Possible Topics for Student Research Works Topics for Bachelor and Master Theses

On this page, you find topics and suggestions for your Bachelor’s or Master’s theses or study projects if you are interested in writing it at the Chair of Technoscience Studies. In case you have any questions, feel free to ask the person, who is providing the specific topic, for more information.

You could also come up with own ideas for your final paper, do not hesitate to contact us.

The Heritage of Water in Lusatia: Lakes and Rivers as Technoscientific Objects

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible interactions between STS, Heritage Studies, History of Science/Technology, or Landscape Studies (including questions of conservation)

For several decades now, the largest artificial lake landscape in Germany has been emerging from the coal mining landscape of Lusatia. In this region, coal mining is not only a phenomenon of the 20th century, but has a long-lasting tradition that goes back to the 18th century and more. Many currently visible smaller and larger lakes are a direct result of these mining activities. Water can take on very different meanings in the context of these landscape changes and also in mining technology itself. It is used for purification and transport, it can become a hazard, it is a resource for drinking and industrial water, it is added to, removed from and transferred to other states and geo-cultural environments. Accordingly, water is crammed with different meanings and codes and loaded with cultural and natural heritage references.

What would be an adequate description of the natural and culture heritage with respect to the role of water in this multifaceted historical mining area? How do the new “water landscapes” relate to the former landscapes, before and during the mining period? Which concrete infrastructures have already been realised here, which current difficulties arise, also in the mediation with historical infrastructures (keyword channeled rivers, sluices, dams)? What makes these new landscapes uncanny, inaccessible, and at the same time a hot spot of landscape design and landscape conservation? What role does the water deficit play in connection with climate change? How can these transformations be adequately described, what become artificial lakes as technoscientific objects in this radical change of landscape and socio-technical conditions?

Reconceptualization of technology-environment relations in Lusatia - which terms and concepts?

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible focus on Philosophy of technology, STS, or environmental anthropology

For several decades, the largest artificial lake landscape in Germany has been emerging from the open-cast coal mining landscape of Lusatia. Many concrete infrastructures have already been realized here and have produced a whole series of problematic technological consequences, also with respect to historical infrastructures (rivers, dams, canals, locks). These large-scale technoscientific experiments can be analyzed on the basis of various theories and concepts, such as the apparatus-world complex (Harré), as phenomeno-technical processes (Bachelard), or as biographies of technoscientific objects (Bensaude-Vincent et al.). The radical changes of the landscape and its socio-technical conditions are then accentuated differently in each case, and accordingly produce different scopes, but also necessities, of action.

Transformation of the historical garden culture in Lusatia - Fruit and wine growing since the 18th century (German language competence required)

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible focus on history of science, cultural history of gardens, natural/cultural heritage, or environmental anthropology

Wine from Lusatian open-cast mining? Fruit export from Lusatia to Berlin and Sweden? Both are correct, both can be proven with sources that go back at least to the 18th century. This is about the horticultural mechanization of Lusatia and the associated cultural techniques. Topics for the historical processing of the garden culture in the Lausitz, particularly in city and region Spremberg are assigned. Different periods of time are possible, the focus is on the epoch of industrialization until today. The object of research is the investigation of the development of urban gardening, viticulture and orcharding, as well as the cultural landscape close to the city and the accompanying horticultural practices and cultural techniques. Archival work in Spremberg, Meissen and Dresden is planned.

GardenKnowledge: Research on Gardening Practices and the Figure of Homo hortensis

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible interactions between STS, environmental anthroplogy, history and philosophy of science/technology, cultural history of gardens, or nature/heritage.

In cities and municipalities of Brandenburg, there are conspicuously large proportions of land devoted to allotment gardens compared to the rest of Germany. Gardening practices are thus a widespread activity and so far little used socio-economic and ecological source of knowledge. The GartenWissen project focuses on the gardening skills of citizens and their presence in the media. Under the conditions of structural change in Lusatia, garden knowledge takes on a special relevance, especially if transformative innovation is to mean "sustainable global transformation of the economy and society" (WBGU, 2011, p. 5).

Organizational and social structures of allotment gardens, colonies, or even front gardens are historically established and widespread, the actors are economically diverse, and they have gardening and ecological knowledge in the concrete reality of climate and structural change in the region. This makes gardening practices an important influencer of responsible nature use in the region, historically and currently.

As socio-technical practices in the garden are to be addressed, for example, collecting and harvesting, soil bar cultivation and compost tilling, exchange of seeds, in the digital sphere the creation of good practice examples, recording and systematization of garden plants, the establishment of contact exchanges, of recipe collections or equipment flea market.

Local knowledge about environmental changes (e.g. endangerment of local species occurrences) or the effects of climate change on the region lies to a large extent with local actors. It is a knowledge that also differs in structure and content from scientific knowledge, such as that offered by national institutes or global agencies. In particular, the concept of developing a so-called creole as a new first language in a hybrid community of knowledge actors (Fuller, 1993, Stoddard, 1991) can be used here. It may be expected that knowledge elaborated by local actors, on the one hand in the sense of citizen science projects, on the other hand on the basis of a gardening Creole in the local context, can have a greater authoritative and action-guiding effect. Such knowledge elaborated by different actors can then also present and convey local impacts of climate change or agribusiness more credibly than, for example, environmental ministries.

The analysis of already established patterns of action and bodies of knowledge suggests that various socio-technical practices and actors can be identified, which can be used for the analysis and conceptualization of a positively understood structural change "from below" in order to promote empowerment and participatory learning and design formats - GardenKnowledge is thus of relevance far beyond the garden shed.

Various projects are conceivable in this framework, socio-cultural and ecological conditions in regional urban gardens can be investigated, what are the social interactions in the garden and how are they coupled with material cultures; which interspecies concepts are suitable to analyze the handling of "beneficial organisms" and "pests", which animal-human relationships exist in the garden and what changes possibly occur in them through the concrete encounter in the garden; are there forms of resilience that are promoted or even brought about through gardening practices (example therapy gardens in retirement homes, hospitals, migration context, climate gardens etc.)?

Creating Virtual Worlds in Museums – What does this do to Cultural/Natural Heritage Objects

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible interactions between Museology, Material Studies, STS, Visual Studies

How does digitisation in museums influence the way objects are staged and how visitors are confronted with them, and how is the collection itself influenced, both the objects in storage and those on display? Asking these questions also means asking about the way meaning is produced and stabilized in museums and how cultural/natural heritage objects are presented, constructed and also preserved.

The digitisation of objects is also linked to the preservation of analogue, material objects when they are converted into digital objects, which techniques are used in the process and how the data is stored and made accessible. Questions of material preservation and its durability are thus not only equally important for digital and analogue objects, but above all for the planning and implementation of the transformation process of the objects.

Digitization of Collection Objects in Natural History Museums

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible interactions between Museology, Heritage Studies, STS, Visual Studies, Material Studies, Philosophy of Technology

With the increasing digitization of large areas of society, museums were also confronted with the question of whether and how to digitize their analog collection objects.

In addition to questions about the long-term storage of the collected data and its organization, practical questions about object recording and transformation have also arisen. In natural history museums, there are a large number of objects that are conserved in very different ways and are also used in different ways in the exhibition and scientific context. What is lost, what is gained in the transformation from analog to digital object? Are really all objects, whether natural or cultural heritage, suitable for digitization, what are the risks in the technical exposure of an object? How does the organizational, conservation, and economic context of analog objects change as a result of their digitization? What does it mean for the curation of exhibitions when objects are increasingly presented in a digital environment and what for the museum experience of the visitors? How do the digital images produced relate to the analog objects? How does the different material presence of the objects influence their reception and what impact does this have on the visitors' museum experience?

Visual cultures of ecological research

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible cross-references between philosophy of technology, visual studies, history of science/technology

This project is about visualization strategies of ecological research and about changes of images during the transfer from science to society - and back. Depending on the historical, cultural or methodological context, different visual images of nature are generated and defended. These images each represent different metaphysical ideas and epistemic models, they differ in image technique, strategy and staging. Ecological research, we argue, can be read as a mapping program of conceptions of nature from different scientific, national, philosophical, and geographical cultures. Whether a piece of nature is considered worthy of protection, a resource worthy of capitalization, unreliable and dangerous, or worthy of contemplative experience is largely dependent on the cultural environment and thus, in our knowledge society, on visual and conceptual representations of science (see www.b-tu.de/fg-technikwissenschaft/bildkulturen)

From Coal Phase-Out to Hydrogen Phase-In - Technoscientific Experimentation and Socio-technical Imagination

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Possible focus on STS, Philosophy of Technology, or Technology Assessment

As part of the coal phase-out, a number of initiatives have emerged in Lusatia that deal with decarbonization techniques. These include the real laboratory at the Schwarze Pumpe industrial park (near Spremberg). The reference power plant is being developed in the sense of a prototype for a hydrogen storage power plant; the aim is to produce green hydrogen for use in the transport, industry and heat sectors. The format of the real laboratory is to be critically reflected and the prototype is to be located as a technical object in the rapidly changing field of discourse of politics, science and technology. This can be about the analysis of future narratives or/and so-called socio-technical imaginaries or about the intrinsic life of technoscientific objects.

Aquatic Infrastructures in the Lausitz—From the Perspective of a Technoscientific Apparatus

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

For several decades, the largest artificial lake landscape in Germany has been emerging from the coal mining landscape of Lusatia. Which concrete infrastructures have already been realized here, which current difficulties arise, also in the mediation with historical infrastructures (keyword dams), which role does the water deficit play and how can the concept ‘technoscientific apparatus’ be used to adequately describe this radical change in landscape and socio-technical conditions.

History of Technology and Science Research at the BTU (with special consideration of the Technoscience Studies, German language competence required)

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

Research on technology and science has arrived in the university subject canon in Germany only with some delay compared to the Anglo-Saxon area. At the BTU Cottbus, there were already efforts in the 1990s to establish research on technology in the humanities and social sciences in close cooperation with the Association of German Engineers. These activities were visible both institutionally and in terms of content and were reflected, for example, in the founding of institutes (Center for Technology and Society), a study program (Culture and Technology) and professorships (philosophy of technology, history of technology, general science of technology). The project is medium-term and consists of several sub-projects, such as the development of an archive and a website, a history of institutions, the question of how technoscience studies were conducted in the GDR, etc. (see also our project www.b-tu.de/en/fg-technikwissenschaft/research/fields-of-research/technology-as-epistemic-culture).