Course Offering: „Reflecting on Knowledge and Its Production – Theory, Practice and Methodology across Disciplines

EPICUR > EPICUR news > Course Offering: „Reflecting on Knowledge and Its Production – Theory, Practice and Methodology across Disciplines

Personal registration is required till November, 30, 2020
over email to

Our course was originally developed within the Master Labs project at the University of Freiburg, funded by the DFG. This semester it is also open for interested students in Master’s programs and PhD Candidates at our university as well as of our EPICUR partner Universities. It is aimed at fostering transdisciplinary research skills and is an integral part of the current Master Labs at the University of Freiburg.

The course is hosted by the Department of Instructional Development at the University of Freiburg (Dr. Irina Siegel) and will be offered in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt (Chair of Science and Technology Studies at the University College Freiburg) and Dr. Gernot Saalmann (Institute of Sociology). The working language is English. The course starts 30th of November 2020 and is online till March, 15 2021.

Course Organisation

1. The course will take place in online-modus, using tools for digital teaching with mostly asynchronous teaching formats like digital lectures, slide-casts with interactive components, videocasts etc.). Additionally, the course encompasses several synchronous course meetings (see below). Apart from that no personal presence and no other fixed course-dates for the course participants. Students can work at their own pace on digital course materials. You do not need to personally enrol in the live sessions.

Tuesday, 1st of December 2020 at 3:00-4:00 pm – Virtual Kick-off Meeting for getting together and
introduction of course participants and lecturers

There are 3 more course meetings, with docents of each course part:

  • Tuesday, 1st of December 2020 at 4:00 –5:30 pm – with Gernot Saalmann
  • Wednesday, 2nd of December 2020 at 8:45 – 10:15 am with Irina Siegel
  • Friday, 11th of December 2020 at 10:00 – 11:30 am – with Veronika Lipphardt

At the End of the course:

Sum- It-Up – Meetings for discussion and reflection in each course part will take place in February 2021

After successful registration, we will send you the link to the course meetings and materials

3. From the course start 30th of November the course syllabus with detailed information on assignments and readings as well as digital learning materials will be available in the course room in the thematic folders (at the ILIAS e-learning platform). We will send you the link to the Ilias course by the end of November.

4. The course consists of three thematical parts (see below). The course participants are asked to work through the materials of one course part and to complete and submit the required assignments.

5. The course has a max. capacity of 30 participants.
Personal registration is required till November, 23 2020
over email to

Please send us the following information:

Your name, surname, subject of study, Your current study program You are enrolled, affiliation with a
specific graduate school, University You are studying at and Your email-address, which we only use for
the organisation of this course, Course part(s) you are interested in to participate

5. For questions about the course requirements or other questions about the seminar, please use
contact the coordinator

Expected performance:

1. Active participation in at least 2 live course meetings

2. Self-study of the learning materials

3. Doing short assignments (answering questions, quizzes, doing practical exercises, analysing casestudies or the like)

4. Final written reflection essay with regard to one or more theoretical or methodological aspectsdiscussed in the seminar (about 1,5-2 pages).

Deadline for all deliverables: 15.03.2021
Total minimal Workload pro course part – 12-15 Hours. When 2 or more course parts will be taken, multiply the workload by factor 2 or 3
A certificate of participation will be awarded after a successful accomplishment of the course.

Course Description

The ability to conduct research and to develop new products in interdisciplinary teams are increasingly considered central qualifications in academia and beyond. Successful cooperation requires the members of heterogeneous research teams to be familiar with the philosophical premises, the specific practices, as well as the methodological approaches of different disciplines and respective research traditions.

The aim of this interdisciplinary seminar “Reflecting on Knowledge and Its Production – Theory, Practice and Methodology across Disciplines” is to prepare Master Lab students for interdisciplinary cooperation in research contexts.

Fostering awareness of the epistemological problems and foundation of sciences may help in interdisciplinary
understanding. Together with getting insight on the praxis of making science and technology it will contribute to the reflexivity of own research and science in general. Furthermore, the training on theoretical basics and methodological challenges of survey research will help to
evaluate quantitative research designs and thus quality of social data.Our teaching endeavour is to transcend discipline-specific boundaries by focusing on processes of
knowledge production across disciplines thus establishing the foundations for transdisciplinary dialogue.

Topic 1: Epistemological Basics and Research Philosophies

Knowledge is not simply found “out there” in the world, but is produced by human beings. The same
is true for the data our knowledge is based on. Looking at the world using language and other symbolic
systems means interpretation. Therefore, even in natural sciences researchers constantly have to interpret sense impressions, symbols and theories. Considering this, it becomes clear that there are no epistemological differences between natural sciences and humanities, although their underlying assumptions, approaches and procedures might differ and of course the object of research.
Beginning with a historical overview of main epistemological and philosophical perspectives on research we will at the end focus on the specific epistemological foundations of the social sciences and humanities. To create an awareness of the various philosophic decisions any researcher mainly
unconsciously makes, digital lecture materials will be provided and two exercises (e.g. analysis of short
text extracts) will offer the possibility to reflect on epistemological and theoretical issues of research.

Topic 2: Praxis of Making Science and Technology

Science and technology are everywhere, and they play an increasingly important, if taken-for-granted,
role in our daily lives. But how can we understand the social, cultural, and political impact that science
and technology do, as well as the ways that scientific knowledge and technologies emerge? This course
part introduces students to the field of Science and Technology Studies, or STS. STS is a diverse field of
social scientific and humanistic scholarship—drawing on fields such as history, anthropology, and
sociology—that focuses on the empirical study of science and technology as social and historical
phenomena. In other words, the STS conceptualizes science not only as a body of true knowledge and
technology not only as a set of stable artifacts, but rather as activities people do at particular places
and times. From this perspective, STS explores not only the impact that science and technology have
on society, but also the way that societies and cultures shape science and technology. Through mini-lectures and short reflection assignments, students will learn about and apply major themes and approaches in the field (e.g., Thought-Styles, Tacit Knowledge, Actor Network Theory, Boundary Work, and Co-Production). Students will also be introduced to the ways that STS compliments and contrasts with the Philosophy of Science. Students will also have the opportunity to consider how these perspectives can help them reflect on their own research.

Topic 3: Quantitative Methods of Social Research

If you want to make use of social data, you should be aware of possible problems inherent in some studies’ designs and manipulation possibilities in the way the findings are being produced, interpreted and presented to the lay public. This course will exemplify the misrepresentation of social data and
dwell on the essential quality criteria of the survey research.
We will focus on methodological challenges in survey research: questionnaire design, response behavior, sampling procedures as well as interpreting the results. The aim is to get awareness of social reality constructions by variating the scope of “permissible” methods and techniques and to learn how to assess the quality of research. Overall, the course should not provide ready-made techniques or canonize methodological knowledge, but rather raise questions and irritate supposed certainties. It trains adopting a scrutinizing attitude with regard to evaluating design strategies, choices and techniques of social quantitative research, and not only. Answering short knowledge quizzes, analyzing case studies and writing short assignments will encourage course participants to reflect on methods and results when evaluating (survey) study quality.

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