Biblioteksmiljö med uppslagen bok och ett träd som växer ut ur boken

Academic freedom and social change

A one day-conference on diverse humanities and social science approaches arranged by Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden, November 24, 2020

We live in a time of increasing calls for academics to collaborate with each other and society to create a better future. This conference, taking place through zoom, offers an arena for various intellectual and practical approaches to academic freedom and social change within and between the humanities, social sciences, and arts. 

Four keynote speakers open the conference by presenting their particular take on how to contribute to social improvements through the action space that the academic position allows for:

  • Tamara Witschge, Professor Cross media, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and Professor Media and Cultural Industries, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

    Title contribution: “Living journalism, living research”.

    “What does it mean to be engaged as researcher, to be involved? Or, to speak with Donna Haraway: “to become-with” with those who / that which we research? In this talk, I reflect on my own academic journey, which has taken me from a positivistic understanding of knowledge at the start of my studies to the joy of collaborating with artists, journalists and others to develop new conceptualisations and practices of journalism in my current work, some 20 years later. I explore what it means to research together with practitioners and what doubts I have encountered (my own and those of others) in employing a set of creative methods in my research.”

  • From Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities:

    • Cornelius Holtorf, UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures.

      Title contribution: “What academic freedom can mean in the humanities”.

      “I will discuss, with examples, what academic freedom can mean in the humanities. Sometimes used to justify research that has few apparent benefits for larger constituencies, I argue that freedom comes with responsibility. Academic freedom should be used to build research collaborations and explore research agendas that are based on innovative approaches, bold reasoning and critical thinking. Free research should be challenging and riskfull; it may not always succeed with its original ambitions, but it may also generate unexpected benefits.”

    • Renaud de la Brosse, professor at the Department of Media and Journalism.

      Title contribution: “The dangers of compartmentalization of knowledge/disciplines: of seating between two chairs (or more)”.

      “I intend to recall that academic freedom, which should be defined, is a good that wears out when it is not used and that it is not defended. The attacks on these are of various kinds, as we will have to show.  I will also speak of the non sens the compartmentalization of knowledge/disciplines represents from my personal background/experience".

    • Åsa Ståhl, senior lecturer Design.

      Title contribution: “Caring about sustainable future-making through public engagement and feminist technoscience”.

      “As a design researcher who observes many challenges in society, I’ll give account of how I, in different collaborations, have been trying to imagine other futures. Design has a strong future-orientation and seems to answer with something ”new”, regardless of what the challenge is. But what can the academic freedom allow us to answer if we’re aligned with methods such as participatory and speculative design & participatory action research and concepts such as care stemming from feminist technoscience? My answers include composting done by common mealworms in domestic environments, plant-pollinator relationships out of sync and a Tiny House on Wheels.”

You are welcome to meet and discuss the keynotes in a panel conversation. Those who wish are kindly invited to express interest in being part of a network application on academic freedom and social change from a humanistic and social science perspective focusing on methods/applications as social solidarity, intellectual diversity, responsibility toward society, and what that could and should mean.

The afternoon session is a joint exploration of how academic freedom and social change can be practiced in media and journalism. To create an inclusive approach to this, you can participate by presenting your idea/project/call for cooperation.

The one-day conference is free of charge and for all interested, taking place online via zoom. 

Conference funding

The conference is co-financed by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Department of Media and Journalism and The Knowledge Environment A Questioned Democracy.

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