Make your own Digital Life Norway reading club!

The last sixth months or so we have had an experiment going in Trondheim. We have fed 10–15 PhD students and early career researchers pizza and academic texts addressing science & society issues, put them in a room together for about 2,5 hours at the time, and given people only one instruction; discuss.

We have called the experiment the DLN reading club, and the results have been promising. Promising indeed. That is, we have certainly not solved any problems, probably gotten a great deal more confused about the world we live and work in than before, but still strangely feel like we have learned a lot. And importantly, we have had loads of fun.

In our meetings, we have discussed topics like the autonomy of the scientist, how underlying funding models are part of shaping our work and gender balance issues. From here, we have moved on to sharing and discussing broader concerns in our daily scientific lives, often adding complexity to the issues rather than reducing it. Interestingly, many different ideas of what scientific work is and what it should entail have been carved out. Some overlapping, some in tension with each other. However, we would argue that the following feeling of perplexity is far more constructive than it is paralyzing. It has cultivated our curiosity and pushed us out of our comfortable echo chambers. In particular, the transdisciplinarity of DLN has been a key asset to enable this, as we have managed to gather people from many different fields. Discussing with people from a different academic background than your own triggers an interest for new perspectives that can open doors to new collaborations in the future. 

This post is thus meant as an encouragement to research school members situated in other cities to start your own reading clubs. The protocol is easy to follow; pizza, readings, and a bunch of people from different disciplines that are hungry to learn and discuss! The DLN research school is happy to support initiatives emerging from its member base, so please contact Liv Falkenberg (, if you want to start a reading club of your own or have other ideas that you want to pursue. You can read more about the open call for course proposals, with application deadline 1 December, here.

By Gisle Solbu and Anita Akbarzadeh
Published Nov. 13, 2020 1:38 PM - Last modified Jan. 13, 2021 2:09 PM