Silje Maria Tellmann, Nordic Institute for studies in innovation, research and education (NIFU) and Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK), University of Oslo, s.m.tellmann (at)

Kristian Bjørkdahl, Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo, kristian.bjorkdahl (at)

Reetta Muhonen, Higher Education Group, HEG, Tampere University, reetta.muhonen (at)



In a time when science is being questioned as never before, research funding agencies and research institutions have boosted their efforts to spark renewed trust in science. Such efforts stimulate more science communication, incentivize closer interactions between researchers and stakeholders, and, more generally, promote and document the societal impact of research. A notable strand in the response to the post-truth situation has thus been to intensify already on-going processes towards an increased focused on utility. The practical manifestations of this shift are manifold, and include requirements to integrate stakeholders as partners in research projects, calls for detailed dissemination plans in research proposals, the sharp growth of the communications profession within academic institutions, the proliferation of “impact stories,” and much more.

This reshuffling of the intersection between science and society affords an opportunity to revisit the conditions for co-production of knowledge and for building public trust in science through communication. How can a closer integration of science in and with society help scientists approach the highest ideals of science? How does the shift towards utility actually make science more useful? On the other hand, what new challenges arise from this renegotiating of the boundaries between researchers and the public; as some boundaries are removed, what new boundaries may arise? Also, what – if anything – is lost in a process that its critics decry as “instrumentalization” of science?

For this session, we invite scholars to submit work that explores the recent shifts in the science-society interface, the manifestations of these shifts in the professional and personal lives of scientists and citizens, and the opportunities and/or challenges these shifts bring with them.