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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S News

4S President’s Message – January 2018


4S Community,

Happy new year!  We have important work to do in 2018.  Thanks to all of you who have been in touch to share ideas and plans.  I appreciate the feedback.  

At the 4S Council (quarterly) meeting in early January, we outlined a series of reports that will be shared with 4S members at the end of the summer then discussed both online and in Sydney.  

Council member Sara Wylie will chair 4S’s standing committee on “Resolutions and Public Engagement,” producing a report that suggests ways 4S can extend its broad social impact.  Wyle plans to report on approaches taken by other scholarly societies and on possibilities for partnering with organizations like National Academies.  Wylie has particular interest in ways  4S and STS scholars can help shape deliberations about the production, curation and use of evidence  in public decision-making.  (Sara has played a leading role in the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, EDGI; see EDGI’s latest report.)  

Council member Gwen Ottinger will continue to chair 4S’s Publishing Committee and will report on a series of discussions about future pathways for 4S’s publishing program, considering possibilities for extending open access.  4S is a recognized observer of Libraria, an open access publishing cooperative that has played a leading role envisioning what scholarly communications can look like in the future, helping publishing organizations work through questions about the purpose and process of opening access, economic viability and sustainability, and so on.  

Steve Jackson will chair the 4S Web Committee, overseeing routine web activity (including Backchannels) as well as planning for the future -- recognizing the increasing role of social media in 4S’s communication strategy, the need to reach and link STSers across regions and generations, and other challenges that will significantly shape 4S going forward.  Many many thanks to Daniel Breslau and his 4S social media group (including Aftab Mirzaei. Courtney Addison, and Carla Alvial Palavincino).  Over the last few years, the group brought 4s twitter from 600 to 2511 followers, and facebook from 700 to 2311.  A new social media team took over on January 15, led by 6S rep Margarita Rayzberg, working with me, Aadita Chaudhury (also a 6S rep) and  Aftab Mirzaei.  

Anita Say Chan will chair a newly  formed ad hoc committee that will examine how 4S can account for and support diversity in its membership, recognizing that established category schemes for such accounting are problematic and very context-specific, posing special challenges for an organization with transnational reach.  

All these committees (and others) are working to understand where 4S is at present, and where 4S can go as STS continues to grow as a field, with an increasing number of journals, degree-granting programs, regional organizations, and people interested in being part of the STS and 4S community.  Please let me or Council members know your ideas!

4sSydney will provide an important opportunity for sharing ideas about 4S and STS, past and future.  Don’t miss the February 1 deadline for submitting abstracts.  

The Sydney program continues to grow in exciting ways.  There will be a pre-conference workshop on 4S and/in Africa, for example, a plenary that explores Indigenous STS (and how scientific research and STS alike could be “indigenised”), and STS Across Borders exhibits that profile different STS departments, journals, and regional initiatives.  We’ve also confirmed that the opencing reception will feature STS scholar and DJ Alexandra Lippman.  Lippman  recently produced and curated  ¡Un Saludo! Mexican Soundsystem Cumbia in LA, a compilation of border-crossing music.  She DJs as Xandão and belongs to the collective, Dutty Artz.  See her work written about in the  The New York Times, L.A. Weeklyand The FADER.  Sydney will be a fun conference that takes 4S in new directions!

Looking forward to our work together this year.   

Kim Fortun, 4S President