Cultural Studies encompasses all areas of human life: social structures, institutions, human relations, politics, economics, art, literature, theatre, science, and technology. The variety of cultures and their historical development are equally as interesting as the role of power and the emergence of social, aesthetic, and epistemic orders, but it is essential to study these aspects without creating a hierarchy of different cultures, such as by establishing a precedence for high culture over low. In fact, such demarcations are subject to investigation in their own right, accompanied by a critical reflection on our own culture that aims to facilitate a deeper understanding of the bases of our thoughts and actions. With a concept of culture that is geared towards meaning, knowledge and symbols, Cultural Studies places its focus on those processes through which communities form an understanding of the world that shapes social structures, research, self-image, and the conduct of individuals and groups.
Science and the humanities have played a key role in the development of modern cultures and the current global situation. This is not only because of the influence of technical innovations and scientific interpretations of the world, but also because of the continuing application of science to all areas of life and the exchanges between science and other forms of knowledge that ensue. This entanglement of science, economics, politics, and everyday life in knowledge-based societies is at the center of the research carried out at the Department of Cultural and Science Studies. The projects focus on the history, theory, and practice of knowledge cultures,on how scientific knowledge is produced and how it circulates beyond groups of experts. What scientific content, technologies, and moral concepts find their way into private, public, popular and artistic spheres? To which media, objects, images, and texts are these processes bound? And what are the cultural requirements for scientific work? Concomitantly, we ask which kinds of knowledge are not disseminated, and why this is the case. What myths and cultural norms are conveyed in this fashion, and what power structures are put in place? Which knowledge is accepted and applied, and which is resisted or ignored?
The courses offered by the Department of Cultural and Science Studies deal with these kinds of horizontal questions in close connection with social change, political reality, and everyday events. The complexity of the phenomenon of "culture" requires a combination of scholarly perspectives, however. The Integrated Degree Program in Cultural Studies (ISK) is the only course in Switzerland that offers an interdisciplinary program focusing on the shared cultural approach of the disciplines involved: history, ethnology, sociology, philosophy, political science, science studies, Jewish studies, and religious studies. Students learn to understand their subject from a cultural perspective. A strong focus is also placed on the methods, theories, and history of transdisciplinary cultural studies, and on its innovative fields, including the history of knowledge, post-colonial studies, and media analysis.