Current Workshops


Social Science Works offers a variety of courses and workshops. The needs and problems of the addressed students and organizations are pivotal in deciding their contents.

The Uses of Research

Sooner or later citizens participating in civic organizations, as well as journalists, commentators and career policy makers, will be confronted with research products aimed at the empirical and normative justification of particular policies. Often they will not have the needed knowledge to understand, decode and evaluate these research products. In this course some basic knowledge about research will be taught enabling citizens and policy makers to make better use of research.

The course will consist of 7 meetings of each three hours. In the first five meetings basic knowledge about statistics and research designs will be lectured. In the last two meetings particular research products brought in by the participants of the course will jointly be evaluated. To further mutual learning the classes will not have more than fifteen participants each. For the same purpose we aim to bring people together with different professional backgrounds and societal positions.

The tuition fee depends on the background of the students and their organizations. Students representing less resourceful civic organizations will be charged less or will receive help to get their fee funded by foundations trying to further civic society. Participants will receive a certificate.

 

 

Olive TreeInquiry and Change

How to Better Society via a Sequence of Small Incremental Steps informed by Usable Knowledge of Stakeholders?

Many policymakers and participants in civil society have a rather rational and optimistic view of policymaking. This view causes disillusionments as well as ineffectiveness in the effort to inform policies with one’s interests, values, goals and knowledge. In this rationalistic view policies are grounded on a well-considered, consistent and coherent plan to realize far-reaching, well defined goals. All the possible instruments and all their projected effects or outcomes have been analyzed. Subsequently, the instruments which realize the goals with the lowest possible costs have been chosen.

In reality, in open democratic societies policies develop far less logical, systematic, cogent and predictable. They come about under the influence of many different stakeholders with different, often conflicting, values and goals. These stakeholders also have different expectations of instruments and different definitions of problems. Policymakers do not try to realize big, far-reaching goals but try to solve pressing problems in a long, never ending sequence of small incremental steps. In this process they continuously negotiate the goals and instruments with relevant stakeholders and try to tap off their knowledge about the problem and its possible solutions.

Insight in how policies are actually developed gives a higher chance to improve the democratic quality and rationality of the policymaking process and its outcomes. This insight also makes it more possible to let one’s knowledge of the problem in question, and one’s definition and evaluation of the values and goals involved, to affect the policy. Relevant issues that also arise in this context are: What kind of knowledge and research do policymakers need and what knowledge can professional scholars and citizens and their civic organizations provide? How to further democratic participation and deliberation in the policy making processes to improve its rationality, effectiveness, and representativeness of the values and goals of society?

The course will consist of 7 meetings of each three hours. To further mutual learning the classes will not have more than fifteen participants each. For the same purpose we aim to bring people together with different professional backgrounds and societal positions. Participants will receive a certificate. The tuition fee depends on the background of the students and their organizations. Students representing less resourceful civic organizations will be charged less or will receive help to get their fee funded by foundations trying to further civic society.

 

How to be a Relevant Scholar offering Usable Knowledge?

Social Science Works will act as a broker between, on the one hand, public actors with particular knowledge-needs and, on the other hand, established scholars, and, in particular, students writing master-theses and dissertations with an interest in the field in question. The matches and collaborations will be furthered by a website and personal advice.

Students will be coached during their research to meet the expectations of both academic and societal actors in need of knowledge. This will be done both on an individual basis and via workshops where students can exchange their experiences. Public actors with knowledge needs will be helped to formulate their research questions in such ways that university students can answer them in meaningful ways.

The tuition fee depends on the background of the organizations asking for usable knowledge. Less resourceful civic organizations will be charged less or will receive help to get their fee funded by foundations trying to further civic society.