Message posted on 02/02/2023

Nordic STS CfA Universities and Grand Societal Challenges

                Dear all,

We would like to invite you to join us for our panel on "Universities 
and Grand Societal Challenges. Disrupting academic work and modern 
knowledge-making ecologies" at the Nordic STS conference in Oslo from 
June 7-9 

Convenors: Kyriaki Papageorgiou, Helen Gansmo, Vivian Anette Lagesen, 
and Knut H. Sørensen

*Panel abstract*

Universities are some of the oldest and most robust modern institutions. 
Their size and their importance in contemporary societies have increased 
substantially over the past century, due to their establishment as main 
hubs for the making, evaluation, and dissemination of knowledge, not the 
least through higher education. Since the 1990s, concerns have been 
voiced over the trajectory of universities and academic work, 
particularly how they have been reshaped by neo-liberal ideologies, 
especially managerialism and new public management. Today, universities 
face critical challenges, related to funding and relevance to society, 
but also in terms of the impact of and trust in the knowledge academics 
generate. Policymakers increasingly present universities and research 
institutes with so-called grand societal challenges, expecting these 
institutions to play a major role in the engagement with these 
challenges. This is an opportune moment, therefore, to examine and 
rethink the position and role of universities and the knowledge-making 
ecologies within which they are enmeshed. This task is even more 
relevant for the STS community to uptake, since at the core of the field 
are fundamental questions about the relationship between science and 

This panel aims to contribute to better understanding the complexities 
and diversities of current university practices and explore 
alternatives. More specifically, we welcome submissions that examine the 
following challenges:

•    Academic freedom, epistemic politics, and collegiality
•    Audit cultures, academic assessments, academic precarity and the 
future of tenure
•    Open science and the academic publishing cultures
•    New theories of knowledge and science
•    Effects of digitalization and machine learning
•    Usefulness of university degrees and universities’ engagement with 
life-long learning
•    Repairing academic citizenship
•    University utopias and hopeful futures.

Submission deadline: March 1 2023

Submission form: 

We look forward to your submission.


Kyriaki, Helen, Vivian and Knut

Knut H. Sørensen
Professor emeritus, affiliated with the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture
Centre for Technology and Society, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Web pages :

Recent publications:
Knut H. Sørensen and Sharon Traweek. 2022.  Questing Excellence in Academia.
A Tale of Two Universities, Routledge. Open access from
Knut H. Sørensen. 2021. STS as a Lens to Study Disciplines and Interdisciplinarity. A Comment on Sharon Traweek’s ‘I Prefer the Map.’ Engaging Science, Technology, & Society 7.2: 88–96.
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