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Science Café

Photo: Clemens Volkmann

The Science Café at the Research Academy Leipzig allows for academic exchange in an informal and comfortable atmosphere and offers interested parties access to academic discourse. Science Café hosts are Leibniz professors or Leibniz guests, who discuss an interdisciplinary topic with colleagues and guests.

The public is cordially invited to participate in this interdisciplinary dialogue.

2019: Geoengineering – Can we save the climate by tinkering the climate?

So far international agreements to combat climate change have not been very successful and the danger is that international action will be too little and too late. A possible solution in such an emergency situation is “Geo-engineering”, by which the Earth’s radiation balance is artificially modified. It might cool the climate on a world scale, but there will be effects on other climatic and weather conditions as well. Unforeseen side-effects might show up once we use this technology on a large scale. At the science café an international and interdisciplinary panel of experts will discuss if Geo-engineering is feasible, likely and desirable as a way to save the climate.

Discussants will be:

  • Prof. PhD Juan Moreno-Cruz (University of Waterloo, Canada)
  • Dr. Wilfried Rickels (Institute for the World Economy Kiel)
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Quaas (iDiv Halle-Jena-Leipzig)
  • Prof. Dr. Johannes Quaas (Leipzig University)
  • Prof. Dr. Sjak Smulders (Tilburg University, Netherlands / Leibniz Professor)


The event is scheduled for March 18, 2019, at 8 pm, at Café Alibi (Bibliotheca Albertina, Beethovenstrasse 6, ground floor west wing).

Invited are all interested persons, a pre-registration is not required. The discussion will be conducted in English.

Past Events

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Ingolf U. Dalferth - 23 January 2018

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Ingolf U. Dalferth - 23 January 2018

Human dignity - guard rail or obstacle to research?

Research does not take place in a legal vacuum. In Germany, this is largely determined by the orientation towards human dignity, which is inviolable according to Article 1 of the German Basic Law. This legal situation does not apply in all countries. Again and again problems arise because research projects can be carried out elsewhere that cannot be implemented here in Germany.

Participants discussed the understanding of human dignity and its impact on human research. Panelists were:

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Vincenzo de Risi - 10 March 2017

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Vincenzo de Risi - 10 March 2017

Photo: Clemens Volkmann

Leibniz and the Universality of Reason

The Science Café with our Leibniz-Professor Vincenzo de Risi and his guests Prof. Dr. Michael Kempe (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek Hannover) and Prof. Dr. Eberhard Knobloch (TU Berlin) took place on March, 10 2017 at the Café Gloria. They discussed the following topic:

The notion of the universal reason was theoretically grounded on several claims of Leibniz’s philosophy, such as that the common essence of all substances (monads) is reason. Such a claim also grounded many intellectual projects in Leibniz’s life, as the possibility of a characteristica universalis and his studies on mathematics, logic and language, and was embodied in various activities of Leibniz's political life: from the attempt at a reunification of the Churches, to the foundation of academies of science and the fostering of the circulation of knowledge. We would like to explore how all these different aspects may come together to form a distinctive rationalist trend toward the age of Enlightenment.

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. James Conant - 28 January 2016

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. James Conant - 28 January 2016

Photo: Clemens Volkmann

In January 2016, James Conant, Professor at the University of Chicago and Leibniz guest professor welcomed numerous guests to the Science Café, held at the Café Gloria. Under the title "Autonomy of the Humanities and the Self-Determining Form," Professor Conant together with Professor Sebastian Rödl (Institute for Philosophy) and Professor Dirk Oschmann (Institute of German Studies) discussed the question of the humanities as a distinct and autonomous form of knowledge, study, and teaching.

Within the framework of the humanities, scholars have increasingly raised the question about the validity of the ascendancy of natural scientific methods within the humanities. Methods such as experimental philosophy, neuroaesthetics, evolutionary theories of morality, or even “distant reading” are examples of this development. During the discussion, the twofold question as to whether and why the humanities should be regarded as a distinct and irreducible form of academic inquiry was debated.

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. John Wilson - 8 July 2015

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. John Wilson - 8 July 2015

Photo: Clemens Volkmann

Professor John Wilson from the University of Oxford and Leibniz professor for summer semester 2015 was invited to the Science Café, held at Café Alibi at the Leipzig University library on July 8, 2015. Together with Professor Gerhard Heyer (Institute of Computer Science) and Professor Ingolf Max (Institute of Philosophy), he discussed the topic "Can only the law give us freedom?" They also discussed the connection between creative thinking and the legal limitations often placed upon it.

The discussion focused on the question concerning the origin of ideas that lead to a masterpiece in the arts or to a breakthrough in the natural sciences, and to what extent such creative thinking is hindered or made possible by legal restrictions. This multifaceted discussion was also facilitated by practical examples from music and literature.

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Florian Steger - 11 September 2014

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Florian Steger - 11 September 2014

Photo: Clemens Volkmann

Under the title "University quo vadis?", the Leibniz programme invited Leibniz Professor Florian Steger (Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine at the MLU Halle-Wittenberg) to the Café Gloria on September 11, 2014 for this edition of the Science Café. Together with Professor Martin Schlegel (Director of the Leibniz Program) and Vice-Rector for Research and Young Academics Professor Matthias Schwarz, Professor Steger discussed university autonomy in view of entrepreneurial interests, outside influence, and externally funded research.

 

The roughly 90-minute discussion, in which most of the guests also participated, examined the extent to which an entrepreneurial university could be reconciled with the academic task of generating independent knowledge and preparation. In this context, the importance of the interaction between science and society was also discussed. Even after the official discussion ended, the lively exchange continued in smaller groups, where various aspects of the topic were delved into more deeply.

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Robert Roe - 11 March 2014

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Robert Roe - 11 March 2014

Under the title "Freedom in science, a fading ideal?", the Leibniz programme invited Dr. Robert A. Roe, professor at the University of Maastricht and Leibniz Guest Professor for Winter Semester 2013/14 to Café Gloria in March 2014. Together with Professor Gisela Mohr (Work and Organizational Psychology), Professor Sebastian Rödl (Philosophy), Professor Marc Desens (Law), and Vice-Rector for Research and Young Academics Professor Matthias Schwarz, Professor Roe (Work Psychology) discussed the role of academic freedom in modern science.

The discussion dealt with the following questions: Is academic freedom sustainable, given the pressures of publication and third-party research in modern science? Could its preservation actually harm the academic disciplines and/or scientific research? Those in attendance also discussed past personal experiences with reference to academic freedom as well as analysed the necessity of academic freedom and its potential reconfiguration.

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Alois Würger - 15 July 2013

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Alois Würger - 15 July 2013

All interested in discussing "Plan B"  on the topic of " Pulchritudo splendor veritatis or does science need to be useful" were invited to meet with Leibniz Professor Alois Würger and guests Professor Frank Cichos, Professor Roger Gläser and Professor Klaus Kroy on July 15, 2013 for this session of the Science Café.

Werner Heisenberg, one of the founders of quantum theory, recognized beauty as an important impetus in the search for truth. Heisenberg compared the progress of science with the construction of a medieval cathedral, when "builders and craftsmen [were] filled with the idea of ​​beauty".

This glow has faded. Today, third party funding, rather than the pursuit of beauty is the driving force behind research. In addition, Society makes different demands of science than it once did. It has become subject to cost-benefit analysis and its results are sometimes perceived as a threat to society rather than as truth.

During the debate, in which roughly thirty doctoral researchers and other interested parties engaged, two questions arose: First, what does natural science accomplish for society and to what extent does it fulfill social expectations? And second, what, if anything, remains of Heisenberg's pursuit of beauty? Or has science become merely a service industry?

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Sahr - 10 June 2013

Science Café with Leibniz-Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Sahr - 10 June 2013

The Territory of Sound between Heaven and Earth: A Trialogue between Theology, Music and Social Geography

In today’s mass society music is increasingly event and ambience. Yet, prior to the beginning of the twentieth century, it was an intellectual contribution, in which social relations were reflected in the language of sound. Over the centuries the relationship between society, music and religion has changed. The evolution of the combination space-music-society was the topic of the exploratory discussion – with sound examples – between the musicologist Prof Helmut Loos, the theologian Prof Christian Lehnert and the social geographer Prof Wolf-Dietrich Sahr.

The focal point of discussion was the topic: Caesura during Times of Upheaval: The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach. In Bach’s music, the individuality of the aria encounters the collectivism of the chorus and the dramatic textual employment meets with meditative sound configuration – all forms of the societal space-time constellation. Although the theoretical discussion in the interdisciplinary setting addressed the past – contrasting with the baroque – it also looked at postmodern space-time constellations.