The Evolution of Knowledge: Rethinking Science for the Anthropocene

The Evolution of Knowledge podcast features various interviews with leading thinkers from multiple disciplines and is realized in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and SISSA—International School for Advanced Studies. Each episode explores the evolution of human knowledge and how our knowledge through the ages can guide us across the dawn of a new epoch: the Anthropocene.


This podcast series includes the following episodes:

1. Farewell to the Holocene

In the first episode MPIWG Director Jürgen Renn and Visiting Scholar Manfred Laubichler discuss their work in trying to understand the structures of cultural evolution and their joint efforts leading to the book The Evolution of Knowledge: Rethinking Science for the Anthropocene by Jürgen Renn.

2. Thinking out loud

This episode focusses on language. Social scientist and linguist Stephen C. Levinson discusses the complex relationship between language and thought, the impact of native language on our cognition, and the consequences of adapting spoken words to the written form.

3. The tools of the trade

In this third episode, Affiliated Scholar Ursula Klein recounts the story of Jacob Berzelius, the inventor of the modern chemical notations, she discusses the revolutionary new opportunities presented by the use of a scientific lingua franca, and the abstract tools still in use in today’s research environment.

4. A brief history of globalizations

Affiliated Scholar Sonja Brentjes and Visiting Scholar Pietro Daniel Omodeo discuss the long history of knowledge transmission in the Mediterranean basin and beyond, touching on the social, cultural and political aspects of such complex processes and their repercussions to the present day.

5. When scientists meet

Historian Maria Diogo and Visiting Scholar Ana Simoes introduce us to the concept of science diplomacy, touching on its emergence and increasing relevance in global society and explaining why political discussions and international relations can’t be separated from the scientific enterprise.

6. Surviving the Anthropocene

In this final episode climatologist Riccarda Winkelmann and Visiting Scholar Giulia Rispoli discuss the present day, the undeniable climate change the planet is undergoing and the different ways scholars have tried to explain humanity’s impact on the environment. With an end word from MPIWG Director Jürgen Renn.



“The Evolution of Knowledge” is a podcast created by SISSA-ILAS and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Written and produced by Diego Visintin, Sophia Grew and Lorenzo Carta. Music by Gregor Quendel