WBGU2011, pp. 341 f.). For in view of an unprecedented social-ecological crisis science is coming increasingly under pressure to provide knowledge that is not only methodically reliable but also useful for dealing with the challenges ahead. It is obvious this pressure can strike at the very core of the scientific project: Any orientation toward nonscientific criteria with respect to what is to count as relevant knowledge threatens to undermine the reflexive and cooperative search for “true knowledge.” In this situation we believe it to be crucial that science does not allow itself to become a plaything of calls for change, but rather that it itself shapes its own response to the new historical challenges. In the following, we argue that a renewed understanding of critique should be the starting point for such an endeavor.1 We will illustrate what a renewed understanding of critique might look like by posing nine theses.2 We see these theses as a contribution to the ongoing discourse on sustainability science or research for sustainable development.

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Author:Thomas Jahn
Parent Title (German):Institut für Sozial-Ökologische Forschung: ISOE-Diskussionspapiere ; Nr. 39
Series (Serial Number):ISOE-Diskussionspapiere (39)
Publisher:ISOE – Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Document Type:Working Paper
Date of Publication (online):2016/07/22
Year of first Publication:2016
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2016/07/22
Page Number:13
Last Page:11
Institutes:Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung (ISOE)
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 330 Wirtschaft
3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 333 Boden- und Energiewirtschaft / 333.7 Natürliche Ressourcen, Energie und Umwelt
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht