Knowledge Federation Can Transform Academic Research

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Changes made possible

  • From disciplinary [1] to transdisciplinary [2] or post-disciplinary organization of academic work [3].
  • From ignoring the media to using them to implement key academic roles [3].


  1. Under the title “Freedom of Knowledge,” Janez Potočnik, European commissioner for the environment, and former commissioner for science and research, writes in the March 24, 2011 issue of Seed, On the Freedom of Knowledge:
    We know the challenges our societies are facing. We are in the midst of quite an extraordinary phenomenon: the emergence of a nearly worldwide consensus that our planet needs to be redesigned in an ecological, demographical, economical, and, most of all, sustainable way. A response the EU is developing is to add the “Fifth Freedom” — freedom of knowledge; ere knowledge, researchers, and technology can move freely across frontiers, to wherever they can best be used and create the most value) to the existing EU’s other four freedoms (the free flow of people, goods, services, and money): In Europe we faced a similar change when our societies moved from an agrarian to an industrial model. Today we are facing a change that is no less intense: from an industrial society to a sustainable one built on knowledge. The first period of change was called a Renaissance, based fundamentally on rationality and creativity—both pillars of scientific thinking, as drivers for change. So our redesign might be called a “New Renaissance,” because what we face is more than just a cosmetic rebranding. We are not just rebooting but reforming our way of life.

    And to contribute to such a New Renaissance I think the world science ecosystem must evolve toward a “Global Research Area” where the Fifth Freedom becomes a universal freedom. This global initiative will be driven by the societal need to address the “Grand Challenges.” It will become embedded in the policymaking, compelling policymakers to default to the use of science for inspiration.
  2. Besarab Nicolescu's Transdisciplinarity — Past, Present and Future renders a vision of present academic condition and future that motivates also the related work in Knowledge Federation; the value proposition/profile of Knowledge Federation is that it enables the development of socio-technical infrastructure suitable for transdisciplinary academic work. This may foster an academic (hence also general) culture capable of creating meaning and contextualizing action. Here A and B in knowledge federation schema may be disciplinary views on a cergtain subject, F a common, general view, and C a new view contributed online, supporting or challenging F.
  3. Here of course knowledge federation appears in the role of a 'post-discipline' — a flexible organization of knowledge workers from relevant professions and other sake holders, formed to handle a specific task or issue. This enables re-focusing of human and other resources to new issues, in particular the ones of contemporary relevance. 'Knowledge federation' here may be understood as a knowledge-work counterpart to the value chain organization in business or material goods production, which is a flexible, internationally configurable way of organizing production units, enabled by information technology.
  4. Here 'knowledge federation' appears in the role of the knowledge federation discipline — providing the function of academic meta-design (which includes implementing basic academic functions in new media), and Knowledge Federation project and community — enabling socio-technical designs and changes of practice in knowledge work. . Think of knowledge work as implementing the key social function of producing, preserving, selecting and delivering culturally relevant or beneficial memes; think in particular of academia as our society’s trusted and sponsored custodian of memes; think of communication technology as an enormously powerful meme multiplier and amplifier (a device producing, empowering and spreading multiple copies of a meme). By ignoring the possibility of implementing its core functions in the new technology, the academia is risking to abandon this powerful medium to actors that are contrary to its purpose and spirit. By failing to see that the medium truly has become (so important that it now decides the de facto existence of) the message, the academia is risking to make itself irrelevant!

See also

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