What makes a knowledge environment attractive for academics? What impedes their creativity? How do spatial relations of scholars and the local knowledge milieu affect research processes? This talk by Prof. Dr. Peter Meusburger will deal with the spatial dimension of scientific practice using the example of the city of Heidelberg and its University and numerous other research institutions.
Peter Meusburger is Professor of Human Geography at the Heidelberg University. He has researched extensively on the geography of knowledge, science and education, and their economic, social and environmental impacts. He is also the editor of the “Heidelberg Research Atlas”, a richly illustrated and thoroughly researched documentation of research and teaching at Heidelberg University since its foundation in 1386, which has been published in 2011 on the occasion of the university’s 625th anniversarAbstract
Academics and students do not work in a social, cultural, and economic vacuum; they are inspired or impeded by societal and organizational structures; they depend on research infrastructure, libraries, evaluators, critical audiences and a multitude of other factors whose local interaction results in a knowledge milieu. Such knowledge milieus are nourished by the experience and networks of the particular scholars involved, by the spatial dimension of scientific cooperation, by the geographical mobility of academics and students, the autonomy and reputation of universities, as well as many other important factors and aspects. Each university location provides scientists and students a different knowledge environment, which, in turn, has a bearing on whether and how soon new scientific concepts, practices, or technical innovations are accepted and acted upon - whether it is possible to discuss contested ideas, to conduct expensive experiments, to become part of important networks, to hear promptly of crucial developments, or to meet with agreement or criticism upon airing new ideas. Taking Heidelberg as an example for an early European university town, this lecture will focus on development of its unique ‘knowledge milieu’ throughout its 625 years of history.