Translating the Study of Culture
Against the backdrop of the increasing importance given to the so-called “Third Mission” of universities, meaning the transfer of knowledge and research from the university to society, the GCSC/GGK has identified the communication of its research to the public as an important institutional aim. This idea of “Translating the Study of Culture” is also in compliance with the JLU’s “Translating Science” policy laid out in its “JLU 2020” development plan. Centrally and conceptually, the idea of “Public Outreach” is conceptualized within the ideal of the GCSC of “Research Training through Research,” thus making sure that its doctoral and postdoctoral researchers take center stage in communicating the research being done at the GCSC to the public.
Activities So Far
So far, activities in this regard have included holding the one-day symposium “Modelle der öffentlichen Wissenschaftskommunikation” (winter term 2016/17, organized by the Teaching Centre and concerned with current debates around research communication), as well as a workshop series entitled “Werkstatt-Treffen Kulturwissenschaft 2016” (summer term 2016) for which GCSC postdocs taught workshops, for example on material culture or on the conceptions of ethics in the works of Franz Kafka. These workshops were aimed at a wider public and conducted in collaboration with local cultural institutions in Gießen such as the Literarisches Zentrum Gießen (LZG) or the Zentrum für interkulturelle Bildung und Begegnung (ZiBB).
The GCSC was also chosen to represent the JLU at the 2016 Hessentag, an annual state fair and festival, as part of the official JLU delegation. In June 2016, the GCSC also opened its doors to the public as part of a “Tag der offenen Tür”, presenting a multitude of projects led by its doctoral researchers at the GCSC. Further examples of public outreach initiatives organized by GCSC/GGK members include public film series, such as “Movie Meets Museum” at the Oberhessisches Museum organized by the AG Museum Culture & AG Moving Images (winter term 15/16) and exhibitions, e.g. “Making a Home in Giessen” at the Gießen Rathaus in February 2017 by the AG Museum Culture, Research Area 7 and the Emerging Topic Research Group Migration [the exhibition was covered by the Gießener Anzeiger, the Gießener Allgemeine Zeitung and the Wetterauer Zeitung]. Other formats used for reaching out to the public were public readings (e.g. “Deathbook – Der Thriller 3.0,” RA 2, at Ulenspiegel, June 2015) and online platforms (Museumsschwätzer, AG Museum Culture, launched in June 2016; Kleinstadtwildnis, ETRG Oikos, launched in May 2014).
Furthermore, to support and help (post-)doctoral researchers develop the necessary didactical and presentation skills and techniques to successfully communicate their own research to a wider public, the GGK/GCSC Teaching Centre has been offering such workshops as “Didaktik der öffentlichen Wissenschaftskommunikation für Kulturwissenschaften” in the winter term of 2016 and “Kurzer Rede langer Sinn: Wie man große Forschungsthemen allgemeinverständlich und knapp präsentiert“ during the 2018 summer term.
For Research Areas, Sections or Working Group interested in organizing events seeking to appeal to the wider public, the GCSC is committed to giving financial and logistical support to such efforts. Having established, especially through the previous work of its RAs, sections and working groups, a number of valuable contacts at various political and cultural institutions in Gießen (such as those mentioned above), the centre assists interested Research Areas and other groups in connecting them with potential local and regional non-academic partners.
With the series Kurze Rede, langer Sinn | Short Talks, Big Questions, organized as a collaboration between the GCSC and the University Library Giessen, the GCSC presented a new series of short talks during the summer term 2018.