Serge Horbach

Serge Horbach
I realised that to fully address the major issues facing society today, one must understand the social dynamics involved in defining, creating, and solving these challenges.
Serge P.J.M. Horbach
Science in Society
Current role
Assistant Professor

Serge Horbach is an assistant professor at Radboud University.

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Serge Horbach. I hold both a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Mathematics from Radboud University. During my PhD project, I transitioned into the social studies of science, a field I am currently still working in. After positions at Leiden University and Aarhus University in Denmark, I returned to Radboud University’s Institute for Science in Society (ISiS). Here, I serve as a lecturer and the coordinator for the Science in Society (SiS) Master’s specialisation. Beyond teaching, I supervise thesis students and organise various events for our SiS students.

Why did you choose to study/work in this field? What makes this field so interesting?

During my studies in mathematics, I always appreciated the clear structure, precise problem definitions, and elegant solutions. However, I realised that to fully address the major issues facing society today, one must understand the social dynamics involved in defining, creating, and solving these challenges. This is precisely what my current field and the SiS master’s specialisation aim to achieve. They bridge the understanding of the natural world with understanding of social interactions and processes necessary to address societal challenges. They are both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, which I find very interesting, sometimes challenging, and always inspiring.

What are you currently doing your own research on?

My research primarily focuses on two areas: the social dynamics within research communities and the interactions between science and society. In the former, I have studied scholarly communication, such as journal publications and peer review processes. Other topics of interest include research ethics and integrity, open science, and research evaluation. Regarding science-society interactions, my research examines societal perceptions of science and trust in science. Additionally, I am interested in how researchers anticipate or understand their public and how they design their research and communication practices accordingly, especially in cases where their research might be sensitive or controversial.

What advice do you have for students making their study choice?

Choosing a field of study is an important and sometimes difficult decision. My advice would be to seek a discipline that not only sparks your curiosity but also challenges you to think critically and creatively. Interdisciplinary fields might allow you to combine various perspectives, as these are often where new understanding emerges and where societal demands increasingly tend to be directed. When making such choices, it’s always helpful to engage with current students and lecturers in your prospective fields to gain insights into the everyday realities, challenges, and opportunities of those disciplines. Hence, feel free to reach out to me, my colleagues, or our current Science in Society students. We are all happy to tell you about what it is we do and help you with choosing a study.

What is the best part of being a lecturer?

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a lecturer in the Science in Society master’s specialisation is the opportunity to engage with students from various backgrounds. Apart from it being very rewarding to facilitate their learning process when they explore new territories, I really enjoy the continuous interactions with and between these students. It provides me with an opportunity to stay connected to various fields of research. In our programme, students have many opportunities to work on case studies or examples of their own interests, usually related to their own academic background. Apart from providing an interdisciplinary environment to our students, I also enjoy this diversity, which keeps challenging me to relate to other disciplines too. Being a lecturer in this Master’s is a very dynamic and fulfilling role.