Tag Archives: Situating Science

Canadian ‘studies of science’ news: career opportunity for postdoc (2nd call), summer school in India, and a Situating Science update

The deadline for a posdoctoral fellowship with Atlantic Canada’s Cosmoplitanism group (which morphed out of the Situating Science group) is coming up shortly (March 2, 2015). I wrote about this opportunity in a Dec. 12, 2014 post part of which I will reproduce here,

Postdoctoral Fellowship

Science and Technology Studies (STS) / History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, Medicine (HPSTM)

University of King’s College / Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
Duration: 1 year, with option to renew for second year pending budget and project restrictions and requirements
Application Deadline: Monday March 2 2015

The University of King’s College and Dalhousie University announce a postdoctoral fellowship award in Science and Technology Studies (STS)/ History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine (HPSTM), associated with the SSHRC [Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council] Partnership Development Grant, “Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature: Creating an East/West Partnership,” a partnership development between institutions in Canada, India and Southeast Asia aimed at establishing an East/West research network on “Cosmopolitanism” in science. The project closely examines the ideas, processes and negotiations that inform the development of science and scientific cultures within an increasingly globalized landscape. A detailed description of the project can be found at: www.CosmoLocal.org.

Funding and Duration:
The position provides a base salary equivalent to $35,220 plus benefits (EI, CPP, Medical and Dental), and with the possibility of augmenting the salary through teaching or other awards, depending on the host department. The fellow would be entitled to benefits offered by University of King’s College or Dalhousie University. The successful applicant will begin their 12-month appointment between April 1st and July 1st, 2015, subject to negotiation and candidate’s schedule. Contingent on budget and project requirements, the fellowship may be extended for a second year with an annual increase as per institutional standards.

Eligibility:
The appointment will be housed at University of King’s College and/or in one of the departments of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University. The successful applicant is expected to have completed a Ph.D. in STS, HPS or a cognate field, within the last five years and before taking up the fellowship. Please note that the Postdoctoral Fellowship can only be held at Dalhousie University in the six years following completion of his or her PhD. For example a person who finished his or her PhD in 2010 is eligible to be a Postdoctoral Fellow until December 2016.

In addition to carrying out independent or collaborative research under the supervision of one or more of the Cosmopolitanism co-applicants, the successful candidate will be expected to take a leadership role in the Cosmopolitanism project, to actively coordinate the development of the project, and participate in its activities as well as support networking and outreach.International candidates need a work permit and SIN.

Research:
While the research topic is open and we encourage applications from a wide range of subfields, we particularly welcome candidates with expertise and interest in the topics addressed in the Cosmopolitanism project. The candidate will be expected to work under the supervision of one of the Cosmopolitanism co-applicants. Information on each is available on the “About” page of the project’s website (www.CosmoLocal.org).

Good luck! You can find more application information here.

Now for the summer school opportunity in India, (from a Feb. 18, 2015 Cosmopolitanism announcement).

Call for applications:
“Scientific Objects and Digital Cosmopolitanism” Summer School

Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities,
Manipal, India
July 20-24, 2015

Please spread the word in your communities.

 

Scientific Objects and Digital Cosmopolitanism

Co-organized by the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities and Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature.

Dates
July 20-24, 2015

Deadline for applications
Monday March 23, 2015

Organizers
Sundar Sarukkai, Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities
Gordon McOuat, University of King’s College

Coordinator
Varun Bhatta, Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities

Description:
Applications from post-graduate and doctoral students in the fields of philosophy, philosophy of science and social sciences, history and philosophy of science, science and technology studies, and cognate fields are invited to a five-day summer school in India, made possible by collaborations between institutions and scholars in Canada, India and Southeast Asia. This will be an excellent opportunity for graduate students interested in receiving advanced training in the philosophy of science and science and technology studies, with a focus on scientific objects and their relation to cosmopolitanism.

The paradigm of scientific objects has undergone a major transformation in recent times. Today, scientific objects are not limited to microscopic or major astronomical objects. A new category of objects involves ontological modes of data, grids, simulation, visualization, etc. Such modes of objects are not merely peripheral props or outcomes of scientific endeavour. They actively constitute scientific theorizing, experimentation and instrumentation, and catalyze notions of cosmopolitanism in the digital world. Cosmopolitanism in this context is defined as a model of cultural and political engagement based on multidirectional exchange and contact across borders. A cosmopolitan approach treats science as a contingent, multifaceted and multicultural network of exchange. The summer school will engage with philosophical themes around the nature of new scientific objects and digital cosmopolitanism.

“The event is organized by the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities (Manipal University) and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada-funded Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature, a three-year project to establish a research network on cosmopolitanism in science with partners in Canada, India, and Southeast Asia. The project closely examines the actual types of negotiations that go into the making of science and its culture within an increasingly globalized landscape.

Program and Faculty:
Each of the days will be split among:
(a) Background sessions led by Arun Bala, Gordon McOuat and Sundar Sarukkai,
(b) Sessions led by other faculty members with recognized expertise in the theme, and
(c) Sessions devoted to student research projects.

There will be plenty of opportunities for interaction and participation. The seminar will be held in English and readings will be circulated in advance. Special events will be organized to complement session content. There also will be opportunities for exploring the incredible richness and diversity of the region.

Selection Criteria:
We seek outstanding graduate students from Canada, India and Southeast Asia. We will prioritize applications from graduate students in disciplines or with experience in philosophy, philosophy of science, social studies, the history and philosophy of science, or science and technology studies.

Location and Accommodations:
The event will be hosted by the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities in the picturesque ocean-side state of Karnataka in south-western India. Students will be housed in student residences. The space is wheelchair accessible.

Fees:
A registration fee of Rs 1500 for Indian students and $100 CAD for international students will be charged. This fee will include accommodations and some meals.

Financial Coverage:

Students from India:
Travel for India-based students will be covered by the summer school sponsors.

Students from Canada and Southeast Asia:
Pending government funding, travel costs may be defrayed for students from Canada or Southeast Asia. Students should indicate in their applications whether they have access to travel support (confirmed or unconfirmed) from home institutions or funding agencies. This will not affect the selection process. Acceptance letters will include more information on travel support.

Students from outside Canada, India and Southeast Asia:
Students from outside Canada, India and Southeast Asia will be expected to provide their own funding.

Students at home institutions of “Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature” team members are strongly encouraged to contact the local team member to discuss funding options. Information on the project’s partners and team members is available on the project’s “About Us” page: www.CosmoLocal.org/about-us.

Any travel support will be considered as co-sponsorship to this international training event and acknowledged accordingly. Further information on funding will be included with acceptance letters.

Timeline:
Deadline for applications: March 23, 2015
Notification of acceptance: Week of April 6, 2015
Deadline for registration forms: May 11, 2015

Procedure:
Applications should include the following, preferably sent as PDFs:
1. Description of research interests and their relevance to the school (max. 300 words)
2. Brief Curriculum Vitae / resume highlighting relevant skills, experience and training,
3. One signed letter of recommendation from a supervisor, director of graduate studies, or other faculty member familiar with applicant’s research interests.

Applications should be sent to:
MCPH Office, mcphoffice@gmail.com
with a copy to
Varun Bhatta, varunsbhatta@gmail.com

For more information, please contact :
Greta Regan
Project Manager
Cosmopolitanism and the Local
University of King’s College
situsci@dal.ca

and/or

Dr. Gordon McOuat, History of Science and Technology Programme,
University of King’s College
gmcouat@dal.ca

The last bit of information for this post concerns the Situating Science research cluster mentioned here many times. Situating Science was a seven-year project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) which has become the Canadian Consortium for Situating Science and Technology (CCSST) and has some sort of a relationship (some of the Situating Science organizers have moved over) to the Cosmopolitanism project. The consortium seems to be a somewhat diminished version of the cluster so you may want to check it out now while some of the information is still current.

Science Culture: Where Canada Stands; an expert assessment, Part 3 of 3: where were …?

I did have some major issues with this report. I’ve already touched on the makeup of the Expert Panel in my Feb. 22, 2013 post (Expert panel to assess the state of Canada’s science culture—not exactly whelming). There could have been more women on the panel (also noted in part 2 of this commentary) and they could have included a few culture makers (writers, visual artists, performing artists). Also mentioned in part 2 of this commentary, it would have been nice to have seen a few people from the aboriginal communities and a greater age range represented on the panel or on advisory committees.

In a discussion about science culture, I am somewhat shocked that the Situating Science; Science in Human Contexts research cluster was never mentioned. From the programme’s About Us page,

Created in 2007 with the generous funding of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Strategic Knowledge Cluster grant, Situating Science is a seven-year project promoting communication and collaboration among humanists and social scientists that are engaged in the study of science and technology.

A Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) seven-year programme devoted to Canada’s science culture and it wasn’t mentioned??? An oversight or a symptom of a huge disconnection within Canada’s science culture? I vote for disconnection but please do let me know what you think in the comments section.

As for the assessment’s packaging (cover, foreword, and final words), yikes! The theme colour (each CAC assessment has a theme colour; their policing assessment is blue) for Canada’s science culture is red, perhaps evoking the Canadian maple leaf on the flag. The picture on the cover depicts a very sweet, blond(e), white child with glasses too big for his/her face rimmed in thick black. Glasses are a long established symbol for nerds/intellectual people. So, it would seem Canada’s science culture is blond, nerdy, and, given the child’s clothing, likely male, though in this day and age not definitively so. Or perhaps the child’s hair is meant to signify the maple leaf on the flag with a reversed field (the cover) being red and the leaf being white.

The problem here is not a single image of a blond(e) child, the problem is the frequency with which blond(e) children are used to signify Canadians. Thankfully, advertising images are becoming more diverse but there’s still a long way to go.

There are also issues with the beginning and the end of the report. Two scientists bookend the report: both male, both physicists, one from the UK and the other from the US.

C. P. Snow and his 1959 lecture ‘Two Cultures’ about science and society is mentioned by the Expert Panel’s Chair, Arthur Carty (himself from the UK). In his foreword/message, Carty speculates about how C. P. Snow would respond to today’s science culture environment in a fashion that brings to mind William Lyon MacKenzie King, Canada’s Prime Minister from December 1921 – June 1926;  September 1926 – August 1930; and October 1935 – November 1948, Mackenzie King regularly communed with the dead. From the Wikipedia entry on William Lyon Mackenzie King (Note: Links have been removed),

Privately, he was highly eccentric, with his preference for communing with spirits, using seances and table-rapping, including those of Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, his dead mother, his grandfather William Lyon Mackenzie, and several of his Irish Terrier dogs, all named Pat except for one named Bob. He also claimed to commune with the spirit of the late President Roosevelt. He sought personal reassurance from the spirit world, rather than seeking political advice. Indeed, after his death, one of his mediums said that she had not realized that he was a politician. King asked whether his party would win the 1935 election, one of the few times politics came up during his seances. His occult interests were kept secret during his years in office, and only became publicized later. Historians have seen in his occult activities a penchant for forging unities from antitheses, thus having latent political import. In 1953, Time stated that he owned—and used—both an Ouija board and a crystal ball.

However, historian Charles Perry Stacey, author of the 1976 book A Very Double Life, which examined King’s secret life in detail, with work based on intensive examination of the King diaries, concluded, despite long-running interests in the occult and spiritualism, that King did not allow his beliefs to influence his decisions on political matters. Stacey wrote that King entirely gave up his interests in the occult and spiritualism during World War II.[80]

At the end of the report, Carty quotes Brian Greene, a US physicist,  p. 218 (PDF) thereby neatly framing Canada between the UK and the US,

However, as stated by physicist Brian Greene (2008), one of the simplest reasons for developing a stronger science culture is that doing so helps foster a fuller, richer experience of science itself:

Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that’s precise, predictive, and reliable — a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional. To be able to think through and grasp explanations — for everything from why the sky is blue to how life formed on earth — not because they are declared dogma, but because they reveal patterns confirmed by experiment and observation, is one of the most precious of human experiences.

Couldn’t we have found one Canadian thinker or perhaps a thinker from somewhere else on the globe? Assuming there’s a next time, I hope the approach evolves to something more reflective of Canadian society.

In the meantime there is more, much more in the assessment  including a discussion of science-based policy and including the arts to turn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to STEAM and I encourage you take a look at either the full version, the executive summary, or the abridged version, all of which can be found here.

Postdoctoral position for Cosmopolitanism in Science project in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

It seems to be the week for job postings. After months and months with nothing, I stumble across two in one week. The latest comes from the Situating Science research cluster (more about the research cluster after the job posting). From a Dec. 10, 2014 Situating Science announcement,

Postdoctoral Fellowship

Science and Technology Studies (STS) / History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, Medicine (HPSTM)

University of King’s College / Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
Duration: 1 year, with option to renew for second year pending budget and project restrictions and requirements
Application Deadline: Monday March 2 2015

The University of King’s College and Dalhousie University announce a postdoctoral fellowship award in Science and Technology Studies (STS)/ History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine (HPSTM), associated with the SSHRC [Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council] Partnership Development Grant, “Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature: Creating an East/West Partnership,” a partnership development between institutions in Canada, India and Southeast Asia aimed at establishing an East/West research network on “Cosmopolitanism” in science. The project closely examines the ideas, processes and negotiations that inform the development of science and scientific cultures within an increasingly globalized landscape. A detailed description of the project can be found at: www.CosmoLocal.org.

Funding and Duration:
The position provides a base salary equivalent to $35,220 plus benefits (EI, CPP, Medical and Dental), and with the possibility of augmenting the salary through teaching or other awards, depending on the host department. The fellow would be entitled to benefits offered by University of King’s College or Dalhousie University. The successful applicant will begin their 12-month appointment between April 1st and July 1st, 2015, subject to negotiation and candidate’s schedule. Contingent on budget and project requirements, the fellowship may be extended for a second year with an annual increase as per institutional standards.

Eligibility:
The appointment will be housed at University of King’s College and/or in one of the departments of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University. The successful applicant is expected to have completed a Ph.D. in STS, HPS or a cognate field, within the last five years and before taking up the fellowship. Please note that the Postdoctoral Fellowship can only be held at Dalhousie University in the six years following completion of his or her PhD. For example a person who finished his or her PhD in 2010 is eligible to be a Postdoctoral Fellow until December 2016.

In addition to carrying out independent or collaborative research under the supervision of one or more of the Cosmopolitanism co-applicants, the successful candidate will be expected to take a leadership role in the Cosmopolitanism project, to actively coordinate the development of the project, and participate in its activities as well as support networking and outreach.International candidates need a work permit and SIN.

Research:
While the research topic is open and we encourage applications from a wide range of subfields, we particularly welcome candidates with expertise and interest in the topics addressed in the Cosmopolitanism project. The candidate will be expected to work under the supervision of one of the Cosmopolitanism co-applicants. Information on each is available on the “About” page of the project’s website (www.CosmoLocal.org).

Application:

Full applications will contain:
1.     Cover letter that includes a description of current research projects,
2.     Research plan for post-doctoral work. Include how the proposed research fits within the Cosmopolitanism project’s scope, and which co-applicant with whom you wish to work.
3.     Academic CV,
4.     Writing sample,
5.     Names and contact information of three referees.

Applications can be submitted in either hardcopy or emailed as PDF documents:

Hardcopy:
Dr. Gordon McOuat
Cosmopolitanism and the Local Project
University of King’s College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax, NS.  B3H 2A1
CANADA

News of this partnership is exciting especially in light of the objectives as described on the Cosmopolitanism & the Local in Science & Nature website’s About Us page,

Specifically, the project will:

  1. Expose a hitherto largely Eurocentric scholarly community in Canada to widening international perspectives and methods, [emphasis mine]
  2. Build on past successes at border-crossings and exchanges between the participants,
  3. Facilitate a much needed nation-wide organization and exchange amongst Indian and South East Asian scholars, in concert with their Canadian counterparts, by integrating into an international network,
  4. Open up new perspectives on the genesis and place of globalized science, and thereby
  5. Offer alternative ways to conceptualize and engage globalization itself, and especially the globalization of knowledge and science.
  6. Bring the managerial team together for joint discussion, research exchange, leveraging and planning – all in the aid of laying the grounds of a sustainable partnership

I’m not sure ‘expose’ is the verb I’d use here since it’s perfectly obvious that the Canadian scholarly community is eurocentric. For confirmation all you have to do is look at the expert panels convened by the Council of Canadian Academies for their various assessments (e.g. The Expert Panel on the State of Canada’s Science Culture). Instead of ‘expose’, I’d use ‘Shift conscious and unconscious assumptions within a largely eurocentric Canadian scholarly community to widening perspectives’.

As for Situating Science, there is this (from its About Us page; Note: Links have been removed),

Created in 2007 with the generous funding of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Strategic Knowledge Cluster grant, Situating Science is a seven-year project promoting communication and collaboration among humanists and social scientists that are engaged in the study of science and technology.

At the end of our 7 years, we can boast a number of collaborative successes. We helped organize and support over 20 conferences and workshops, 4 national lecture series, 6 summer schools, and dozens of other events. Our network helped facilitate the development of 4 new programs of study at partner institutions. We leveraged more than one million dollars from Nodal partner universities plus more than one million dollars from over 200 supporting and partnering organizations. We hired over 30 students and 9 postdoctoral fellows. The events resulted in over 60 videos and podcasts as well as dozens of student blogs and over 50 publications.

I see the Situating Science project is coming to an end and I’m sorry to see it go. I think I will write more about Situating Science in one of my end-of-year posts. Getting back to the postdoc position, good luck to all the applicants!

Canada’s Situating Science in Fall 2014

Canada’s Situating Science cluster (network of humanities and social science researchers focused on the study of science) has a number of projects mentioned and in its Fall 2014 newsletter,

1. Breaking News
It’s been yet another exciting spring and summer with new developments for the Situating Science SSHRC Strategic Knowledge Cluster team and HPS/STS [History of Philosophy of Science/Science and Technology Studies] research. And we’ve got even more good news coming down the pipeline soon…. For now, here’s the latest.

1.1. New 3 yr. Cosmopolitanism Partnership with India and Southeast Asia
We are excited to announce that the Situating Science project has helped to launch a new 3 yr. 200,000$ SSHRC Partnership Development Grant on ‘Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature’ with institutions and scholars in Canada, India and Singapore. Built upon relations that the Cluster has helped establish over the past few years, the project will closely examine the actual types of negotiations that go into the making of science and its culture within an increasingly globalized landscape. A recent workshop on Globalizing History and Philosophy of Science at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore helped to mark the soft launch of the project (see more in this newsletter).

ARI along with Manipal University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of King’s College, Dalhousie University, York University, University of Toronto, and University of Alberta, form the partnership from which the team will seek new connections and longer term collaborations. The project’s website will feature a research database, bibliography, syllabi, and event information for the project’s workshops, lecture series, summer schools, and artifact work. When possible, photos, blogs, podcasts and videos from events will be posted online as well. The project will have its own mailing list so be sure to subscribe to that too. Check it all out: www.CosmoLocal.org

2.1. Globalizing History and Philosophy of Science workshop in Singapore August 21-22 2014
On August 21 and 22, scholars from across the globe gathered at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore to explore key issues in global histories and philosophies of the sciences. The setting next to the iconic Singapore Botanical Gardens provided a welcome atmosphere to examine how and why globalizing the humanities and social studies of science generates intellectual and conceptual tensions that require us to revisit, and possibly rethink, the leading notions that have hitherto informed the history, philosophy and sociology of science.

The keynote by Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA) helped to situate discussions within a larger issue of paradigms of civilization. Workshop papers explored commensurability, translation, models of knowledge exchange, indigenous epistemologies, commercial geography, translation of math and astronomy, transmission and exchange, race, and data. Organizer Arun Bala and participants will seek out possibilities for publishing the proceedings. The event partnered with La Trobe University and Situating Science, and it helped to launch a new 3 yr. Cosmopolitanism project. For more information visit: www.CosmoLocal.org

2.2. Happy Campers: The Summer School Experience

We couldn’t help but feel like we were little kids going to summer camp while our big yellow school bus kicked up dust driving down a dirt road on a hot summer’s day. In this case it would have been a geeky science camp. We were about to dive right into day-long discussions of key pieces from Science and Technology Studies and History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.

Over four and a half days at one of the Queen’s University Biology Stations at the picturesque Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre, 18 students from across Canada explored the four themes of the Cluster. Each day targeted a Cluster theme, which was introduced by organizer Sergio Sismondo (Sociology and Philosophy, Queen’s). Daryn Lehoux (Classics, Queen’s) explained key concepts in Historical Epistemology and Ontology. Using references of the anti-magnetic properties of garlic (or garlic’s antipathy with the loadstone) from the ancient period, Lehoux discussed the importance and significance of situating the meaning of a thing within specific epistemological contexts. Kelly Bronson (STS, St. Thomas University) explored modes of science communication and the development of the Public Engagement with Science and Technology model from the deficit model of Public Understanding of Science and Technology during sessions on Science Communication and its Publics. Nicole Nelson (University of Wisconsin-Madison) explained Material Culture and Scientific/Technological Practices by dissecting the meaning of animal bodies and other objects as scientific artifacts. Gordon McOuat wrapped up the last day by examining the nuances of the circulation and translation of knowledge and ‘trading zones’ during discussions of Geographies and Sites of Knowledge.

2.3. Doing Science in and on the Oceans
From June 14 to June 17, U. King’s College hosted an international workshop on the place and practice of oceanography in celebration of the work of Dr. Eric Mills, Dalhousie Professor Emeritus in Oceanography and co-creator of the History of Science and Technology program. Leading ocean scientists, historians and museum professionals came from the States, Europe and across Canada for “Place and Practice: Doing Science in and on the Ocean 1800-2012”. The event successfully connected different generations of scholars, explored methodologies of material culture analysis and incorporated them into mainstream historical work. There were presentations and discussions of 12 papers, an interdisciplinary panel discussion with keynote lecture by Dr. Mills, and a presentation at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic by Canada Science and Technology Museum curator, David Pantalony. Paper topics ranged from exploring the evolving methodology of oceanographic practice to discussing ways that the boundaries of traditional scientific writing have been transcended. The event was partially organized and supported by the Atlantic Node and primary support was awarded by the SSHRC Connection Grant.

2.4. Evidence Dead or Alive: The Lives of Evidence National Lecture Series

The 2014 national lecture series on The Lives of Evidence wrapped up on a high note with an interdisciplinary panel discussion of Dr. Stathis Psillos’ exploration of the “Death of Evidence” controversy and the underlying philosophy of scientific evidence. The Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Science spoke at the University of Toronto with panelists from law, philosophy and HPS. “Evidence: Wanted Dead of Alive” followed on the heels of his talk at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy “From the ‘Bankruptcy of Science’ to the ‘Death of Evidence’: Science and its Value”.

In 6 parts, The Lives of Evidence series examined the cultural, ethical, political, and scientific role of evidence in our world. The series formed as response to the recent warnings about the “Death of Evidence” and “War on Science” to explore what was meant by “evidence”, how it is interpreted, represented and communicated, how trust is created in research, what the relationship is between research, funding and policy and between evidence, explanations and expertise. It attracted collaborations from such groups as Evidence for Democracy, the University of Toronto Evidence Working Group, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, Dalhousie University Health Law Institute, Rotman Institute of Philosophy and many more.

A December [2013] symposium, “Hype in Science”, marked the soft launch of the series. In the all-day public event in Halifax, leading scientists, publishers and historians and philosophers of science discussed several case studies of how science is misrepresented and over-hyped in top science journals. Organized by the recent winner of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Ford Doolittle, the interdisciplinary talks in “Hype” explored issues of trustworthiness in science publications, scientific authority, science communication, and the place of research in the broader public.

The series then continued to explore issues from the creation of the HIV-Crystal Meth connection (Cindy Patton, SFU), Psychiatric Research Abuse (Carl Elliott, U. Minnesota), Evidence, Accountability and the Future of Canadian Science (Scott Findlay, Evidence for Democracy), Patents and Commercialized Medicine (Jim Brown, UofT), and Clinical Trials (Joel Lexchin, York).

All 6 parts are available to view on the Situating Science YouTube channel.You can read a few blogs from the events on our website too. Some of those involved are currently discussing possibilities of following up on some of the series’ issues.

2.5. Other Past Activities and Events
The Frankfurt School: The Critique of Capitalist Culture (July, UBC)

De l’exclusion à l’innovation théorique: le cas de l’éconophysique ; Prosocial attitudes and patterns of academic entrepreneurship (April, UQAM)

Critical Itineraries Technoscience Salon – Ontologies (April, UofT)

Technologies of Trauma: Assessing Wounds and Joining Bones in Late Imperial China (April, UBC)

For more, check out: www.SituSci.ca

You can find some of the upcoming talks and the complete Fall 2014 Situating Science newsletter here.

About one week after receiving the newsletter, I got this notice (Sept. 11, 2014),

We are ecstatic to announce that the Situating Science SSHRC Strategic Knowledge Cluster is shortlisted for a highly competitive SSHRC Partnership Impact Award!

And what an impact we’ve had over the past seven years: Organizing and supporting over 20 conferences and workshops, 4 national lecture series, 6 summer schools, and dozens of other events. Facilitating the development of 4 new programs of study at partner institutions. Leveraging more than one million dollars from Nodal partner universities plus more than one million dollars from over 200 supporting and partnering organizations. Hiring over 30 students and 9 postdoctoral fellows. Over 60 videos and podcasts as well as dozens of student blogs and over 50 publications. Launching a new Partnership Development Grant between Canada, India and Southeast Asia. Developing a national consortium…And more!

The winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony in Ottawa on Monday, November 3, 2014.

From the Sept. 11, 2014 Situating Science press release:

University of King’s College [Nova Scotia, Canada] professor Dr. Gordon McOuat has been named one of three finalists for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s (SSHRC) Partnership Award, one of five Impact Awards annually awarded by SSHRC.

Congratulations on the nomination and I wish Gordon McQuat and Situating Science good luck in the competition.

Evidence: Wanted, Dead or Alive lecture reprised (more or less) at the University of Toronto (Canada) and livestreamed on April 16, 2014

I announced (in a March 26, 2014 posting) a lecture earlier in April (From the ‘Bankruptcy of Science’ to the ‘Death of Evidence’: Science and its Value) by Stathis Psillos being held as part of the Situating Science (humanities research cluster) Lives of Evidence lecture series in Ottawa. The upcoming April 16, 2014 talk features a somewhat different title and a panel discussion at the University of Toronto and is the last in the series. From the April 14, 2014 announcement,

Don’t miss the final part in the national lecture series on The Lives of Evidence. Come one, come all!

Evidence: Wanted, Dead or Alive
Stathis Psillos, Rotman Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Science, Department of Philosophy, Western University
Wed. April 16 2014, 5 PM [EDT; 2 pm PDT]
Room 001, Emmanuel College,
University of Toronto, 75 Queen’s Park Crescent, Toronto, Ont.
Free.
Reception to follow.

Panel discussion with:
Helena Likwornik, Legal counsel, Ontario Court of Appeal; and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, The University of Toronto
Maya Goldenberg, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph
Brian Baigrie, Professor, The Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, The University of Toronto

One other thing makes this Psillos lecture different, you can,

Watch live online:
http://mediacast.ic.utoronto.ca/20140416-HPST/index.htm

Patents, Progress, and Commercialized Medicine livestream March 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm PST

Canada’s Situating Science; Science in Human Contexts research cluster is livestreaming another of their lectures in the Lives of Evidence series on Thursday, March 20, 2014, from the March 18, 2014 announcement,

Patents, Progress, and Commercialized Medicine
James Robert Brown, Professor of Philosophy at University of Toronto
Thursday, March 20 2014, 7:30 PM [AST or 3:30 pm PST]
Alumni Hall, New Academic Building, University of King’s College, 6350 Coburg Rd., Halifax, NS
Part 4 of The Lives of Evidence national lecture series.
Free.

Here’s a link to,

Watch live!

For anyone who likes to check these things out beforehand, here’s a description of the lecture (from the Patents, Progress and Commercialized Medicine event page),

Recent headline-making studies indicate that there is a crisis in medical research. Health issues are increasingly dominated by commercial interests, and this jeopardizes research, evidence and, ultimately, peoples’ health. Patentable solutions, typically drugs, are proposed for health problems while other approaches are ignored. This raises pressing questions: How can we ensure high-quality medicine in light of corporate research funding and massive financial conflicts of interest? How does this effect medicine, ethics, public policy, and politics? Is socialized medical research a viable solution?

Anyone familiar with this blog knows I’ve written many times about patent thickets, patent trolls, and other ways in which patents have been used to block new work and new products. I have written more rarely (i.e., once) about the lack of interest in pursuing nonpatentable solutions to diseases and that was an April 12, 2013 posting about artemisin and malaria.

For anyone interested in the series, Lives of Evidence, here’s more from the series page,

The Lives of Evidence National Lecture Series

Many questions are raised in light of the recent warnings about the “the death of evidence” and “War on Science”. What do we mean by “evidence”? How is evidence interpreted, represented and communicated? How do we create trust in research? What’s the relationship between research, funding and policy? Between evidence, explanations and expertise?

These are but some of the questions explored in the Situating Science national lecture series The Lives of Evidence. The national Situating Science project (www.SituSci.ca) and supporters are launching a multi-part national lecture series examining the cultural, ethical, political, and scientific role of evidence in our world, all of which impact citizens.

“Recent concerns about transparency, conflicts between experts, political interference in the scientific process, and dire warnings about the ‘death of evidence’,” says Situating Science Director Gordon McOuat, “have made it all the more crucial that we examine the origins, meaning and trust in our concepts of ‘evidence’. This lecture series will bring multiple perspectives – historical, philosophical, ethical, scientific – to explore our understanding of evidence and why so much is hinged on ‘getting it right’.”

The page provides a complete list of past and future events.

Governing in the Dark; a March 5, 2014 national (Canada) lecture

I think it’s pretty easy to guess the perspective from the title of the lecture, Governing in the Dark: Evidence, Accountability and the Future of Canadian Science (the third in a series titled, The Lives of Evidence) being offered by the Situating Science project on March 5,2014. Here’s more about it from the event page,

The national Situating Science project and partners are pleased to present the third talk in the national lecture series:

The Lives of Evidence
A multi-part national lecture series examining the cultural, ethical, political, and scientific role of evidence in our world.

Part 3:
Governing in the Dark: Evidence, Accountability and the Future of Canadian Science

Scott Findlay, Co-founder of Evidence for Democracy and Associate Professor of Biology, University of Ottawa.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 7:30 PM
Ondaatje Hall, McCain Building, Dalhousie University, 6135 University Ave.,
Halifax, NS

Free.                                    
Watch live online here! (7:30 PM Atlantic / 6:30 PM ET)

Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the Canadian government’s attitude towards science. They are concerned about declining federal investment in public interest science; a shift away from federal funding of basic research to business-oriented research; policies that restrict the communication of scientific information among government scientists and to the public; and – despite assurances to the contrary from federal ministers – an increasingly cavalier attitude towards science-informed decision-making. Are these symptoms of an ongoing erosion of basic democratic principles? What are some possible therapeutic and preventative interventions?

Supported by:
Dalhousie University Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Evidence for Democracy, and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs

I last mentioned the speaker, Scott Findlay, in an Oct. 4, 2013 posting in the context of a series of protests (Stand up for Science) organized for Fall 2013.

Wanted: graduate students for Canada’s 2014 Situating Science summer school

First, the deadline is April 14, 2014 and, if I read the criteria correctly, this programme is restricted to students at Canadian universities. Assuming you fit the criteria of being a graduate student at a Canadian university, here’s the rest (from the Feb. 4, 2014 call for applications),

Know a grad student who’s outside of or new to the field of History and Philosophy of Science or Science and Technology Studies and wants to learn more?

Help us spread the word about this special 5 day summer school – no fees! See more information including selection criteria below.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS
SITUATING SCIENCE SUMMER SCHOOL 2014:
SCIENCE IN HUMAN CONTEXTS
(www.SituSci.ca)

June 22-26 2014
Elbow Lake, Ontario, Canada

Deadline for applications:
Monday, April 14, 2014

Organizer
Sergio Sismondo, Professor of Philosophy and Sociology, Queen’s University

Coordination Assistance
Emily Tector, Project Coordinator, Situating Science

Description:
Applications from students across Canada and across humanities and social science disciplines are invited for this 5-day summer school, which will provide advanced training in the fields of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) and Science and Technology Studies (STS) in a picturesque retreat near Kingston, Ontario. The seminar is an excellent opportunity for graduate students interested in learning about general issues and key areas in these fields.

The event is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)-funded Situating Science Strategic Knowledge Cluster, a national network connecting and promoting the humanities and social studies of science and technology. Headquartered at the University of King’s College, the project has partners and “nodes” across the country. The week will address each of the four themes of the Situating Science Cluster:
1 – Historical Epistemology and Ontology
2 – Material Culture and Scientific/Technological Practices
3 – Scientific Communication and its Publics
4 – Geography and Sites of Knowing

Program and Faculty:
Each of the four full days will be split among:
(a) Background sessions led by Sergio Sismondo
(b) Sessions on one of themes above, led by a visiting faculty member with recognized expertise in the theme, and
(c) Sessions devoted to student research projects.

There will be plenty of opportunities for interaction and participation. The seminar will be held in English, and readings will be circulated in advance.

Special events such as a film showing and an excursion will be organized to complement session content. We are currently considering including a trip to either the Miller Museum of Geology or the Queen’s University Department of Physics instruments collection. There also will be swimming and hiking opportunities.

Selection Criteria:
We hope to recruit outstanding young scholars from across Canada. Although applications are open to all, we will prioritize applications from graduate students in disciplines other than HPS or STS, and from Canadian institutions with small or non-existent HPS or STS programs, so that the summer school can offer a rich educational experience for those new to the field.

Location and Accommodations:
The seminar will be held at the Elbow Lake Nature Conservancy of Canada Reserve (http://www.queensu.ca/qubs/about/facilities/elbow-2.html), a rustic retreat facility near Kingston, Ontario affiliated with the Queen’s University Biological Station. Students will be housed in shared cabins and will be expected to help with some meal preparation. The space is not wheelchair accessible. We will arrange transportation to and from Kingston, Ontario.

Financial Coverage:
Student accommodations and meals during the summer school will be paid for by the Situating Science Cluster, as will most if not all of economy class budget-friendly travel. More information will be made available with acceptance letters.

Timeline:
Deadline for applications: Monday, April 14, 2014
Notification of acceptance: Week of April 21, 2014
Deadline for registration forms: Monday, May 5, 2014

Procedure:
Applications should include the following, preferably sent all in one PDF:
1. Description of research interests and relevance to them of the seminar (max. 300 words)
2. Brief Curriculum Vitae / resume highlighting relevant skills, experience and training,
3. One signed letter of recommendation from a supervisor, director of graduate studies, or other faculty member familiar with applicant’s research interests.

Applications should be sent to:
Sergio Sismondo: sismondo@queensu.ca
with a copy to
Emily Tector: situsci@dal.ca

Puis, en français,

APPEL AUX APPLICATIONS
COURS D’ÉTÉ 2014 SITUER LA SCIENCE :
LA SCIENCE DANS UN CONTEXTE HUMAIN
(www.SituSci.ca)

Du 22 au 26 juin 2014
Elbow Lake, Ontario, Canada

Date butoir pour les applications :
Lundi 14 Avril 2013

Organisateur
Sergio Sismondo, Professeur de Philosophie et Sociologie, Université Queen’s

Assistante de Coordination
Emily Tector, Coordonatrice de Projet, Situer la Science

Description:
Les étudiants en Lettres et en Sciences humaines et sociales de tout le Canada sont invités à soumettre leurs applications pour ce cours d’été de 5 jours qui fournira une formation approfondie dans les disciplines de l’Histoire et la Philosophie des Sciences et Science,  Technologie et Société dans un cadre pittoresque près de Kingston, Ontario. Le séminaire est l’occasion idéale pour les étudiants diplômés de développer les questions générales et les points fondamentaux de ces domaines.
L’événement est soutenu par le Conseil de Recherches en Sciences Humaines du Canada (CRSHC)- financé par le Réseau Stratégique des connaissances de Situer la Science, un réseau national qui connecte et promeut les Études en Lettres et Sciences Humaines et en Science, Technologie et Société. Basé à l’Université de King’s College, le projet a des partenaires et des « nœuds » dans tout le pays.

La semaine se concentrera sur les quatre thèmes de Situer la Science :

• L’épistémologie historique et l’ontologie
• La culture matérielle et les pratiques scientifiques/technologiques
• La communication scientifique et son public
• Les géographies et lieux de savoir

Programme et Faculté :

Chacun des quatre jours complets sera divisé comme suit :

a)     Session de mise en contexte tenue par Sergio Sismondo
b)    Session sur l’un des thèmes précédemment mentionnés, tenue par un invité membre de faculté expert sur le sujet, et

c)     Session dédiée aux projets de recherche des étudiants

Les opportunités d’interagir et de participer ne manqueront pas. Le séminaire sera tenu en anglais et les lectures seront distribuées en avance.

Des événements spéciaux tels que des projections de films et des excursions seront organisés en complément du contenu du cours. Nous pensons actuellement inclure une visite, soit du Musée Miller de Géologie, soit de la collection de physique de l’Université Queen’s. Il sera aussi possible de nager et de faire des randonnées.

Critères de Sélection :
Nous souhaitons recruter de jeunes érudits provenant de tout le Canada. Bien que les applications soient ouvertes à tous, nous donnerons priorité aux diplômés de disciplines autres que l’Histoire et la Philosophie des Sciences et que le Science, Technologie et Société, et qui proviennent d’institutions où il n’existe pas ou peu de programme pour  ces mêmes disciplines ; de sorte que les cours d’été offrent une expérience éducationnelle riche pour les novices en la matière.

Emplacement et Hébergement:
Le séminaire se tiendra au lac Elbow Lake Conservancy of Canada Reserve (http://www.queensu.ca/qubs/about/facilities/elbow-2.html), un site de retraite rustique proche de Kingston, Ontario affilié à la Station Biologique de l’Université Queen’s. Les étudiants seront logés dans des cabines partagées et ils devront aider à la préparation de quelques repas. Le site n’est pas accessible aux chaises roulantes. Nous nous chargerons du transport vers et depuis Kingston, Ontario.

Frais :
Les frais d’hébergement et de repas pendant le séjour seront pris en charge par Situer la Science, ainsi que la plupart, si ce n’est tout les frais de voyage en classe économique. Nous fournirons de plus amples renseignements avec la lettre d’acceptation.

Dates :
Date limite pour soumettre les applications : lundi 14 Avril 2014
Notification d’acceptation : semaine du 21 avril 2014
Date limite d’inscription : lundi 5 mai 2014

Procédure :
Les appliquants doivent inclure les documents suivants, de préférence sous le format PDF :
1. Description des intérêts de leurs recherches et pertinence pour eux du séminaire (max. 300 mots)
2. Bref Curriculum Vitae / lettre de présentation faisant état des atouts, expériences et formations pertinentes
3. Une lettre de recommandation signée par un superviseur, un directeur d’études supérieures, ou un autre membre de faculté familier avec les intérêts de recherche de l’appliquant

Les applications doivent être envoyées à :
Sergio Sismondo: sismondo@queensu.ca
Avec une copie à :
Emily Tector: situsci@dal.ca

Good luck!

Cindy Patton talks about evidence and the invention of a Crystal Meth-HIV connection via press release

Canada’s Situating Science research cluster is launching a national lecture series (from a Jan. 30, 2014 announcement)

The Lives of Evidence
A multi-part national lecture series examining the cultural, ethical, political, and scientific role of evidence in our world.

They are kicking the series off with what appears to be a two city tour of Vancouver and Saskatoon (from the announcement),

The Press and the Press Release: Inventing the Crystal Meth-HIV Connection
Cindy Patton, Canada Research Chair in Community, Culture, and Health
Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University

What does the rise and fall of a scientific fact look like? In her analysis of the Crystal Meth-AIDS superbug connection in US media coverage, Dr. Patton explores scientific evidence as it circulates through the lab, the media, and society. Scientific studies, expertise, and anecdotal human-interest stories are used to “prove” a causal relationship between the (probably temporary) rise in crystal use and a (less than clear) rise in HIV rates. But far from helping to avoid hasty and ill-conceived policy in a moment of panic, the media coverage justifies something more problematic: discrimination and medical policing that appear to rest on scientific proof.

Monday February 3, 2014, 4 PM
Buchanan A-201, University of British Columbia, 1866 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC

Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 4 PM CST / 5 PM ET
Room 18, Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, 25 Campus Drive, Sakatoon, Saksatchewan
Watch the U. Sask reprise live online here:
www.livestream.com/situsci

Maybe I’ll see you at the Vancouver event.

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

UNCERTAIN SCIENCE, UNCERTAIN TIMES
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
Free
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:
www.ScienceAndSociety2013.ca    

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

Panelists:
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
102
Chair: Dr. Gordon McOuat, Situating Science
Speaker: Dr. Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard Kennedy School
Session 1a: Science and Democracy [emphasis mine]
Desmarais Building Rm. 12
102
Chair/Speaker: Dr. Heather Douglas, Waterloo
Speakers:
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.