Real-world laboratories and learning networks

What is a real-world laboratory?

You won't find any white coats or guinea pigs in real-world laboratories. Instead, the researchers work hand-in-hand with social players, industry and the government in order to realise a joint idea. We consider the backgrounds to the idea and its realisation from a research perspective. This is done as a continuous exchange with the practical partners, i.e. in a trans-disciplinary manner. The researchers get the chance to change roles from that of the observer to that of the doer, applying themselves directly to on-going activities at the coal face.

The laboratory character is all-important – experimentation is both desired and a must. We see success and failure as equal results which we render visible both internally and externally. We provide or develop right down to the last detail the necessary preconditions such as premises, expertise, methodical support and essential tools. The linkage of actions and research enables the participants to keep on learning and to scrutinise existing ways of thinking. In this way, we gain new insights and solutions which function both on site as well as having the capacity to be transferred to other contexts. The learning process is a two-way street: as a university, we gain new results for teaching and science, and the practical partners learn new skills to enable them to implement their solutions themselves.

What is a learning network?

The results from research projects and real-world laboratories are reproduced via learning networks in the region and new approaches are realised. They are organised according to region and topic, and serve the purpose of exchanging knowledge and experience. Our self-concept is characterised by a scientific cognitive interest and a needs-based approach. Basically, it is all about a working together as partners. We understand cooperation as reciprocal learning.

"By real-world laboratory, we understand the entirety of the participants and the process which is triggered by joint interaction. This process should be considered as an intentional change whose effects can persist even beyond the funding period. It is important to us that we have the chance to address real issues and problems in a dialogue with various players in order to jointly introduce further steps for sustainable actions." - Prof. Dr. Peter Dehne, Project Manager.