Where would we be without science?

«A question of culture» - us and our science

In the LINK column series “A question of culture”, editors from SRF Kultur give an insight into their world from a very personal point of view: Which questions are they moving? What is the meaning of culture for you? And what does culture actually mean? This time: Katrin Zöfel, science editor SRF Kultur.

The science editor is part of the culture department at SRF. That's a thought that I like. What would we be without art, without film, music, literature! And even without science. All of this together is “culture”. I could now dive into the question: What is culture and since when have we actually had one? And: why do humans have one, but not a mouse? That would be a typical science journalist. And there would definitely be exciting answers.

But I resist it because something else has become important to me in the past twelve months (actually it was important for a long time, but now it's so obvious that you can hardly ignore it), namely the question: How is it the relationship of a society to its science? Are we listening to science? Or do we let the research work in its ivory tower and only listen to it for leisure activities, just like we go to the museum on Sunday afternoon and to the cinema on Tuesday evening? Or do we only ask about it when we need it to fight the tumor that has infected the pancreas?

“Let's let the research go by in your ivory tower and do you listen to leisure activities at best?»

Katrin Zöfel
Science editor SRF Kultur

Since Corona, these questions have become more urgent for me. Because in these twelve months it has become clear how concrete the effects are of how society, politics and science deal with one another. We in the science department have tried to act as the mediator between what science can say about the virus and how to deal sensibly with its presence in Switzerland, what it can and cannot predict, and what politics makes of it, And last but not least, the questions that our listeners and our users ask themselves every day about living with Corona. That was (and is) challenging and often surprising.

Keeping journalistic distance on a topic that inevitably affects me as a person was perhaps the most difficult exercise. As the editorial team, we have learned to repeatedly extract something new and relevant from an ongoing topic and, if in doubt, to bring some things to the station a couple of times. Because, for example, the information about what aerosols are and how vaccines work was relevant in the fall - and it still is.