Physicist Ulrike Felt has delivered the inaugural lecture of the 2019–2020 academic year at the UPC

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The Austrian physicist and professor at the University of Vienna: Ulrike Felt. Image: University of Vienna

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What is the role of universities when it comes to implementing “responsible research and innovation”? That is one of the questions that Felt has addressed in her speech about the latent challenges of our constantly evolving social and technological world

Awards and recognitions

During the ceremony, the recognition of the Social Council to the people and teams awarded during 2018 has aslo taken place and the following awards from the 2019 UPC academic year has been presented: The 22nd UPC University Teaching Quality Award, the 7th UPC University Management Quality Award, the 12th UPC Research Valorisation Award—all organised by the Board of Trustees—, the 1st UPC Social Commitment Award and the 15th UPC Folder Competition.

On 4 October at 12 noon, the UPC has hold the inauguration ceremony of the 2019–2020 academic year. Professor Ulrike Felt, who holds a doctoral degree in Physics and is the head of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna, has delivered an inaugural lecture entitled “Universities and their role in fostering ‘response-ability’ in a fast developing socio-technical world”.

Oct 04, 2019

The inauguration ceremony of the 2019–2020 academic year at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC), which has taken place in the Auditorium of the Vèrtex building (Plaça Eusebi Güell, 6) in Barcelona, has been attended by the secretary for Universities and Research of the Catalan government, Francesc Xavier Grau; the rector of the UPC, Francesc Torres; the chair of the Board of Trustees, Ramon Carbonell; the designer Perico Pastor, who has unveiled the secrets of the logo that he has designed for the UPC’s 50th anniversary; and the general secretary of the UPC, Margarita Espona, who has presented a report on the 2018–2019 academic year.

In her inaugural lecture, Austrian physicist Ulrike Felt, a professor and the head of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna, has discussed how science and engineering provide solutions to global challenges in contemporary societies. What is the role of universities when it comes to implementing “responsible research and innovation”? That is one of the questions that Felt has addressed in her speech about the latent challenges of our constantly evolving social and technological world.

The inauguration ceremony, which has been conducted by the meteorologist Míriam Santamaria, could be followed on live at UPCtv. A broadcast that has benefited the new audiovisual equipment from the Auditorium of the Vèrtex: the electronic and audiovisual system in the control room has been updated and the main room now features a Full HD LED monitor, 4 Full HD cameras, IP video connectivity, a wireless presentation system, multiple platform streaming (UPCtv channel, Skype, YouTube, etc.), a multiple screen system with PIP, monitors on the table on the stage and a screen for presentations.

Interdisciplinary career
Ulrike Felt has been a professor at the University of Vienna’s Institute of Science and Technology Studies since 1999. She has been the director of this institute twice: from 2004 to 2014 and from October 2018 onwards. She was also the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the same institution from 2014 to 2018.

After obtaining her doctoral degree in Theoretical Physics at the University of Vienna in 1983, she worked for almost five years at CERN in Geneva, where she participated in an interdisciplinary research team that analysed the social, political and scientific aspects of this European research institution. During this period, she redirected her scientific activity towards research in social sciences, focusing on the interaction between science, technology and society. In 1988 she returned to Vienna, where she took up a position at the newly founded Institute for Philosophy of Science and Social Studies of Science. Since 1999, she has been a professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna.

She has extensive experience in managing national and international research projects and applying and developing a wide range of qualitative social science methods (focus groups, map-based discussion methods, interview techniques, etc.). She has conducted research in fields that range from life sciences and biomedicine to materials science and nanotechnology, sustainable development, nuclear energy, recognition technologies and social sciences.

She served as a member of the council of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) from 1994 to 1999. She has been the president of this association since 2017. She was also a member of the council of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) from 2002 to 2004. From 2002 to 2007 she was the editor of the international journal Science, Technology and Human Values. She is a founding member and has been the president of the Austrian Association for Science and Technology Studies since 2015. Finally, she has been the leading editor of the 2017 Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (MIT Press).

She was also engaged in setting up the new programme of the master’s degree in Science, Technology and Society at the University of Vienna, and was its director from 2009 to 2014. In this context, in 2014 she and her colleagues received the UNIVIE Teaching Award. In 2015 she was awarded the Ars Docendi national award for excellent teaching.

Felt has been an advisor on national and European policy. She was invited to participate as an expert in the Advisory Group of the European Commission for the Science and Society priority of the Sixth Framework Programme (2003–2006). From 2006 to 2007, she was a member of the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB). Between 2005 and 2007, along with Brian Wynne, she led the expert group Science and Governance in Brussels. As a political consultant, she led the report commissioned by the European Science Foundation “The Future of Science in Society”, which was given the Ziman Award of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology in 2014. Since 2015 she has led the interdisciplinary research platform Responsible Research and Innovation in Academic Practice at the University of Vienna. She is also a member of the research platform Plastics in the Environment and Society.