About Knowledge and Values

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The Knowledge and Values research program was established at The University of Southern Denmark in 2006 and has since been devoted to studying the value and use of knowledge in contemporary society. The program has a philosophical orientation, but is interdisciplinary and hosts projects of a theoretical as well as empirical and practical nature. Members of the program include educational and organizational researchers, linguists and psychologists, and the philosophers involved represent – or work across – a wide range of approaches and traditions.

A research field of immense importance
Knowledge is universally recognized as the driving factor behind the development of contemporary societies. Government policies and business strategies across the globe currently aim to improve the production, distribution and use of knowledge. While the financial crisis may have caused the otherwise very popular notion of a “knowledge society” to go temporarily out of fashion, this has not rendered the issue less pertinent. What has become clear is rather that research, education and creativity are not panaceas; it is not about boosting knowledge production or stimulating creativity indiscriminately, but about getting the right kind of knowledge in the right place. In short, we need more knowledge about knowledge: knowledge about the conditions and nature of various forms of knowledge, and about how they interact with each other and with more or less related factors and abilities, like understanding, competences, skills, creativity and interests. We need to know more about how different social arrangements can further or hamper the production, propagation and use of knowledge.

Some of the most pressing and debated problems of contemporary society are problems of knowledge: How do we identify the relevant expertise, and its legitimate role and limitations, on matters like economy, climate change, health, welfare, education or research funding? When do we need theoretical knowledge, abstract concepts and metacognition, or hands-on experience, in various kinds of education, training and professional practice? What is the optimal balance between openness, privacy and secrecy, individual and collaborative knowledge-seeking or centrally directed projects and spontaneous endeavors? How can professionals or scientists from different backgrounds, with different standards, methods and concepts, come to collaborate efficiently?

Thematic priorities

The projects under the program are concerned with issues likeKnowledge

  • The relationship between knowledge and practical values, interests, skills and procedures
  • The nature and role of expertise and other kinds of epistemic and cognitive excellence (how to define, identify, foster and use expertise, understanding, sense of judgment, creativity, ingenuity etc.)
  • The interplay between social settings and knowledge production, from group dynamics to the organization of the scientific community) or the flow of information in society at large.