Hermine Bähr, Universität Erfurt

Laboratories of Transformation. Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production in a 'Real-World Lab' of Energy Transition

The aim of this study is to examine the production of transdisciplinary knowledge in the context of real-world laboratories. The concept of transdisciplinarity describes the intentionally installed research setting of hybrid knowledge production at the science-public nexus that is aiming to solve pressing societal challenges. Especially in the context of climate change, sustainable development and urban planning, so-called real-world laboratories are implemented to co-create 'robust' and 'socially relevant' knowledge that leads to social change. In transdisciplinary research projects of transformative science, knowledge and transformation are combined.

This project seeks to investigate - by making use of an ethnographic analysis - how practices of knowledge production change under the condition of research done in the hybrid setting of a real-world laboratory. Laboratory Studies in the field of Science and Technology Studies (e.g. Woolgar & Latour) described how solid facts are produced in research laboratories, whereas this study investigates how a context-specific understanding of an issue of concern gets settled in a real-world lab.

When the practice of science, or doing research, is the process of transforming diffuse and resistant issues and noisy realities into neat entities i.e. mobile universal facts and ordered conditions, what is done in transdisciplinary settings where other - non-scientific - practices of knowledge production are included?