Forcing the impossible project – Avtryck i det okända, is an Åbo Akademi University placed project that unites scientists and artists in exploring how we communicate. We are granted support from Svenska Kulturfonden, Stiftelsen Åbo Akademi.

Excerpt from the research plan (downloadable in English and Swedish to the left):

During the last years, we have been met with increased amounts of statements indicating that people are sceptical towards research and scientific inquiries. The idea that science will save humanity and solve all world problems seems to have lost its hold on human imagination.

Furthermore, the latest COVID-19 situation has shown that an increasing amount of inaccurate information about the pandemic has been spreading across the globe. Simultaneously, the latest barometers on how much people in Finland trust science and research seems to indicate an increase in trust.

One way to understand how so differing statements and reactions can exist simultaneously is to speak about the horizontalisation of knowledge, described by Bengt Kristensson Uggla, in En strävan efter sanning – Vetenskapens teori och praktik (2019). This term indicates that reliability of scientific methods and trusting research to give us knowledge has not decreased. However, an increasing amount of people see themselves as experts on interpreting and giving valuable opinions about the research that is presented.

Alongside this phenomena, individual narratives are taken to be highly valuable – personal experiences can thus be placed side-by- side with years of laboratory work of experts, and thus be stated as an equally important “voice” to consider. The horizontalisation of science leads, according to Kristensson Uggla, to a situation where hierarchical institutions, like knowledge production at Universities, cannot take their position as distributors of scientific claims, for granted.3 Universities, like other societal institutions, need to learn how to both co-operate with different kinds of knowledge mediators and communicate their research findings through new path-ways. This project –
Forcing the Impossible – Avtryck i det Okända – seeks to facilitate and train for both these forms of competence.