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Volkswagen Foundation Symposium for Breakthroughs in Social Sciences and Humanities

Volkswagen Foundation, Falling Walls Foundation | Ulrike Felt, Serena Parekh, Nikita Sud, Sheila Jasanoff, Sushrut Jadhav, Sunil Amrith, Racha Kirakosian

In cooperation with our partners, Falling Walls is hosting this unique format to connect researchers in the social sciences and humanities from all over the world. The symposium gathers the 2022 Winners in the Social Sciences and Humanities category as well as experts and early-career researchers to discuss the most pressing issues and recent breakthroughs in sociology, cultural studies, and humanities.

The event is cohosted by our partners Volkswagen Foundation and WZB Berlin Social Science Center.

About the Venue
Radialsystem – Studio C
Holzmarktstraße 33, 10243 Berlin
Berlin, 10243

Ulrike Felt

University of Vienna

Ulrike Felt is Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University of Vienna, Austria. Holding a PhD in physics and a second degree (habilitation) in the social sciences, Felt is addressing pressing issues at the intersections of science, innovation and society. Her research critically examines contemporary lives in knowledge/innovation societies, changing research cultures as well as the multiple engagements of societal actors with developments in science and technology. As STS scholar, she is author/co-author of numerous books and edited volumes and has published more than 120 articles and chapters. She is currently finishing a book on the politics of time in academic research. Felt has also recently been awarded an ERC grant to investigate how contemporary societies address and care for the left-behinds created by innovations, pointing to the urgency of rethinking our relation to innovation in the name of protecting our environmental futures.

Serena Parekh

Northeastern University, Boston

Serena Parekh is a Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern University in Boston, where she is chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. She is the author of three books, including her most recent book, No Refuge: Ethics and the Global Refugee Crisis (Oxford 2020), which won the North American Society for Social Philosophy Book Award, the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award and was a finalist for the PROSE award for Philosophy from the Association of American Publishers. Her other books include Refugees and the Ethics of Forced Displacement (Routledge in 2017) and Hannah Arendt and the Challenge of Modernity: A Phenomenology of Human Rights (Routledge 2008), which was translated into Chinese. Her primary philosophical interests are in social and political philosophy, feminist theory, and continental philosophy. She has also published numerous articles on social and political philosophy in Hypatia, Philosophy and Social Criticism, and Human Rights Quarterly.

Nikita Sud is Professor of the Politics of Development at the University of Oxford. She is Governing Body Fellow and Vicegerent of Wolfson College, and a faculty member of the Oxford Department of International Development. She is an inter-disciplinary scholar, educated at the Universities of Delhi and Oxford. Nikita’s research centres on the making of the state, space, and nature in the Global South, with a particular focus on Asia. Her latest book is The Making of Land and The Making of India, published by Oxford University Press in 2021. Her current research investigates nature in green energy transitions in South, South East and East Asia. Nikita lives in Oxford with her husband, and two very energetic children.

Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. A pioneer in her field, she has authored more than 130 articles and chapters and is author or editor of more than 15 books, including The Fifth Branch, Science at the Bar, Designs on Nature, The Ethics of Invention, and Can Science Make Sense of Life? Her work explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies. She founded and directs the STS Program at Harvard; previously, she was founding chair of the STS Department at Cornell. She has held distinguished visiting appointments at leading universities in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US.

Jasanoff served on the AAAS Board of Directors and as President of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Her honors include, most recently, the 2022 Holberg Prize – dubbed the Nobel prize for social science and humanities – for her extensive contributions to the field of science and technology studies. She is also the recipient of the SSRC’s Hirschman prize, the Humboldt Foundation’s Reimar-Lüst award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ehrenkreuz from the Government of Austria, and foreign memberships in the British Academy and the Royal Danish Academy. She holds AB, JD, and PhD degrees from Harvard, and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Twente and Liège.

Sushrut Jadhav

University College London

A street psychiatrist and clinician anthropologist in London, UK, Dr Sushrut Jadhav works as a Professor of Cultural Psychiatry, University College London; Consultant Psychiatrist, Camden Homeless-ed Outreach Services & Islington Mental Health Services and Lead Clinician, Cultural Consultation Service, Camden and Islington NHS Trust, London. He is the Founding Editor & Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Anthropology and Medicine. Dr Jadhav’s current interests include cultural and mental health dimensions of marginalised groups with a focus on South Asia. He has pioneered a political psychological therapeutic intervention for caste identity distress, premised on liberation psychologies.

Sunil Amrith is the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University, He is the author of four books, including Unruly Waters (2018) and Crossing the Bay of Bengal (2013). His work connects environmental history with the history of migration, with a focus on South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Amrith is the receipient of the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities, a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, and the 2022 A.H. Heineken Prize for History. He is currently writing The Ruins of Freedom: An Environmental History of the Modern World. Sunil Amrith grew up in Singapore, studied at the University of Cambridge, and has taught at Birkbeck College, University of London, and at Harvard University.

Racha Kirakosian

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Racha Kirakosian is Professor of Medieval German at the University of Freiburg. She previously held posts at Harvard University and the University of Oxford. A scholar of historical text, medieval spirituality, and history of Christianity, she is the author of Die Vita der Christina von Hane (2017), The Life of Christina of Hane (2020), and From the Material to the Mystical in Late Medieval Piety (2021).

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