Background Background

Scientific and humanistic disciplines are facing a crisis: their historically evolved research interests seem ill-suited to addressing our era’s most pressing environmental, societal, and ethical challenges. The current state of humanity requires us to rethink—but not unthink—some of the basic tenets of scientific knowledge.

The Elkana Forum tackles this crisis at its root, by interrogating the very research questions that science poses. What different questions are needed to reestablish a meaningful relationship between science and real-life challenges today and in the future? This interdisciplinary forum brings together leading intellectuals to explore the scope for change at the interface between science and politics.

The inspiration for the Elkana Forum is the visionary philosopher and historian of science Yehuda Elkana, who argued that science urgently needs to find new ways to select its research questions. Our first event, “Disciplines in Disarray,” marks the tenth anniversary of Elkana’s death on September 21, 2012.


September 21

Welcome Addresses

2 – 3:15 pm


Jürgen Renn

Welcome Address on Behalf of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

Katja Krause

Opening Address

Shai Lavi

Welcome Remarks on Behalf of The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Christoph Markschies

President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences

How to Develop Academics and Universities: Yehuda’s Impulses and My Own Experiences

Disciplines in Disarray?

3 – 6:30 pm


Wilhelm Krull


Wilhelm Krull

Introductory Remarks: Transgressing Disciplinary Boundaries

Sebastian Bonhoeffer

Wicked Problems and the Academic Ecosystem

Françoise Baylis

Slow Science: An Effective Path to “Finding, Choosing, and Defining” the Most Important Questions of Our Time

Volker Meyer-Guckel

Problems, Challenges, and Space of Knowledge: Realizing and Organizing New Knowledge Communities beyond Academia

Aziz Al-Azmeh

Academic Paradigms as Political Dispositions

Mordechai Kremnitzer

Populism: Politics and Science

Remembering Yehuda

7 – 8:30 pm


Glenn Most


Dan Weinstein

Whither Do You Go Home (music by Amos Elkana)

Rivka Feldhay

My Mentor Yehuda

Joachim Nettelbeck

Yehuda Elkana as an Institution Builder

Dan Pelleg

Happily Ever After (with dance performance)


September 22

Contexts of Being Human

9 – 11:30 am


Marina Garcés

How to Imagine a New Radical Enlightenment

Maria Paradiso

Human Condition: “Persona geographica” in the Internet Age

Daphna Hacker

Law, Families, and Gender

Giovanni Frazzetto

Science and Narratives of Intimacy

Julia Mossbridge

Agape: The "Electricity" of Twenty-First-Century Science and Technology

Security — Resilience — Vulnerability

12 – 1:30 pm


Moran Cerf


Mika Kerttunen

How Do You Know? On the Epistemology of Cybersecurity

Haya Shulman

Digital Sovereignty in Modern Societies


2 – 4:30 pm


Moran Cerf


Oren Harman

Knowing without Understanding

Sandra Matz-Cerf

The Human Microscope: How Big Data offers a Window into our Psyche

Gerd Gigerenzer

The Human Affair with AI: How Technology Changes Us

Shai Lavi

Being Ethical in the Age of AI: From Interdisciplinarity to Pre-Disciplinarity

Human Conditions – Human Cognitions

5 – 7:30 pm


Daphna Joel

Are Men and Women the Same or Different? Or Is It the Wrong Question?

Simone Kühn

Investigating the Effects of the Physical Environment on Brain Plasticity

Keely Muscatell

The Social Life of the Immune System: Integrating the Social Environment to Understand Health

Ehud Gazit

The Great Enigma in the Understanding and Treatment of Age-Related Cognitive Disorders: Were We All Wrong?

Eva Jablonka

Through the Lens of Evolution: Lamarckian Inheritance and Conscious Agency

Presentation of the Elkana Forum

8 – 8:30 pm

Ohad Parnes

Katja Krause


The Only thing Greater than Death is Life

8 – 9:30 pm


Alexander Polzin

Requiem. A dialogue with Katja Krause

Tamara Stefanovich

Yehuda Elkana and György Kúrtag

Followed by a Piano Recital


September 23


10 am – 1 pm


Moran Cerf

Lucid Dreaming

Chiara Cirelli

How to Assess the Presence of Consciousness in the Absence of Behavioral Reports

Tania Singer

The Social Neuroscience of Altering Consciousness through Mental Training

Giulio Tononi

IIT 4.0: from Phenomenology to Physics

The Future of Science?

2 – 5 pm


Ohad Parnes


Jamie Cohen-Cole

Making Meanings: Human Nature and the Future of the Humanities

Lucia Melloni

Accerlerating Research through Open Science Adversarial Collaboration

Rudolf Stichweh

The Complexity of Modern Science and the Evolution of Global Problems

Michael Esfeld

Science and the Constitutional State

Éliane Ubalijoro

Reimagining the Future of Science for a Sustainable Planet

Christian Schubert

Why Do We Need a Paradigm Shift Now? Machine Medicine versus Biopsychosocial Medicine

Closing Remarks

5 – 5:30 pm

Closing Remarks by Katja Krause and Ohad Parnes