Prof. Dr. Michelle Christensen

Open Science / Critical Culture

Since August 2019, Michelle Christensen is a visiting professor at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF). Together with Florian Conradi, she holds the professorship for ‘Open Science / Critical Culture’.

Prof. Dr. Michelle Christensen is a sociologist and designer exploring the spaces in between these realms. Her research interests include trans- and postdisciplinarity, the politics of objects, and the democratic potentials of free and open technologies. Michelle Christensen wrote her Ph.D. (Dr. phil.) in the field of Design Research at the Berlin University of the Arts. Prior to this, she studied political sociology at Roskilde University in Denmark (B.A.), conflict studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands (M.A.), gender studies at the University of Amsterdam (M.Sc.), and integrated design at the Köln International School of Design in Cologne (M.A.). She has worked at the Crisis Department of Amnesty International USA, was a Humanity in Action Fellow, and a Congressional Fellow in the United States Congress in Washington DC. As a researcher she has worked at the Design Research Lab (UdK Berlin) and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). From 2018-2022 she co-headed the research group ‘Critical Maker Culture’ at the UdK Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute together with Florian Conradi – and since September 2022 she co-heads the research group ‘Design, Diversity and New Commons’. She has taught courses in conflict analysis, gender studies and design methods at universities in the Netherlands and Germany, most recently as a visiting professor at the international master’s program (MAID) at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Dessau. Since 2015, she is a member of the Board of International Research in Design (BIRD) at Birkhäuser, and since 2014, she is a board member of the German Society for Design Theory and Research (DGTF).

In the framework of their visiting professorships at the Einstein Center Digital Future, Michelle Christensen and Florian Conradi explore the potential of research practiced within open labs as a mode of open science. Currently, they are initiating the ‘Critical Maker Lab’ as a site of research – as a transdisciplinary and trans-university terrain that attempts to exceed the boundaries of theory and practice, the political and the everyday, and academia and activism. This with the aim to probe new modes of collaboration within research, in order to surface critical perspectives and practices. Within the Critical Maker Lab, their research, teaching and experimental design practice focuses on decolonial, feminist/queer theoretical and sustainable approaches to critical making and free/open technologies.   

"ECDF gives me the opportunity to be right in between academia, politics and civil society. An inclusive digital society can only be built by working across and beyond scientific disciplines – and exactly that is what the ECDF creates a space for", she says. Michelle Christensen is especially looking forward to the unforeseen questions and concerns that surface in the clash of an international and interdisciplinary debate on digitalization. "The ECDF gives me the opportunity to re-question my own approaches and assumptions in an interdisciplinary and interuniversity context."