If you fail, you have been unsuccessful, not fulfilled the expectations you or others had of you, have not reached your goal or have had to forego your wishes or dreams. Usually, failure has a negative connotation. But why is that? The answers given by members of the Junge Akademie (JA) in the dossier on “Failure” are amazingly positive. ‘Failure shows us the way to many other better questions,’ says Emanuel Towfigh, and according to Robert Wolf: ‘failure is part of our daily life.’
The idea for a dossier on “Failure” evolved during an ideas workshop in Weimar in winter 2012. Is self-determined failure a better kind of failure? Do you have to be clever to fail? Have you failed in academia if you do not get a professorship? In the dossier, we could only address some of the many questions. Members of the RG Sustainability investigated the successes and failures of sustainability in the context of finance, ecology and academia. The pieces by the economist Moritz Schularick,and the sociologist Magdalena Nowicka focus on how differently systems and individuals deal with (apparent) failure. Failure is related to social norms, which is why failure is often reframed in narratives. As the risk researcher Wolfgang Gaissmaier points out, biographies contain ‘the things that worked’ – and that, in comparison with the things that did not work, is not so very much.
In the second part of this issue you will find, as usual, reports on the various research and project groups at the Junge Akademie. The very first photo competition to be run by the Junge Akademie in collaboration with partners from the Netherlands, Russia, Scotland and Sweden was a huge success. More than 500 photos were submitted on the theme of ‘Visions and Images of Fascination.’ Turn to p. 28 to view the top ten images.
The editorial team and I hope you’ll enjoy reading our magazine!