To effectively address upcoming challenges collaboratively, scientists should expand the reach of their work beyond academic circles. Facilitating dynamic interactions with practitioners, policymakers, businesses, and civil society is crucial in navigating and surmounting challenges.
However, the sharing of scientific discoveries should not be left to chance. It requires a delicate balance. On one hand, knowledge should be widely disseminated, and on the other, it should be presented in a manner tailored to specific audiences.
To achieve this, scientists and research institutions must develop appropriate products, media, and channels to ensure that their work can be put into practice in real-life situations. Furthermore, a comprehensive understanding of the ecosystem is crucial for delivering information in a targeted manner. The communication channel should not be one-sided. Active efforts should be made to identify and leverage synergies, and address the specific needs of diverse stakeholders.
The WiWiSoGe project aims to comprehensively investigate two key aspects: the current state of research on knowledge transfer from the humanities and social sciences to non-academic sectors of society, and the existing knowledge transfer practices within the University of Heidelberg. This research will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of how knowledge transfer influences both society and academia. Building on this foundation, our project seeks to develop a set of standardized indicators that can effectively capture various forms of knowledge transfer, assess their impact, and, wherever feasible, quantify them.
The project aims to determine, document and – where possible - quantify the impact of knowledge transfer in the social sciences and humanities. In this regard, both the state of research on and the existing culture of the transfer of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences to non-academic areas of society (e.g., politics, culture, economy, civil society, etc.) will be explored at the University of Heidelberg.
The existing transfer activities in the social sciences and humanities will be documented and systematized in the form of a typology of so-called transfer pathways and formats. One of the basic challenges for researchers at the university is to phrase their findings in a way that is comprehensible and serviceable for those at the receiving end. Therefore, while producing the systematic classification of transfer formats, the expectations of potential recipients – both inside and outside the university setting – of the transferred knowledge, and their earlier experiences in collaborations with research institutions will be collected, analyzed, and reflected. This is also important insofar as knowledge transfer is thought of not as a one-way street but as an activity that requires cooperation among all stakeholders.
We intend to work with a co-production approach where all stakeholders including the academic disciplines and the practice partners share influence, skills, and experience to formulate solutions to common problems. Finally, a system of indicators shall be developed which would not only gauge the maturity of a project in terms of its potential for impact but also contribute towards creating interdisciplinary or cross-faculty transfer profiles. The indicators will help in the allocation of resources and recognition, and evaluation and promotion of transfer activities in social sciences and humanities. Special emphasis will be placed on producing impact models and indicators – quantitative where possible - for specific transfer channels of the humanities and social sciences, which have not been adequately considered in the criteria for transfer activities available to date.