Working Group Meeting

The Standing and Understanding of Scholars in Society

Online Workshop

The role of scholars, their standing in, and impact on, society, is a question of global relevance and under constant debate. It has become highly topical in the Arab world, where scholars often face considerable obstacles due to limited opportunities of academic expression, scarce financial resources, restricted access to international knowledge production and a lack of prestige and status. In Germany, the increasing influence of external funds on the work and structure of research institutions is debated as a challenge to academic freedom. In addition to this, increasingly influential actors in politics and society reject academic advice in the so-called ‘post-truth era’ that goes along with a severe loss of confidence in academic institutions and their research.

On the other hand, the current pandemic crisis of Covid-19 has led to a certain group of researchers, e.g. virologists and epidemiologists, receiving an extraordinary level of attention by leading policy makers and media outlets. The crisis thereby invokes an astonishing level of awareness of scientific methods and principles among politicians and the broader public. Arguably, this could lead to a more profound understanding of the methods and mechanisms of science and the importance of research and researchers for society.

Thus, it is important to critically evaluate researchers’ functions in society. What influence can academic knowledge production have in societies? How are efforts of science communication and the rise of ‘open science’ having an effect on the role of research and researchers in society? Which role do and can scholars play in the Arab World and in Germany – both in the scientific system and in the public sphere?

Adopting a transregional perspective, the research project aims at raising awareness of analogies and variations in the chances and challenges researchers in these different societies are facing. Furthermore, the researchers will be discussing examples of best practices in science communication and scholars’ entanglement in society. The research project thus aims at exploring the role of scholars in research, education and society, the contribution they can make and the conditions necessary to succeed in this task, from a transregional and transdisciplinary perspective.

A classical statue wearing a VR headset


Disciplines Involved
International Economics, Political Science, Political Sociology
Project Title
The Standing and Understanding of Scholars in Society
Funding Scheme
Working Group Meeting
Working Group
Dynamics of Transformation