I spent the first days of the week in a wonderful hotel in the middle of Austrian nowhere; or more specifically: in the hotel Knappenhof, close to Reichenau half-way on the Rax. A picture describes the place the best, I guess.
The reason for this trip to the countryside was my first “ITA Klausur”, which annually takes place in June. The major task of our intense three-day meeting was a kind of self-discovery in times of budget cuts and precarious futures. The SOS ÖAW initiative speaks for itself. Despite these challenges – or maybe even because of them – we had very productive discussions on mission statements, PR work, academic work flows and policy advice, evaluation criteria of scientific and consulting achievements, discrepancy between long-term measures and short-term goals, integration of different employment contracts, perspectives and needs, and – last but not least – the very nature of technology assessment and its role in academia, society and the policy realm. We finally made a list of different tasks and identified measures how to reach them in due time.
Even though a lot of work lies ahead of us the atmosphere and general “vibes” were really positive and motivating. The ITA culture of communication seems to be pretty inclusive, democratic and well balanced. Having just started my job in March, and hence still being an ITA “novice”, I felt very welcome and integrated. The Klausur was a really good opportunity to gain insights in both ITA dynamics and the nitty-gritty of technology assessment! (Hopefully the weather will be better next time!)