Science in pentagonal format
The University of Konstanz, the University of Konstanz Society (UGK), the Hochschule Konstanz University of Applied Sciences (HTWG) and the city of Konstanz begin a joint project in science communication.
Gießberg hill, home of the University of Konstanz, is no ivory tower. The university prides itself on its tradition as a reform university and has never wanted to become such an isolated or even elite place. From the start, the university has cultivated lively exchange with society as a whole and the city of Konstanz and the Lake Constance region in particular. The university has been promoting active discussions through its wide range of dialogue and event formats that take place in Konstanz while acting as a force for innovation and impacting cultural life in the greater Konstanz area.
In keeping with this long tradition of participation in and dialogue on scientific topics, this new collaborative project reaches out to Konstanz’s residents using the joint resources of the university, the University of Konstanz Society (UGK), the HTWG and the city of Konstanz. The project with the working name “Wissenskubus” (or “knowledge cube”) will bring a piece of the university to different parts of the city using a mobile exhibition installation.
Mögliche Standorte der Fünfecke
The idea originated in the steering committee of the University of Konstanz Society (UGK). After the UGK had supported the construction of the new reading room in the University of Konstanz’s library, it wanted the new project to out to the broader public in Konstanz and the surrounding area:
“Our goal in funding the reading room was to demonstrate our support for the university itself. Our next larger project, however, will pursue the goal of presenting to Konstanz locals and visitors alike the fascinating and socially relevant topics researched and taught at the University of Konstanz”,
explains Björn Graf Bernadotte, President of the University of Konstanz Society. The initial idea was to create an exhibition pavilion, perhaps even one you could walk in to, that would explain current research priorities in Konstanz in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand.
The idea quickly won over friends and advocates
The communications teams at the university and the HTWG developed a list of requirements for the “Wissenskubus” that were used by Professor Schlag in a seminar in the winter semester of 2017/2018. Students worked in small groups and created impressively professional and creative concepts and models. A favourite was chosen unanimously: the vision of an all-woman team consisting of four future architects and a communications designer. The winning concept, entitled “5x5”, was developed by Carla Weiland, Stella Kappeler, Carolin Hensolt, Stefanie Kleiser and Lisa Debus. The title referred to both the five-person team and the physical shape of their idea: Five pentagons constructed out of aluminium surround a modular bench made of high-quality, weather-resistant wood.
It is especially important for scientists to employ trustworthy, reliable science communication if they are to compete successfully against “alternative facts” and “fake news”. The truth is, that pioneering new research findings are rarely only a success story. For this reason, we consider it equally valuable to find out about scientific debate, controversial opinions or even setbacks that line the path to discovery. This is what the university strives to communicate using the current “Wissenskubus” project.The city of Konstanz can highlight its attractiveness as a place to research and study by displaying its home-grown science in pentagonal format. The message is clear, when, during the summer, visitors to Konstanz’s harbourfront are invited to explore current and socially relevant issues that are in the focus of the local universities: Not only can students earn their sailing certificate, but they can also gain a top education at this university location between lakeside and mountaintops.It is especially important for scientists to employ trustworthy, reliable science communication if they are to compete successfully against “alternative facts” and “fake news”. The truth is, that pioneering new research findings are rarely only a success story. For this reason, we consider it equally valuable to find out about scientific debate, controversial opinions or even setbacks that line the path to discovery. This is what the university strives to communicate using the current “Wissenskubus” project.
The pentagons are positioned so that the space between them is demonstrably open. They include flatscreens and interactive elements visualizing different current topics and content from the university and the HTWG’s portfolios. “We wanted to create a place that fits in well with its surroundings and invites passersby to explore it”, says the “5x5” team. Visitors can rest on the bench and take in the surrounding nature, city life or panoramic view, (depending on the current location), while also having the opportunity to dive into the world of science and research. Whether they take a quick glance or plumb the depths, visitors decide for themselves.
Providing the opportunity to inform yourself directly and at your own pace is a decisive part of science communication at the University of Konstanz. “Our goal is not just to report on aspects of the university or to market its successes - the focus is placed instead on the topics and content themselves as well as the stories they tell”, says University of Konstanz Press Officer Julia Wandt. The goals for this special project “Wissenskubus”, inspiring visitors, fascinating them and strengthening their confidence in science, also guide the university’s overall science communication efforts.
Open doors and supporting networks in the field of science