Science Policy Interface and Public Understanding of Science

Science Policy Interface

HHU aims to contribute to facilitating fact-based and scientifically guided political decision-making processes as well as to counteract populist movements. This is why scientists at HHU contribute to debates on future issues in socio-political and economic areas with their expertise, in an advisory capacity, either personally or as members of expert panels – as for example the Leopoldina or on ethics boards.

In addition they present their scientific findings in the public media and/or discuss them in lectures involving politics and the public. HHU has a special scientific emphasis in the exploration of the processes behind the formation of the political will as such, with regard to the possibilities of "online participation" and party research.


Examples of Activities and Projects in the Area of "Scientific Perspective of Political Discourses"


The Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) at HHU researches the possibilities and limitations of competition. The research results are not only innovative and internationally visible, they are also application-oriented and thus regularly enter current social and political discourses.


Online Participation

The Internet offers diverse possibilities for the involvement of citizens in democratic decision-making processes. The DIID (Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy) at HHU researches digital innovations and develops corresponding technical concepts. Here, cooperation with partners – for example from local politics – is essential: Together, different democratic participatory possibilities are developed on the Internet and then evaluated. The aim of the scientists at the DIID is not only to research participation, it is also to facilitate it together with collaborating partners. 


Public Understanding of Science

Scientific findings are occasionally met with distrust and untruths are glossed over as "alternative facts". HHU therefore strives to make the process of knowledge acquisition transparent and to share this acquired knowledge with those in the general public who are interested. 

The campus grounds, Haus der Universität (located in Düsseldorf’s city centre) and Mickeln House all serve as places of dialogue where researchers can explain their current research results as well as discuss the consequences and risks of their findings. 

In addition, HHU uses social media to present their research results and to interact with different target groups. As a Bürgeruniversität, HHU is always dedicated to collecting new ideas from experts outside of the university on current social questions and to discussing these with the community. 

Examples of Activities and Projects in the Area of Public Understanding of Science

Heinrich Heine Visiting Lecturer

Every two years, HHU hosts a Heinrich-Heine Gastprofessur (visiting lecturer). The respective visiting lecturer critically discusses current socially-relevant topics with members of HHU and the general public in lectures, seminars and panel discussions. A visiting lecturer in 2016, journalist Ulrich Wickert addressed the topic "Power and Media"; on the occasion of his visiting lectureship in 2018, retired Federal President Joachim Gauck spoke about Germany as a country of immigration. Since 1988, visiting lecturers have included Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Richard von Weizsäcker, Helmut Schmidt, Wolf Biermann, Siegfried Lenz, Durs Grünbein, Joschka Fischer and Karl Kardinal Lehmann.  

IHK Schlossgespräche
The IHK Schlossgespräche are organised together with the Düsseldorf Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Here, scientists from different disciplines meet representatives from the private sector at Mickeln House in order to discuss relevant topics on the boundaries of science and economy. Past “Castle Discussions” included the problem of exploding costs in large-scale projects (2016), neuroeconomics as a catalyst for management (2015) and growth financing as an important driver of entrepreneurship (2014). Finally, HHU philosophers exchanged with representatives of the regional economy on the topic of creativity and the conditions of creative and innovative thinking in companies.



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