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Challenging Times

A Symposium Organized by the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership Looks at the Role of Scientists in Times of Conflict, Fake News, and Polarization

The Oxford Berlin Research Partnership team

The Oxford Berlin Research Partnership team
Image Credit: Michael Fahrig

"I love the word ‘Wissenschaft’ (‘science’ in German). It unites us all: researchers, artists, students, and committed public figures – we all love to create (‘schaffen’) and get creative," Çiğdem İşsever said at the symposium: “Academics in the Public Sphere: Navigating the Political.” A Berliner by choice, she has spent 15 years researching and teaching at Oxford and co-leads the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership with Andrew Hurrell.

The post-doctoral physicist was thus able to give a very personal insight of both cities and their connection at her commencement speech. The event on July 8 and 9, 2022 was jointly organized by the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) and the University of Oxford.

Scientists and experts from Oxford and Berlin met at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin-Mitte. For two days, everything revolved around the challenges that scientists face in the public sphere. How can facts be communicated in times of political polarization? What role do fake news and hate speech play in the multi-voice debates on social media? Panel discussions and short speeches were on the agenda, as well as time for getting to know each other and sharing thoughts.