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STGlobal Consortium: By students, for students

Mel Jeske and Derek Parrott

23 May, 2016

On April 8th and 9th, 2016, the STGlobal Consortium held its 16th annual graduate student conference in Washington, DC. STGlobal began as a space for Virginia Tech students interested in S&T policy to workshop their research and has since grown into a two day event. It was hosted by the Consortium’s mission partners, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and in 2016, STGlobal welcomed over 100 attendees and almost 50 presenters from a variety of US states and other countries. Panels were organized around themes such as the politics of big science, values in technological design, participatory knowledge production, human-environment relationships and governance, among others.

This year’s keynote speakers were two scholars who demonstrate commitment to social justice in their academic scholarship. Abby Kinchy joined us from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Friday, April 8 to discuss the role of social movement-based citizen science in controversies around genetically engineered crops and shale gas extraction, particularly in the context of increasingly neoliberal and scientized environmental policy. Shobita Parthasarathy joined us on Saturday, April 9 from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to discuss her work on life form patents and innovation governance in the US and EU. She spoke specifically on how controversies over life form patents have taken on vastly different characters in these different contexts as patent systems reflect local history and culture. Both Abby and Shobita also served as discussants on student panels, giving students an opportunity to speak informally with these prominent scholars.

STGlobal serves as a venue for students to share their research and get feedback from outside their institutions. The annual conference also helps graduate students grow and learn new skills in another way: the conference is organized and run exclusively by graduate students, with guidance from a Faculty Advisory Committee.  The responsibility and flexibility that come with truly steering a conference like this gives members of the Organizing Committee exceptional experience that will serve us whether we go into academia, industry, or another path. This year the conference co-chairs were Melanie Jeske (PhD student in Sociology at University of California, San Francisco, and graduate of Drexel University’s MS in STS program) and Derek Parrott (MS student at Drexel University, beginning his PhD in STS at Cornell University in Fall 2016). 

While the conference has attracted presenters from outside of the US for several years, the Consortium has been primarily based in the greater Washington, DC area. Now, the STGlobal Consortium is expanding to include more US schools with graduate programs in STS and STP.  In response to continued interest in the relatively new undergraduate poster session (which began in 2015), we are launching a new level of STGlobal membership to engage schools with STS- or STP-related undergraduate programs. By welcoming these students to our community, we hope to help STS-minded undergraduates imagine and explore options after graduation.

If your institution might be interested in exploring membership options, please contact us at

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Reports and commentary from meetings, workshops, and seminars of interest to the STS community, with images and other media.