061: Theory of science and transdisciplinarity with Joerg Niewoehner

In this episode, Stefan interviews Joerg Niewoehner. 

Joerg is a professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, where he is also the director of the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems, with the acronym (IRI THESys). He holds a PhD in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia. In 2004, he joined the Institute of European Ethnology at Humboldt University in Berlin to develop a collaborative program between Social Anthropology and the Life Sciences. He now holds a chair in Social Anthropology of Human-Environment Relations. He conducts ethnographic research at the intersection of science and technology studies, social anthropology and environmental sciences focusing particularly on the qualities of urbanisation, social-ecological change, and metabolic and market dynamics. He also serves on the board of the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies.

In episode, we discuss how reflecting on theory of science can help position scholars towards understanding interdisciplinary challenges. We also discuss the challenges with inter- and trans-discipliarity, along with his perspectives on the challenges and paths forward. We touch on how the structural organization of universities and institutes balance traditional disciplinary orientation and more innovative forms of academic organization to foster interdisciplinarity. Joerg also talk about his future research interests in long social-ecological research with a focus on qualitative and quality change using qualitative data. For this he is interested in pushing forward innovative ways to archive qualitative data in social groups as living knowledge and archives rather than traditional digital repositories.