On May 2, 2017, UC Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix was honored to welcome Helga Nowotny, Professor emerita of Science and Technology Studies, ETH Zurich, and a founding member of the European Research Council.
In her presentation, Nowotny discussed the concept of “messiness,” which she wrote in an abstract “is a familiar condition – it forms the background of our daily life and of society. While we normally take it for granted it is also an expression of resilience against disorder that threatens to take over once we face forces beyond our control.”
Nowotny’s lecture focuses on “the temporal and spatial dimensions in which messiness becomes apparent today: broken time lines and fragmented spaces. Messiness is framed by a blurring of the world orderings inherited from modernity. Against the backdrop of rapid computerization and the rise of algorithms we may find ourselves again in a phase of transition towards new ways of world ordering. What would it entail, especially for the social sciences?”
Professor Nowotny holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University, NY. and a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Vienna. She has held teaching and research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Vienna; King’s College, Cambridge; University of Bielefeld; Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin; Ecole des Hautes Etudes an Sciences Sociales, Paris; Science Center for Social Sciences, Berlin; Collegium Budapest; Budapest. Before joining ETH Zurich, Professor Nowotny was Professor for Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna. In 2007 ,she was elected ERC Vice President and from March 2010 until December 2013 President of the ERC. Currently she is Chair of the ERA Council Forum Austria, member of the Austrian Council and Vice-President of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.
Professor Nowotny has published more than 300 articles in scientific journals. Her new book The Cunning of Uncertainty, has been published by Polity Press in October 2015. Her latest book publications include Naked Genes, Reinventing the human in the molecular age, (with Giuseppe Testa), MIT Press, 2011, Insatiable Curiosity, Innovation in a Fragile Future, MIT Press, 2008, and Cultures of Technology and the Quest for Innovation (ed.), New York and London, 2006.