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Night of Sciences - November 16th, 2016

ESGC held its first Night of Sciences on November 16th, 2016. It aimed at bringing together all researchers of the faculty as well as master students in order to give them a glimpse into the diversity and breadth of ongoing doctoral research projects.   The focus of the Night of Sciences lay on the challenges and conditions of inter- and transdisciplinarity in research.  

The event started off in an atypical fashion that was carried out the whole evening; the introduction to the night took place not in a conference room or a lecture hall, but in the archeological collection located in the same building as the faculty.  The intention was to change the typical environment for scientific events and to stimulate intermingling of different disciplines.

Surrounded by antique statues, the keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Andreas Muhar(Director of DokNE Doctoral School of Sustainable Development at BOKU Vienna) introduced the audience to the field of knowledge integration, transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and paths to approach and realize it. According to Dr. Muhar, transdisciplinarity can be seen as a new paradigm in academic research characterized by the integration of multi-disciplinary scientific and non-academic knowledge for complex problem solving. He discussed the need and opportunities for coproduction of knowledge in academic research through true amalgamation of multiple disciplines.

The topic is of especial importance to the ESGC graduate school which is home to researchers in a diverse number of fields such as silviculture, geology, environmental social sciences, soil ecology, wildlife management and so on.

This diversity was reflected in the flashlight presentations that followed. 11 ESGC members came forth with a short introduction of their respective doctoral research projects. Topics such as “Participatory mapping of landscape values in Europe”, “Human influences affect the predictability of streamflow droughts”, and “What makes environmental discourses policy relevant? The case study of Bolivia” gave the audience an insight into the wide variety of research projects underway at ESGC.

After the presentations, the Night of Sciences moved from the archaeological collection and was guided to the poster exhibition in the covered courtyard of the faculty. For the event, it was transformed into a matrix comprising of dimensions of knowledge classification proposed by the keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Muhar:   Scale (context specific verses generalized), Functional (phenomenological versus strategic), and Epistemic (experimental verses scientific).

The audience was invited to walk around the exhibition and to reflect, discuss and eventually decide for each research project to which of the categories it would fit.  After an hour of lively discussions among the audience the 40 posters were rearranged on the matrix of knowledge classification. The night ended on a high note when Prof. Dr. Muhar took the stage to comment upon the new arrangement of the posters from the three different disciplinary fields. 

The success of the Night of Sciences event was exhibited by the enthusiasm with which the audience of seasoned academics, doctoral fellows, and master student collectively participated in the interactive formats offered at each stage. The ESGC graduate school looks forward to experimenting with and incorporating such innovative formats in its future Graduate School Conferences. 

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