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Why is science important for society?

We live in a knowledge society. Knowledge – in addition to mineral resources, capital and physical activity – is an increasingly important resource. It contributes to the functioning of democracies and innovation and helps countries to be competitive on a global scale. But science which contributes significantly to knowledge production, is confronted with new challenges. 

The role of science in an increasingly fragmented and digital society, as well as its significance for politics and civil society, will be redefined. Science can never offer a universal truth or an objective representation of the world. It can, however, offer methodologically verifiable interpretations and can question certainties and trigger reflections. Science has an important social role and at the same time bears great responsibility precisely when the situation is not clear. How can science communicate existing uncertainties and disputes clearly and still avoid the impression of arbitrariness?

What our directors say about science and society:


What is knowledge transfer?

The interaction between science and society ensures that knowledge is exchanged, tested and reflected between the various interest groups. This interaction is often referred to as knowledge transfer. For example, one speaks of knowledge transfer when medical research is applied in practice or when certain technologies are based on prior research. 

Why does the HIIG speak of science communication?

Contrary to the widespread idea that there is a unidirectional transfer from science to society, the HIIG speaks regularly of the comprehensive term ‘science communication’. Knowledge is changeable and arises out of dialogue when it is shared. An important aspect of knowledge production is the constant exchange between different actors and institutions. Therefore, one should not speak of a one-sided transfer, but of a productive dialogue between scientific and social actors. Science bears the responsibility to keep the door open for communication and to constantly examine and reflect on the knowledge it has gained. 

We are committed to responsible, transparent and problem-oriented science communication (as a conceptual extension of knowledge transfer). That is why we strive for a dialogue on an equal level and for empathy for different stakeholder groups and pursue the approach of accepting uncertainties in science and making them transparent.

FAQs about science and society

Knowledge is an increasingly important resource in our society. Science contributes significantly to the production of knowledge and thus contributes to the functioning of democracies, drives innovation and helps countries to be competitive in the global economy. 

Science can never offer a universal truth or an objective representation of the world. However, it can question the conditions of validity and trigger reflection. Science thus has an important social role to play.


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The Institute in overview

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Financing and support

Global network for internet research

HIIG Podcast

Our Journals

Our blog articles on the topic of science and society

Wie beeinflussen KI-Anwendungen Kreativität

My robot did my homework: AI applications and creativity at the university

Is AI a creativity killer? We consider whether and how generative AI can be used to foster creativity at universities.

implementing educational technology

EdTech: The secret to its implementation

How can universities best implement EdTech? Research-based support for universities navigating the tricky terrain of digital change.

You can see a group of people from above doing lessons online. It symoblises digital teaching/digitale Lehre.

Sharing knowledge: Impact of Covid-19 on digital teaching

How can we address the many inequalities in access to digital resources and lack of digital skills that were revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic?


When will the first AI top the New York Times bestseller list?

Language generators based on artificial intelligence are producing increasingly convincing texts. This led us to wonder: Could an AI guest-author an article in Encore? This AI-written text is the result of our experiment.

Open Access, but not for free: Resilient financing for academic publishing

Open access publishing does cost money too. But if the reader does not pay, who else is? Modes of community publishing and funding provide answers and hint towards a crucial set of values for academic exchange. Several research projects follow-up on this and work on practical solutions.

Possibilities for Change – Higher Education and Digitalisation

Bronwen and Moritz highlight the institutional challenges posed to Higher Education Institutions by the pandemic and outline how these can be viewed as a window of opportunity

Science and society: our videos

Digitaler Salon (in German)

Hacking the Elfenbeinturm

THERESA VÖLKER at Long night of the sciences

What are the problems in science?

Meet Benedikt Fecher

Science, learning, innovation

Our projects and research programmes on the topic of science and society

Ein Zitrone fällt ins Wasser

IMPaQT – Indicators, Measurement and Performance of Quality Assurance: Third-Mission-Activities in the Social Sciences

  The research project “IMPaQT” is about making knowledge transfer from research to society measurable through quality criteria and indicators. We  plan to analyze communication activities between academia and society...
Learning Knowledge

Knowledge & Society: Shifts in knowledge production, organisation and transfer

Digital technologies change the way knowledge is produced, organized and communicated. In the Knowledge & Society research program, we therefore monitor this change. We conduct basic and applied interdisciplinary research...
Gemeinsam digital

Gemeinsam Digital

_Gemeinsam digital, the Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Berlin, is a central contact point for all companies in Berlin and nationwide that have questions about digital transformation. Our work is practical, user-oriented and...