Helga Nowotny, ETH Zurich

Helga Nowotny, ETH Zurich


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Friday, 29 September 2017 at 11:00 in the CNR Seminar Room, EMBL Rome

Helga Nowotny, ETH Zurich

Working Together – but how? Scientific collaboration in a globalised world


Collaboration is in. So are networks and sharing, open science and open access. Global student mobility is at unprecedented levels and so is globally distributed scientific work. Humanity faces enormous challenges that can only be tackled by large-scale, cross-national efforts of collaboration and coordination. Meanwhile, the unrelenting generation of ever more data, waiting to be curated and processed, made interoperable and translated into tangible benefits, continues to transform the organisation of scientific practice and how to manage scientific institutions.

The younger generation of researchers finds itself caught in the ensuing turbulence. The geographical-spatial extension of research is accompanied by a tighter temporal grip exerted locally. Standardisation of career paths favours mainstream thinking while failure, creativity and diversity are celebrated as desirable ideals at the same time. Expectations of being adept at multi-tasking abound while the focus on the tasks ahead becomes more narrow. How to survive such contradictions? How to embrace the uncertainty that comes with it?

I will attempt to discuss how greater reflexive awareness of the enablement and constraints that come with the current transformation can help to better understand the different imaginaries of what ‘working together’ might mean and entail.


Helga Nowotny is Professor emerita of Science and Technology Studies, ETH Zurich, and a founding member of the European Research Council. In 2007 she was elected ERC Vice President and from March 2010 until December 2013 President of the ERC. Currently she is Chair of the ERA Council Forum Austria, member of the Austrian Council and Vice-President of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. She is Nanyang Technological University Singapore Visiting Professor.
She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University, NY. and a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Vienna. She has held teaching and research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Vienna; King’s College, Cambridge; University of Bielefeld; Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin; Ecole des Hautes Etudes an Sciences Sociales, Paris; Science Center for Social Sciences, Berlin; Collegium Budapest; Budapest. Before joining ETH Zurich, Professor Nowotny was Professor for Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna. Among other, Helga Nowotny is Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and continues to serve on many international advisory boards in Austria and throughout Europe. Just to mention a few: she is Member of the Steering Board of the Falling Walls Foundation, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Complexity Science Hub Vienna, Chair of Advisory Board of The Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity Paris, Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the L’Institut d’études avancées de Paris and Member of the Strategic Research Advisory Board of the Austrian Institute of Technology. Helga Nowotny has published widely in Science and Technology Studies, STS, and on social time. Throughout her professional career Helga Nowotny has been engaged in science and innovation policy matters and continues to serve as advisor at national and EU level. From 2001 till 2005 she was Chair of the European Research Advisory Board, EURAB, advising the European Commission.