Tag Archives: Michael Frayn

Canadian science and society symposium in Ottawa (Oct. 21 – 23, 2013)

The Science and Society 2013: Emerging Agendas for Citizens and the Sciences symposium (featured previously in my Aug. 16,, 2013 posting) is being held in Ottawa, Ontario from Oct. 21-23, 2013 according to the symposium homepage,

Co-organized by the Situating Science SSHRC Strategic Knowledge Cluster (www.situsci.ca) and the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy (www.issp.uottawa.ca), the Science and Society 2013 symposium aims to understand and address the key issues at the interface of science, technology, society and policy.

The event will connect disparate themes and bring different groups with shared interests together to brainstorm solutions to common challenges. It will demonstrate that collaboration among academics, students, policy makers, stakeholders and the public at large can lead to new insights and a deeper understanding of the social and cultural contexts of science and technology.

The symposium aims to make the discussion of science and technology and their place in society more prominent in the national dialogue, notably through the publication of a symposium report containing recommendations on how to understand and improve the science-society interface and improve science policy.  This document will be distributed among media and key decision makers.

There are three events for the public:

The Transformations in the Relations Between Science, Policy and Citizens

Date: Mon. Oct. 21, 2013
Time: 19:00 – 20:30
Location: Desmarais Building, Rm. 12-102 (12th floor), University of Ottawa, 55 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa
Price: Free (registration required)
Reception and Student Poster Display to follow
Out of town? Watch live online (link TBD)

The traditional relations between scientists, policy makers and citizens have been transformed over the last fifteen years. Scientists were used to providing science for policy makers who were eager to listen, while citizens were relatively confident in the judgments of scientists. Using recent cases of scientific and public controversies, we will show that citizens have more power now than ever before to influence policies in matters relating to scientific research. This raises the pressing issue for us as citizens: How do we give a central place to a scientific culture that is adapted to the 21st century?

Yves Gingras
Canada Research Chair in the History and Sociology of Science
Université du Québec à Montréal

Selections and discussion of Michael Frayn’s Tony Award-winning play, Copenhagen
Moderated by Jay Ingram
Directed by Kevin Orr
Tuesday Oct. 22, 2013, 7:30 pm
Alumni Auditorium, Jock-Turcot University Centre, 85 University, University of Ottawa
Donations accepted at the door
Reception to follow
“Join” our Facebook event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/455270781259464/?ref=22Limited seating!  Register online by Sunday Oct. 20:

The Situating Science national Strategic Knowledge Cluster with the University of Ottawa Institute for Science, Society and Policy invite you to join us for a professionally staged reading of selections from Michael Frayn’s acclaimed play Copenhagen, which will be interwoven with expert panel discussions moderated by science broadcaster and author, Jay Ingram.

Copenhagen is based on the final meeting of Nobel-Prize winning physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in the midst of the 1940s War effort. The issues it raises concerning science, ethics and politics are as pressing as ever.

Stage readings by: Tibor Egervari, Peter Hawaorth, and Beverly Wolfe

Dr. Ted Hsu, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, Science and Technology Critic for the Liberal Party of Canada

Dr. Shohini Ghose, Associate Professor, Department of Physics & Computer Science; Affiliate member, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and Director, Centre for Women in Science, Wilfred Laurier University

Dr. Robert Smith, Professor, Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta

Influencers Panel
Panel of influential decision-makers discussing results of the symposium

Date: Wed. Oct. 23, 2013
Time: 17:30 – 19:00
Location: Desmarais Building, Rm. 12-102 (12th floor), University of Ottawa, 55 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa
Price: Free (registration required)
Reception to follow.
Out of town? Watch live online! (link TBD)

Yves St-Onge
Vice-President, Public Affairs and Marketing, Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation

Scott Findlay
Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Ottawa
Evidence for Democracy

Pat Mooney
Executive Director, ETC Group

Louise Vandelac
Professor, Department of Sociology, Université du Québec à Montréal

Denise Amyot
President and CEO, Association of Canadian Community Colleges

Register today to attend the 3 public evening events …
Not in Ottawa? Some select symposium events will be availble to watch online live (no registration needed). Stay tuned to the event website for more.

This symposium, save for the three public evening events, appears to be for invitees only (there’s no symposium registration page). Presumably nobody wants any members of the public or strangers present when the invitees discuss such topics as these (from the symposium programme):

Science and Its Publics: Dependence, Disenchantment, and Deliverance [emphasis mins]

Desmarais Building Rm. 12
Chair: Dr. Gordon McOuat, Situating Science
Speaker: Dr. Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard Kennedy School
Session 1a: Science and Democracy [emphasis mine]
Desmarais Building Rm. 12
Chair/Speaker: Dr. Heather Douglas, Waterloo
Dr. Frédéric Bouchard, U. de Montréal
Dr. Patrick Feng, U. Calgary
Science, Policy and Citizens: How to improve the Science/Society interface [emphasis mine]
Desmarais Building Rm. 12 – 102
Chairs: Dr. Marc Saner, ISSP and Dr. Gordon McOuat, Situating Science
Speakers: Rapporteurs from previous sessions

It seems odd to be discussing democracy, citizenship, and science without allowing the public to attend any of the sessions. Meanwhile, the symposium’s one and only science and media session features two speakers, Penny Park of the Science Media Centre of Canada and Ivan Semeniuk of the Globe and Mail, who are firmly ensconced members of the mainstream media with no mention of anything else (science blogs?). Arguably, science bloggers could be considered relevant to these discussions since research suggests that interested members of the public are searching for science information online (in blogs and elsewhere) in in increasing numbers. I hope to get a look at the documentation once its been published, assuming there will be public access.

Celebrating 350 years of the Royal Society’s Library

The One Culture Festival, which took place this last weekend (Oct. 2-3, 2011), celebrates the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society’s Library (my Dec. 2, 2010 posting noted the Royal Society kicked off its 350th anniversary with a report). One assumes that the Royal Society was founded some months before the library was created. From the introduction to the festival by Professor Uta Frith,

This year we are celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of the library and collections of the Royal Society. It all started small, with a single book, and a tiny one at that. Diplomat, natural philosopher and founder member of the Royal Society, Kenelm Digby donated this gift and thereby inspired others to do likewise. In this way he initiated what has now grown into a national treasure. What could be more fitting for a celebration than a festival for literature, arts and science! Its apt name ‘One Culture’ confronts the famous C.P. Snow lecture “Two Cultures” (1959), which pointed out that modern society suffered from a lack of communication between sciences and humanities, and reminds us that the separation of science from other cultural achievements is both artificial and unnecessary.

Here’s a description of some of the festival events from Anna Perman’s Oct. 3, 2011 post for the Guardian Science blogs (Notes and Theories; Dispatches from the Science Desk),

This weekend at the Royal Society, the One Culture festival explored the sweeping narratives and the smaller dramas of science and literature, of individual scientists and their great ideas. Science’s most elite club opened its doors to writers like Sebastian Faulks, Michael Frayn, John Banville; dancers from the Rambert Dance Company; Take the Space theatre company; and scientists who manage to combine artistic pursuits with a research career.

In his conversation with Uta Frith on Sunday, Sebastian Faulks described how he starts with a big idea, then narrows his focus to a story that can illustrate it, and the characters who can make that possible: much like a scientist, who starts with a question about how the world works and narrows the focus of their microscope to the tiny part of it that can answer that question. Through focusing on single molecules of human existence, Faulks reveals the wider truths about humanity.

For the Rambert Dance Company, and their scientist in residence Nicky Clayton, the big ideas of science have informed some of their most challenging dances. For them, the boundaries of “science” and “art” are artificial – what links them is far more basic. As Mark Baldwin, director of Rambert, put it:

“The commonalities at the base of it all are enormous. We’re talking about ideas.”

The ideas they both get excited about are big, abstract ones. Clayton, as scientist in residence at Rambert, talks to the dancers about scientific ideas. She has to think carefully about what can be put into movement. For her, these movements are not just a way of communicating, or illustrating these ideas. They are about inspiration. And this inspiration has found its way back into her science, as shown by this video from Cambridge University (note the opening Stephen Fry voiceover!) [I will be placing the video a little further down.]

Both in this article and in Frith’s introduction there’s a description of C. P. Snow’s 1959 book (originally a lecture), Two Cultures as being about the two cultures of art and science. I read it a few years ago and found that Snow also opined at length about the developed and developing worlds, science education, and worries over Britain’s science primacy being threatened. I probably wouldn’t have noticed the other themes since the art/science theme is the first idea he mentions and he offers personal anecdotes about his experiences, which makes it more memorable, if I hadn’t come across a commentary pointing out these other themes in the book. (I did post about Two Cultures, May 8, 2009 on its 50th anniversary. [scroll down about 1/3 of the way])

Here’s the video featuring Nicky Clayton, scientist-in-residence with the Rambert Dance Company. Prepare yourself for birds and Argentine tango.