Prof. Dr. Hans Blokland
Hans Blokland is a Dutch social and political scientist and philosopher, currently living in Potsdam, Germany. He is married with four children.
In the last 20 years Hans Blokland published a large number of books and essays in the overlapping fields of social and political science and philosophy, sociology of culture, political economy, history of thought, and philosophy of science. The essays have been published in a wide variety of academic and professional journals and magazines, addressing many different publics. For his academic work, visit his personal website.
Hans Blokland worked for the Dutch Ministry of Culture as a senior policymaker, and as a researcher for The Netherlands Institute for Social Research. At Erasmus University Rotterdam he held tenured positions at the departments of Sociology, Public Management, and History and Arts. He was a fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of the Arts and Sciences and held visiting positions at Yale University and Manchester University.
Between 2009 and 2015 Hans Blokland was International Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin teaching in sociology, political science, research design and methods, and philosophy of science. In 2012 he was also appointed on the Corelio-Chair for Media and Democracy at the Free University Brussels. And in 2013 he was appointed on the Alfred Grosser-Chair in sociology of the SciencesPo in France.
A characteristic of Blokland’s work is that he seeks to bring together what erroneously has become more and more separated: social and political philosophy on the one hand, and social and political science on the other hand. This separation habitually has led to philosophies without empirical support and empirical relevance, and to sciences ignorant of fundamental social and political questions and issues, and ignorant of its own epistemological and normative assumptions. Related to this, his work is more problem-driven than has become common in social and political science and philosophy.
Consequently, both in his teachings and research Blokland has increasingly devoted attention to what Charles Lindblom called “Usable Knowledge”. Building on the growing uneasiness within the social and political sciences about the way these disciplines have developed in the last half century, he analyzes the epistemological possibilities and limits of these disciplines, and the characteristics of successful contributions or interventions of social and political science and philosophy in the public discourse and the public decision-making processes. On top of that he explores under the influence of which social and cultural factors and epistemological ideas and assumptions – implicit and explicit, conscious and unconscious – these disciplines continue to operate and develop in ways which according to many too often lead to irrelevancy and meaninglessness.
Nils Wadt is co-founder of Social Science Works. Nils finished his Bachelor degree in Sociology and Political Science in Cologne and Frankfurt. Both schools are grounded in different research traditions, Frankfurt with a strong background in Critical Theory (Horkheimer & Adorno, Frankfurter Schule) and Cologne with a strong background in empirical research and methodology (René König, Kölner Schule). Nils currently completes his graduate degree in Social Science at Humboldt University Berlin integrating the different academic backgrounds.
Besides his studies, Nils Wadt worked at Chairs of Sociology, Political Theory, Psychology and Economics, gaining insights into the different research practices and epistemological groundings.
His Bachelor thesis focused on the question of how the practice of entrepreneurship can be explained by an ‘entrepreneurial tool kit’, bringing together sociological and economic knowledge. Entrepreneurship has continued to be a principal interest in Nils’ studies. Within his work and studies in the academy, Nils Wadt apprehended the problems, contemporary social science is facing. This includes not only the separation between empirical research practice and the evaluation of its epistemological assumptions, but also the growing irrelevancy of academic research to civil society. His commitment to the project of Social Science Works is grounded in this apprehension.
Sarah Coughlan MA
Sarah Coughlan is co-founder of Social Science Works. She earned her MA at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in 2014 where her thesis looked at educational inequality and the policy discourse that surrounds the debate. During her MA she worked on issues relating to housing and social policy as well as the question of ‘usable knowledge’ and the role of social science in the wider world. Before coming to the HU in 2012, she studied European Social and Political Studies at University College London where she specialized political philosophy and Italian, and spent a year studying in Rome. Her primary interests at Social Science Works are education, housing and social issues and the misuse of research that empowers poor policy, particularly in her native Britain; she is interested above all else in inequality in all its forms. Her motivation in joining Social Science Works stems from frustration in the academy’s inability to make any meaningful inroads into society’s biggest issues and resistance to anything that attempts to go beyond incremental change.
Patrick Sullivan is a 2018 Master of Public Policy candidate at the Hertie School of Governance. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the United States, he has Bachelor’s degrees in Economics, Secondary Education, Political Science and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and participated in an exchange semester at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy during his time as an undergraduate. He credits his time abroad for making him a more empathetic, curious, and worldly person. Following his Bachelor’s, he taught courses in Economics, Government, and History –and coached American Football and Golf- in the Shorewood School District in Milwaukee. The areas of study that he is particularly passionate about include wealth and income inequality, behavioral economics, and American politics.