School of Knowledge Sciences (SKS)

Knowledge is a main element and resource of societies – dynamically changing through a number of drivers like globalization, digitalization, specialisation, and many more.

The focus of the SKS is on the advancement of knowledge for the development of citizens, organizations, sectors, countries, and the world – achieving the SDGs.

The SKS aims at linking and combining scientific disciplines in a way to understand the organizational and societal dynamics of knowledge, to manage knowledge – or more specifically its influencers – and to create the best value for societies.

Knowledge sciences are fundamental to any scientific discipline.



Basic ideas

  1. Knowledge: a key resource of our societies, institutions, and citizens
  2. Knowledge for what? The commitment to the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs
  3. SDGs require global, multi-stakeholder knowledge partnerships
  4. Societies need knowledge scientists with dedicated and linked education
  5. Knowledge Sciences require research collaboration
  6. Principle of subsidiarity
Rationale 1. Knowledge is a key resource of societies, institutions, and citizens

Knowledge is at the heart of sustainable development. Today´s knowledge societies are characterised by a predominant and still growing share of knowledge work at all levels of societies:

  • Citizens´ efforts to acquire and maintain knowledge for happy, self-determined lives, decent jobs, responsible contribution to society are increasing, while citizen´s knowledge is increasingly threatened by fake-news, information overload, and more.
  • Organizational knowledge processes – like searching, finding, creating, learning, sharing, innovating, applying, capturing – take a significant share of the value chain, while handling and maintaining knowledge becomes increasingly challenging, being a critical factors for impact, competitiveness and resilience.
  • Societies compete for knowledge leadership and invest increasing financial resources in research, education and innovation, being challenged by brain drain, knowledge divide, loss of traditional knowledge, dysfunctional knowledge ecosystems, and more.
  • The United Nations defined knowledge sharing and collaboration in global partnerships for knowledge exchange as one of its 17 SDGs, while still struggling with the management of such huge amounts of knowledge and achieving the SDGs.

Understanding the nature and characteristics of knowledge, and being capable to manage knowledge, are therefore essential in the context of individual growth, organizational performance and societal development.

Rationale 2. Knowledge for what? The commitment to Agenda 2030 and beyond
  • The School of Knowledge Sciences (SKS) is committed to the Agenda 2030 of the UN and to contributing to the achievement of the SDGs – at all levels of society: individual, organisational, societal, global.
  • Academic advancements shall contribute – even beyond the Agenda 2030 – to better lives, organizational performance, as well as to societal and global development.
  • The SKS is therefore not technology-oriented, or human-centric, but impact-oriented, integrative and transdisciplinary. The SKS addresses knowledge as a resource in all scientific or thematic areas, sectors.
  • Based on its strong commitment to the SDGs, the SKS seeks collaboration with the UN, specifically with
    • UNESCO due to its thematic focus on knowledge societies
    • UN University due to its academic orientation towards the SDGs
    • UNDP due to its integrative role in development
    • SDG knowledge partnerships due to their essential thematic role
Rationale 3. The School of Knowledge Sciences itself a global, transdisciplinary partnership
  • Knowledge science may be seen as a scientific discipline on its own, characterized by knowledge as its primary object of research. However, major amounts of knowledge-relevant knowledge is anchored (through terms, theories, approaches, practical application, and more) in disciplines like philosophy, sociology, psychology, education science, neurosciences, data and information science, management science, law, and many more. Therefore the SKS is defined as a school of knowledge sciences with a plural s.
  • Knowledge workers are confronted with a number of topics that go beyond one single scientific disciplines and beyond science as such. Therefor a transdisciplinary – or antidisciplinary – approach is needed.
  • The global orientation, putting the SDGs into focus, requires a global and multi-stakeholder approach for the School of Knowledge Science itself.
  • The SKS shall not be independent of political, scientific, economic interest. It is rather “omnidependant”, meaning that success comes only if value is created to its multiple partners. Therefore the SKS is not anchored within one single domain, like an academic institution or a business framework, but in K4DP as a global multi-stakeholder partnership itself.
  • The knowledge assets of the SKS (human, structure, relation assets) are not with the SKS itself, but with its partners. SKS links them and makes them accessible to its partners. Implementation of programmes is with local partners.
Rationale 4. Organizations need knowledge scientists with dedicated and linked education

The capability to create value from knowledge requires an understanding of various knowledge sciences.

Knowledge sciences are too complex to be substantially covered in short courses or trainings. Dedicated education is needed to understand the essential dimensions of knowledge and qualifying for a range of knowledge professions.

  • Knowledge scientists qualify as professional Knowledge Managers, creating value from knowledge from a systematic, targeted, integrated approach to knowledge.
  • Knowledge scientists qualify as knowledge architects/engineergs, developing structures (like ontologies, knowledge graphs) for searching/finding, AI apps and other knowledge-processing IT-Tools
  • Knowledge scientists qualify as communication professionals, facilitating knowledge sharing, collaboration and co-creativity in global, multi-stakeholder setups, developing smart knowledge products and services.
  • Knowledge scientists qualify as development professional finding solutions to fight knowledge divide, advance diversity of knowledge, protect traditional/indigenous knowledge.
  • Knowledge scientists qualify for knowledge, innovation, and learning politics in cities, nations, regions, assessing capacities, developing knowledge strategies, advancing knowledge ecosystems, advising politicians.
  • Knowledge scientists qualify to advance knowledge skills ranging from (re)searching, acquiring, creating, learning, sharing, applying, capturing, reflecting, assessing knowledge in any thematic field.

All of these with fundamental knowledge sciences and additional specialisations.

  • Knowledge science and skills are needed in any scientific field. The SKS therefore complements other academic studies as a “studium generale” (general studies).
  • Likewise, knowledge sciences need other disciplines for practical applications. Partnerships with SDG knowledge hubs are a important to materialize the knowledge in concrete sectors (like health knowledge, climate knowledge, etc.).
  • Specializations, like health knowledge sciences, climate knowledge science, etc. could be established mid-term an provide students an easier and more targeted entry into practical doing and ease avail better job opportunities.
Rationale 5. Knowledge Sciences require international, transdisciplinary research
  • The full spectrum of knowledge sciences with all its linkages in wider knowledge ecosystems requires transdisciplinary research and usually goes beyond the capacities of singular research institutes or institutions.
  • Maintaining a clear scientific profile today requires specialisation. Therefore even those initiatives, which claimed a comprehensive academic orientation toward knowledge science, tended to develop into a thematic specialisation (like “technology” or “creation of knowledge”, where they create the highest scientific output.
  • Intercultural research is needed to address intercultural collaboration in global multi-stakeholder partnerships
  • Comparative research on knowledge ecosystems in various cultural, regional, political context can help understanding context-factors, learn from best practices and failure.
  • Evidence on global goals, like knowledge divide, knowledge diversity, knowledge skills, and other social aspects require global collaboration.
  • Identifying and disseminating good practices requires active sharing by the partners. The inclusion of non-scientists is necessary. This again justifies the hosting of the School of Knowledge Sciences at K4DP, a global multi-stakeholder partnership itself.
Rationale 6. Principle of subsidiarity

Partnership and a joint – or aligned – research agenda are needed, following the principle of subsidiarity.

The School of Knowledge Sciences does not claim covering all knowledge sciences itself, but

  • identifies academic partners with research capacities and educational offerings (or aspiration to do so)
  • facilitates communication and collaboration to better coordinate towards joint/aligned research agenda
  • facilitates co-creation of curricula for academic programmes, which can be approved within their local context
  • help to define standards and facilitate exchange of students
  • forms a global faculty to teach at whichever place
  • provides courses and programmes to complement existing programmes
  • develops communication channels to disseminate the findings (like policy briefs and more)

Activities of partners or other activities within K4DP (youth programme), shall be aligned in an open, transparent, and accountable way.

Intended actions

What we plan

Education and Training

  • Bachelor Knowledge Sciences
  • MBA Knowledge Management
  • MSc. Knowledge-based Development
  • PhD programme Knowledge Sciences
  • Training and certification courses in knowledge management
  • Vocational trainings in knowledge skills

Research and Innovation

  • Knowledge societies and economies
  • Sector knowledge hubs and partnerships
  • Knowledge Management for Development
  • Knowledge inclusion and knowledge communication
  • Knowledge – foundational research and linkages to development

Communication and Advocacy

  • Public awareness raising and advocacy in countries – providing scientific foundation
  • Promoting KM in the private sector: business, NGOs, media, etc.
  • Promoting KM in the UN System – providing scientific foundation

Art and culture

  • Artists in residence – cultural and artistic interventions
  • Art productions, exhibitions and collection

Our partners

all around the world

Current Activities and Outlook

What ist still to come

The Knowledge for Development Challenges are among the key educational / transformational programmes of the School of Knowledge Sciences. The aim is to educate “Knowledge for Development Agents” for the transformation of countries into knowledge economies/societies linked with national development plans. Implementation shall happen in cooperation with 5 Universities and societal partners together with selected International Organisations. The K4D Challenges include typically:

  • Courses on Knowledge Management and knowledge-based development
  • Courses on KM in 10 thematic areas including agriculture, water and sanitationg, biodiversity, migration, climate
  • Challenge 1: Facilitating the (national/regional) knowledge partnership and agenda knowledge in the country or thematic area.
  • Challenge 2: Assess and advise the subject-specific thematic multi-stakeholder partnership
  • Challenge 3: Develop KM Strategies for the organisations, companies or projects/programmes relevant for the implementation of the Knowledge Agenda
  • Duration: 6-12 months

Become a member!

Sounds like a great idea? Become a member of K4DP!

+43 1 4702909