As science policies have increasingly oriented themselves to fostering 'excellence' we are looking to unpack this notion in the governance of science through four themes: 'funding for excellence', 'the rhetoric of excellence', 'managing and evaluating excellence' and 'comparing excellence'.
Over the past 25 years, (inter)national science policies have oriented themselves toward fostering excellent research(ers) and research infrastructures by way of targeted policy measures and funding schemes. These measures and schemes are part of a broader rise of competitive funding in Western academia, aimed at increasing 'research excellence' and strengthening the (economically) productive force of research (cf. Sorensen et al., 2015).
We are looking to unpack the notion of 'excellence' in academic research and welcome theoretical contributions and empirical studies from STS, science policy studies, governmentality studies, critical labour studies and material semiotic perspectives. We will divide the papers into four panels:
Funding for excellence: What is the role and function of excellence policies in different science systems, and how do they influence the organization, work practices and content of research?
The rhetoric of excellence: How has the discourse of excellence emerged and played out in different national contexts? Are there multiple situated meanings of excellence? How does 'excellence' affect other registers of valuing academic work?
Managing and evaluating excellence: How have various technologies for governing excellence (e.g. indicators, audits, standards, funding systems, leadership courses) developed over time and how do they shape everyday research and management practices as well as career paths in academic settings?
Comparing excellence: How has excellence been evaluated in different times, places, or institutional settings? Do (e)valuations of "being the best" in sectors like health care or the creative industry offer useful thoughts for the understanding of contemporary academic excellence?