class="csc-frame csc-frame-default"How does knowledge get into Society

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

WHAT IS THE ZGW?

Portrait

The Center »History of Knowledge« (ZGW) is a scientific center of excellence of the University of Zurich (Center of Competence) and the ETH Zurich (D-GESS) that aims to promote and coordinate cultural, historical and philosophical research and teaching on modern knowledge systems and knowledge societies. The ZGW is a center for scientific research as well as a platform for public reflection on the role of knowledge in modern societies.

As decreed by the Board of Directors of the University of Zurich, the Center »History of Knowledge« was established as a joint center of the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich effective January 1, 2005 and once again accredited January 1, 2010.

Currently, ZGW faculty comprises twelve professors from the University of Zurich and seven professors of the ETH Zurich. At the moment the associated faculty consists of 32 members (Post-Doc`s). In this way, we bring together expertise in theoretical and practical philosophy, literary and cultural as well as historical science (history of science, art, medicine, architecture, technology and global history), creating a strong interdisciplinary, internationally-oriented research group.

The ZGW also has a master program and a SUK-doctoral program.

Our Research

To begin with: The ZGW has no unité de doctrine. Our common starting point is rather an assumption: We assume that the historical development of knowledge – with all its epistemic, technological, and cultural premises as well as its consequences – has to be understood as an open-ended process. Therefore, our center sees itself as a place where we reflect on knowledge dynamics from a historical, cultural and philosophical perspective.
In order to avoid premature epistemic demarcations in the analysis of modern knowledge societies, e.g. between scientific and popular knowledge, we put our methodical focus on the circulations of different forms of knowledge through society. This means we ask how scientific, technical and medical forms of knowledge, as well as its practices, semantics and materiality, are generated, sustained and how they decline and turn obsolete. Moreover, we cultivate a certain sensibility concerning non-scientific forms of knowledge and their impact on values and practices in the Lebenswelt.

The key category of our center, i.e. »knowledge«, is distinct from the term used traditionally in science and the history of science:

Forms of Knowledge
Knowledge includes academic, but also various forms of non-academic »public« and »popular« knowledge. This dynamic and complex concept of knowledge differs substantially from the old epistemic privilege of scientific knowledge.

Circulation of Knowledge
Knowledge circulates within and between social spheres. In these exchange processes between academic and non-academic forms of knowledge, new knowledge is generated, disseminated and continually changed.

Practices of Knowledge
Knowledge is not free-floating: On the one hand, knowledge is associated with institutions, thus, it is part of power structures; on the other hand, knowledge is always intertwined with and constituted by physical practices, It depends on media, representation and visualization techniques, as well as forms of speech and discourse.

See our projects.

For further reading:
Pidgin-Knowledge. Wissen und Kolonialismus (Harald Fischer-Tiné 2013)
Was ist Wissensgeschichte? (Philipp Sarasin 2011)
Wissensgeschichte - Eine Standortbestimmung (David Gugerli 2012)
All editorials of our Yearbook for the History of Knowledge (since 2005)

Our Teaching

Demand
We live in the age of knowledge. Therefore, we need experts for the epistemic, economic, political, social, ethic and aesthetic premises and consequences of the production and circulation of knowledge. The knowledge society needs academically trained strategists who are able to analyze different bodies of knowledge and their entanglements. We need professionals who are able to translate scientific knowledge into a discourse which is intelligible for all.

Offer
Since 2007, our competence center houses a graduate center with, at present, 26 PhD students and a master program with, at present, 44 students. In addition, we offer various courses for PhD students and master students of the ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, e.g. an introduction into the history and philosophy of knowledge.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Program Fall 2019

Colloquium Sept 25: José Brunner (Tel Aviv): »Trauma und Überschuss. Eine Geschichte der doppelten Emotionsökonomien posttraumatischer Störungen«

Knowledge in Society #20, Oct 2: Topic: Economy and Environment (title tba)

Colloquium Oct 16: Gabriel Motzkin (Jerusalem): »The Emotional Preconditions for Modern Subjectivity«

Colloquium Oct 30: Dominic Sachsenmaier (Göttingen): »Knowledge Production in in 17th-Century Chinese Christianity: Global and Local Dimensions of Power and Faith«

Colloquium Nov 13: Shaul Katzir (Tel Aviv): »Simultaneous Inventions and the Process of Innovation«

Knowledge in Society #21, Nov 17: Topic & Speakers tba

More details under events.

Reading Group

The Conversation of Force in the knowledge of human

Reading group on how the physical theory of conversation of energy has informed psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, social sciences, and cultural studies as well as occult knowledge about the soul. Organized by Prof. Dr. José Brunner (Tel Aviv University) and Dr. Monika Wulz (ETH Zürich).

Language: German

Fall Term 2019
Thursdays 3 to 5pm on 9/19, 9/26, 10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31
Room: ETH RZ F 1

Please register with Monika Wulz.

Wissen in Gesellschaft #20

October 2, 2019


Topic: Economy and Environment (exact Title tba)

 

With Prof. Dr. Thomas Kuszynski (Economic History, Berlin)

Place & Time: Cabaret Voltaire, Spiegelgasse 1, 8001 Zurich, 6.30pm

ZGW Colloquium

October 16, 2019

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Gabriel Motzkin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The Emotional Preconditions for Modern Subjectivity (Abstract)

Place & Time: ETH Zürich, RZ building, Clausiusstrasse 59, 8092 Zurich, Room F 21, 6.15-8pm

ZGW Colloquium

October 30, 2019

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Dominic Sachsenmaier (Göttingen University)

Knowledge Production in in 17th-Century Chinese Christianity: Global and Local Dimensions of Power and Faith (Abstract)

Place & Time: ETH Zürich, RZ building, Clausiusstrasse 59, 8092 Zurich, Room F 21, 6.15-8pm

ZGW Colloquium

November 13, 2019

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Shaul Katzir (Tel Aviv University, Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas)

Simultaneous Inventions and the Process of Innovation (Abstract)

Place & Time: ETH Zürich, RZ building, Clausiusstrasse 59, 8092 Zurich, Room F 21, 6.15-8pm

Wissen in Gesellschaft #21

November 27, 2019


Title: N.N.

 

Speaker: N.N.

Place & Time: Cabaret Voltaire, Spiegelgasse 1, 8001 Zurich, 6.30pm

NEWS & MEDIA APPEARANCE

Job Posting

The chair für History of Medicine (Prof. Flurin Condrau) at University of Zurich searches for a PhD-student and a Postdoc: Stellenausschreibung (in German)

Publication

Æther #3. Montanwelten: Alpengeschichte Abseits des Pfades

Edited by Tina Asmussen. Zürich, intercom Verlag: 2019
More

Farewell

We farewell two associated members and congratulate them on their new positions: Stefan Leins will take up a Juniorprofessur for ethnology with a focus on »cultures of economy« at University of Konstanz, Robert Leucht will hold a professorship in modern German literature at University of Lausanne.

Academic Guest

We are happy to welcome Yael Friedmann from Tel Aviv as an academic guest in May within our exchange program »Knowledge in Society« with Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University.

Yael Friedmann will give a talk on »More (w)holes than Swiss cheese: Examining the Holistic Perspective of Precision Medicine« at the research colloquium at the Chair for History of Medicine of UZH on May 22, 4pm. 

Academic Guest

We are happy to welcome Ahuvia Goren from Tel Aviv as an academic guest in April within our exchange program »Knowledge in Society« with Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University.

Ahuvia Goren will give a talk on »Jewish Scepticism in the Enlightenment« at  Colloquium in Literary Studies on April 17, at 3-5pm in IFW C 42. All interested colleagues are invited.

Exchange program

We are happy to announce that two scholars from Tel Aviv are coming to Zurich this semester in our »Knowledge in Society« exchange program with Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University:

April: Ahuvia Goren, PhD student
May: Yael Friedman, PhD student

Publication

Authors and Apparatus. A Media History of Copyright

Monika Dommann, transl. by Sarah Pybus. Ithaca, London: Cornell University Press 2019

More