The Anthropocene as a contemporary challenge demands a new form of engagement, also for the history of science. The profession cannot stop at mere historical analysis but has the opportunity, if not duty, to use its insights and reflexive potential to productively engage with knowledge production as it is formed. A reorientation of the current knowledge economy towards global responsibility, including a greater integration of local perspectives and new ways of combining problem-oriented research with teaching and learning inside and outside of academia is necessary. Following the principle of such a “history of science in action,” a co-evolutionary model approach to knowledge formation, is put into practice in a long-term research project that the department is undertaking with its cooperation partner Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW).
The Anthropocene Curriculum is an initiative by MPIWG and HKW that explores pathways towards a novel transdisciplinary culture of knowledge production and education that is adequate to the predicaments of the Anthropocene. The project asks how knowledge production can be attuned to transdisciplinary and translocal methodologies that link insights of the natural and humanist sciences with other knowledge forms and practices. The model format that has been created in this process is the Anthropocene Campus, an intensive, week-long summer school format for co-producing and co-learning that is picked up by similar initiatives across the globe.
Since 2012 the Department has maintained a close working relationship with the HKW in its two-year “Anthropocene Project” as well as its follow-up program “Technosphere 2015–2019." The central anchor of the collaboration is the joint platform “Anthropocene Curriculum,” a continuous experiment in education design and practice, which involves more than 300 scholars and artists from around the globe and which has already resulted in two large Anthropocene Campuses in Berlin and several spin-off projects around the globe (amongst them in Lyon, London, Montreal, Chicago, Philadelphia, Kyoto, Cape Town, Delhi, Sydney, and Bogota). Aiming at finding adequate responses to the Anthropocene challenge in both research and education, the core activity of this project is to scientifically support the creation, conceptualization, and curation of new forms of engagement with a wider community of scholars. Working at the intersection of the natural sciences, humanities, design, and the arts enables the Department to engage productively with the numerous facets of Anthropocene research while also studying its epistemological underpinnings and fostering the understanding of its historical momentum.