Associate Professor Martin Hultman (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden)

Three decades of obstruction. How to analyze, understand and change communication patterns to avoid being stuck in the knowledge-action gap of climate change? 

Since over thirty years back scholars from different disciplines have asked themselves why we don’t act when we know the challenges of our fossil fueled climate change. The answers vary when different types of disciplined research questions are asked and specific theories are to be proven or dismissed. But what happens if we make use of a supradisciplinary method in which the various kinds of disciplinary knowledge are not only to be added to each other, but to fertilize them into new combinations, and new types of research questions are asked? In this presentation specific results from in-depth empirical studies from a supradisciplinary knowledge base done at Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism are presented as well as overarching theoretical developments of how to understand humanities current ecocidal trajectory and suggestions what to do about it.

  • Why don’t we act when the existential danger of climate change has been communicate by scientists for over thirty years? Such are the questions Assoc. Prof. Martin Hultman deals with in his research, praxes and every day life. Hultman is widely published in energy and climate issues especially notable are the articles ‘The Making of an Environmental Hero: A History of Ecomodern Masculinity, Fuel Cells and Arnold Schwarzenegger’ and ‘A green fatwā? Climate change as a threat to the masculinity of industrial modernity’ then the books Discourses of Global Climate Change, Ecological Masculinities and Contending with the (m)Anthropocene. As part of his academic work he publishes chronicles in a wide range of newspapers, gives public lectures on contemporary politics and advice NGO:s as well as governmental agencies. Hultman leads three research groups analyzing ‘gender and energy’, ‘ecopreneurship in circular economies’ and ‘climate change denial’ at Chalmers University of Technology. He is currently writing on a book with the preliminary title Co-Creating Earth Peace. The Paths of Ecopedagogy, Ecological Masculinities and Rights of Nature.


Professor Nina Janich (Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany)

Scientific uncertainties in policy advice – a linguistic perspective

Policymakers quite often need scientific knowledge as a basis for political decisions; climate change or even the Covid19 pandemic are obvious examples. However, science cannot always provide exactly those evidences and facts that policy makers would like to have – research and scientific work are also characterized by non-knowledge, uncertainties and controversies. In particular, the forecasts that policymakers hope for are usually based on models, plausibilities, and probability calculations, which must be handled responsibly accordingly. The talk therefore deals from a linguistic perspective with scientific non-knowledge using the example of scientific policy advice in Germany and the controversies that arise when science in this context abandons its epistemic practice in favor of an overly legitimizing function.

Wissenschaftliche Unsicherheiten in der Politikberatung – eine linguistische Perspektive

Politik benötigt nicht selten wissenschaftliches Wissen als Grundlage für politische Entscheidungen, der Klimawandel oder auch die Covid19-Pandemie sind dafür offensichtliche Beispiele. Die Wissenschaft kann aber nicht immer genau diejenigen Evidenzen und Fakten bieten, die die Politik gerne hätte – Forschung und wissenschaftliches Arbeiten sind auch von Nichtwissen, Unsicherheiten und Kontroversen geprägt. Insbesondere die von der Politik erhofften Prognosen basieren in der Regel auf Modellen, Plausibilitäten und Wahrscheinlichkeitsberechnungen, mit denen entsprechend verantwortungsvoll umzugehen ist. Der Vortrag beschäftigt sich daher aus linguistischer Perspektive mit wissenschaftlichem Nichtwissen am Beispiel der wissenschaftlichen Politikberatung in Deutschland und den Kontroversen, die entstehen, wenn Wissenschaft in diesem Kontext ihre epistemische Praxis zugunsten einer allzu stark legitimatorischen Funktion aufgibt.


Gieryn, Thomas F. (1983): Boundary-work and the demarcation of science from non-science: strains and interests in professional ideologies of scientists. In: American Sociological Review 48.6, 781–795.

Gieryn, Thomas F. (1995): Boundaries of Science. In: Tauber, Alfred I. (ed.): Science and the Quest for Reality. Main Trends of the Modern World. London, 293–332.

Heinelt, Hubert (2019): Challenges to Political Decision-making: Dealing with Information Overload, Ignorance and Contested Knowledge. London.

Janich, Nina/Simmerling, Anne (2015): Linguistics and Ignorance. In: Gross, Matthias/McGoey, Linsey (eds.): Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies. London/New York, 125–137. (2nd edition in print.)

Janich, Nina/Stumpf, Christiane (2018): Verantwortung unter der Bedingung von Unsicherheit – und was KlimawissenschaftlerInnen darunter verstehen. In: Janich, Nina/Rhein, Lisa (eds.): Unsicherheit als Herausforderung für die Wissenschaft. Reflexionen aus Natur-, Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften. Frankfurt am Main u.a., 179–205.

Jasanoff, Sheila/Wynne, Brian (1998): Science and Decision Making. In: Rayner, Steve/Malone, Elizabeth L. (eds.): Human Choices and Climate Change. Vol. 1. Columbia (OH), 1–88.

Shala, Erduana (2015): A new path in foresight validation? Discussing the socio-epistemic underpinning of foresight quality criteria. In: European Journal of Futures Research 3:19. DOI 10.1007/s40309-015-0079-4

  • Dr. Nina Janich is Professor for Applied Linguistics at the Technical University of Darmstadt (since 2004). Her often interdisciplinary research focuses on science communication, language criticism/language culture, text and discourse linguistics, and advertising language. She is a member of the Scientific Society of the University of Frankfurt and of the acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering. Until 2021, she was a member and spokesperson for the language-critical campaign “Unwort des Jahres” (Unword of the Year) for many years.