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Annual Conference for the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change and the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences
The 4th Annual Conference for the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change and the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences, University of Helsinki.
Time: 24-25 October 2017
Venue: Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40
“Beyond Truth and Falsity?”
The Social Sciences in an Age of Uncertainty
Today, researchers are faced with a growing scepticism concerning the value of scientific knowledge and the authority of expertise, suspicions increasingly stemming from external sources such as populist politics and antagonistic media. For social sciences, this trend not only poses a potential crisis of legitimacy but also provides an object of investigation in itself.
In this fourth annual graduate conference, we especially invite proposals that address evolving challenges for the production, justification, and public dissemination of social-scientific knowledge and criticism. We welcome papers that deal with the societal and intellectual developments behind the current predicament, contributions that elucidate how the problems in question may affect individual disciplines, and new openings that strive to articulate plausible paths forward for social inquiry under conditions of amplified uncertainty.
Suitable topics for discussion include the status of social-scientific knowledge in the so-called “post-truth era” and other epistemic issues facing the social sciences today:
- How should social inquiry deal with increasing fragmentation and pluralism?
- Can we still find some common ground in research and public life? Or should we engage in the serious investigation and establishing of plural grounds for social research?
- How does the alleged “data boom” affect social inquiry? What constitutes data in different kinds of social research, and by what means should it be interpreted?
- How can we analyse and address uncertainties in an age of uncertainty?
Contributors can also address long-running but still highly pertinent questions concerning the aims and methods of social research:
- Are the social sciences primarily objective and truth-seeking enterprises, or does their legitimation stand on a different basis?
- Should social inquiry embrace advocacy and political activism? How do social scientists engage in their communities? Should we actively challenge academic ivory towers?
- How should we deal with regional differences and inequalities, and the tension between promotion of diversity and pursuits of global justice?
- Do we need new conceptions of social research and its methods to respond to contemporary quandaries, or should we rather defend and improve the time-honoured tools of the trade?
Other topics of interest include emerging challenges for the ethics of social research and questions pertaining to popularisation and the broader public accessibility of social-scientific knowledge.
The event will bring together PhD candidates, PhD supervisors, and junior and senior-level researchers from different social-scientific oriented disciplines. The conference consists of plenary sessions as well as workshops in which doctoral candidates have the opportunity to present their papers and receive feedback from peers, colleagues, professors, and experts in their fields. We warmly welcome doctoral candidates to present their research at the conference.
Getting to Denmark - An application in empirical development history
When taught: 9. - 11.10.2017
Type of course: Short doctoral training course
Responsible PI: Associate Professor Sakari Saaritsa
Teacher of the course: Professor Paul Sharp
-To understand the role of agriculture for economic development, with a particular focus on the Danish case
-To be able to relate the Danish development case to those of other countries
-To understand contemporary debates regarding agriculture and cooperation for developing countries
-An ability to describe the Danish development case
-An ability to describe the role of agriculture for economic development
-An ability to relate the Danish case to other historical development cases
-An ability to relate the Danish case to contemporary debates regarding agriculture and cooperation for developing countries
In a half-hearted manner, Francis Fukuyama has described the issue facing developing countries as the problem of getting to Denmark, the metaphor of a society characterized by wealth, rule of law, good governance and related virtures. What could serious economic, social and political history teach us about this problem? This intensive course mobilises the arsenal of empirical historical research from archival work to statistical techniques to explore Danish and European history from a development perspective, based on latest research looking at themes like elite formation and agrarian development.
1: Introduction (includes a theoretical background for the case)
2: The economic and political context for Danish agricultural development, ca. 1660-1850
3: The agricultural reforms, 1750s-1800s
4: The Spread of the Holstein System
5: From Bulls**t to Butter: Accounting and Production Decisions
6: Science, Innovation and the Dissemination of Knowledge
7: How the Danes Discovered Britain
8: Industrial and Trade Policy
9: The Spread of Modern Dairying beyond the Estates: the Rise of the Cooperatives
10: Agriculture, industry, and modern economic growth in Denmark
11: Lessons from the Danish Agricultural Revolution for Developing Countries
Land Politics, Agrarian Movements, and Scholar-Activism
When taught: 13-14 February 2018
Type of course: Short doctoral training course
Responsible PI: Professor Barry Gills
Teacher of the course: Professor Saturnino Borras
Aims: To present recent work on agrarian movements and land politics and the role of scholar-activists networks.
Students will have learned new aspects of methods, tactics and strategy of academic work, and gain new insights into agrarian politics and agrarian movements.
This course examines the recent changes in global land politics and agrarian movements and the activists and academics that mobilize around and study these issues.
There are several arguments, or propositions for discussion:
1. Land politics today are more diverse than at other points during the past century;
2. The changing character of land politics has shaped the broadening social movements that mobilize around land issues: some agrarian movements have transformed into environmental and climate justice movements as well as food sovereignty movements --or have moved on towards alliance-building (objective or subjective) with environmental and climate justice as well as food sovereignty movements;
3. During the past three decades, the transnationalization of agrarian movements has been one of the most significant shifts in agrarian politics,
4. The changes in land politics and agrarian movements in light of the changing global context have ushered in a new period and inspired a new generation of agrarian scholar-activists.
By scholar-activism, I mean, rigorous academic work that aims to change the world, or committed activist work that is informed by rigorous academic research, which is explicitly and unapologetically connected to political projects or movements.
There are three types of scholar-activists in this broad sense:
(1) scholar-activists who are primarily located in academic institutions who do activist work and are connected to a political project or movement(s);
(2) scholar-activists who are principally based in social movements or a political project and do scholar-activism from within; and
(3) scholar-activists who are mainly located in non-academic independent research institutions who do activist work and connect with a political project or movement(s).
The changes on the agrarian front have also altered the character and reshaped the agenda of scholar-activism, as well as the style, methods, strategy and tactics of work. It is thus important to have a better understanding of contemporary scholar-activists in general. However, we must not see agrarian scholar activists as a stand-alone category, but in relationship to their institutional location and in the context of their interaction with other scholars and activists, to highlight the tensions, synergies, limits, and possibilities for agrarian scholar-activism. I conclude by putting forward a proposition for discussion around the idea of an ‘agrarian scholar-activist research movement.’