QUAERE 2019 (vol. IX.)  |  Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference for PhD students and assistants  |  Jun 24, 2019 - Jun 28, 2019

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Jun 24, 2019 - Jun 28, 2019 | The Czech Republic
Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference for PhD students and assistants | Scientific Conference

introductory word

Interdisciplinary scientific conferences, such as the Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference for PhD Students and Assistants QUAERE, offer space for sharing those very basic principles any science should develop from. Let us recall, therefore, the academic freedom that is so closely linked with the right to doubt and the right of independence. The academic freedom generally includes the freedom of scientific investigation and artistic creation, including the freedom of publishing the results, the freedom to teach various scientific opinions and artistic trends and the freedom to choose which of them should be studied. These principles of the so-called academic freedom are frequently expressed in the fundamental academic documents, such as the foundation charters of universities. Academic freedoms are also often stipulated in the laws of the country. Real situation in the contemporary world is increasingly distant from these ideals of academic freedom, though. It should be important, every now and then, for each researcher to evaluate the contemporary situation, identify the causes and the resulting risks and attempt to estimate the future. It also depends on each participant's decision whether, and to what extent, to help strengthen the gradually disappearing academic freedoms.

The Right to Doubt and the Right of Independence

Today, when we doubt about the correctness of our society's development direction, we should also contemplate the correctness of the science's development direction. The science of the Euro-Atlantic space has doubted many times in the past. Let's mention, for instance, the recollections of Richard Feynman, the Physics Nobel Prize Laureate, describing his deep deliberations about the correctness of his research work direction at the time when he participated in the first nuclear bomb creation. A development of any scientific branch is guaranteed by the possibility of its paradigm modification and any change in paradigm is, naturally, conditioned by doubt. Lack of doubt results in rigidity, routine work and slow scientific progress. You can see uniformity in the style of thinking virtually all over the scientific world today. Opinions qualitatively distinct from the mainstream, which could result in the paradigm modification, are mostly impossible to publish or very difficult to publish. It is usually also possible to study only those topics for which there are magazines with impact factors. But what about emerging sciences, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary researches and thoughts which do not comply with the contemporary paradigms, including all types of synthetic work? This is the silent part of the human potential. Despite the fact that independence is the declared ideal of scientific work, it is possible to claim that complete independence is virtually impossible to achieve. It is alarming that the last several decades have seen deepening dependence of science on financial, industrial and political sectors. The central power and its leading ideology decide, who shall teach what, including the intensity of the teaching, in virtually every scientific discipline. It logically ensues that this situation strongly influences the origination, persistence and demise of the individual branches of science, including their paradigms.

Competition Critique

Researchers concentrated in many, and possibly in all branches of science do not doubt the fundamental purpose of their branches, the social, environmental and moral impacts of their sciences. Why? Because the decisive players are fully in tow of the neoliberal ideology, or, putting it more comprehensibly, they believe in materialism and its emphasis on the significance of consumption; they believe in the importance of competition and do not believe in the significance of equality. Competition prioritization - preference for project-based financing in contrast to institutional financing - has been the tool that has changed the whole academic world in the course of the past several decades. Competition is in direct contrast to the aboriginal style of investigative work, which has been, and I hope that it still mostly is, focused on cooperation and mutual respect among the members of the community. Competition erodes respect among people, erodes respect for age and eliminates intergenerational transfer of information. Competition and the resulting potential failure (every winner leaves behind some losers) lowers the quality of life of all the participants. Scientists tend to perceive themselves in the existing competitive system as tools for money acquisition, as tools for success acquisition. The room for deep concentration on the research subject-matter itself has been disappearing. Scientists are stressed virtually every moment of their professional lives and they suffer from many stress-related diseases. Suicides have been the extreme cases related to subjectively increased failure perceptions. Besides, many young scientists remain childless or have fewer children than they would have wished. This results in the decline in the number of people talented for spiritual work in each subsequent generation. The competition-supporting environment also results in the situation that scientists don't have either time or energy to sufficiently think about the political, social and other contexts and to be socially or politically active. The most significant risk of the contemporary science consists in the fact, though, that the leaders have failed to realize that the main goal of science should move away from "science should help increase production" to "science should help change the style of our lives towards consumption decrease".

How to Improve the Science Leadership and Management

Just like virtually everything in our society, also the contemporary science is managed by economists, politicians, international economic groups and people believing in materialistic (neoliberal) ideals. Only few of them think about sustainability, impossibility of continual economic growth and the related topics. And since we live at the time of the real turning point in the lifestyle caused by the world economic crisis, which has been going on for six years and increasing numbers of experts have ceased to believe that it is ever going to end, it would be great to see that this fact has been noted also by the leaders of our science. It is obvious that people who are supposed to make wise decisions in the field of science should be well informed about the state and means of utilization of planetary resources and about the estimates of their future use development. To be able to make wise decisions they should have decent knowledge in the field of natural, social and technical sciences and they should pay some attention also to history and social anthropology. They should be more idealistic then current leaders usually are, yet also more realistic. Talents for synthetic methods of thinking could help them continuously think at the planetary scale and plan for several decades, at least.

Is it possible to shift the current means of science leadership towards a decisively wiser one?

In my opinion any quick changes are virtually impossible. Science management is far too much linked with the consumer way of life, which is oriented towards economic growth. This implies that humanity takes advantage of its potential for spiritual work not too wisely, efficiently and suitably. Maybe some day in the future the world leaders shall start talking about the meaning of respect for nature, about the meaning of cooperation, modesty and prudence. While waiting for such a day every one of us can, at least once a day, try to change something small, something that will contribute to the sustainability of science, scientists and, of course, the planet.

RNDr. Zdeňka Petáková, the author of the book O smyslu vědy (About the Meaning of Science)
full text available here (PDF, 1,1 MB)

about conference





proceedings

The best papers will be published in scientific journals:





conference scope

Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference QUAERE 2019 (vol. IX.) is going to be a traditional meeting of PhD students. The Conference is organized with 8 topics:

1. Management, marketing
2. Economy, Banking, Insurance Management
3. Public Administration, Macroprocesses
4. Natural Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, Medicine
5. Psychology, Sociology, Pedagogy
6. Informatics
7. Technologies, Engineering, Building Industry
8. Philosophy, History, Law

The conference and the outcomes of PhD work should follow the Memorandum of Scientific Integrity, ALLEA | European Federation of National Academie of Science and Humanities.

Join the Conference! You are invited!


QUAERE


registration