Knowledge environments. Some methodological considerations
There exists broad consensus that science has a history. But does science also have a geography? Was science not supposed to be placeless? In recent years scholars have pointed out that the generation and diffusion of scientific knowledge is influenced by local knowledge environments and spatial relations, that scientific practices vary in different places, that universities are not simply locations but social spaces, epistemic venues, and knots of scientific networks with differing degrees of resources, authority, and reputation.
Talent, motivation, and wealth of ideas are not the only characteristics determining how successfully a scholar“s research and academic career develop. A number of external factors come to bear as well, such as material and nonmaterial resources; the availability of research infrastructure; institutional regulations; formal organizational structures; integration in international networks; and not least the experiences, scientific stimuli, and critique of other scholars active at the same site. A university”s knowledge environment is definable as the result of systematic interdependencies and causal interactions relevant for the generation and diffusion of scientific knowledge.
In my paper I address four questions: What elements make up a local knowledge environment? How can a local knowledge environment affect learning and research processes? How can an explanation of a knowledge environment's impact avoid the trap of determinism? How can we measure the impact of a knowledge environment.