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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S News

4S President’s message – November 2017


It is time to nominate colleagues for 4S’s many prizes!  This is an important opportunity to think through where STS is as a field, and to honor exemplary work.  To make it easier to keep up with the nomination schedule, we are revising it so that nominations for all prizes are due December 15, 2017.  Nominations received earlier for the Edge, Fleck and Carson prizes will be included in updated sets.  Read about the different prizes and submit nominations and supporting material here.

4S prize winners are chosen by committees made up of 4S Council members and select members of the Society.  4S Council members also run a suite of standing committees that take care of the 4S website, publications, elections, travel awards, and other components of 4S’s infrastructure.  Ad hoc committees assume more periodic responsibilities, including research on special topics.  In the coming year, ad hoc committees will consider possibilities for a 4S archive, ways that 4S can deepen its international character (possibly through more formal relationships with other STS societies and with organizations like the International Council for Science, for example), and how 4S can better support and connect STS educators (see the report on a 4S Boston discussion about building STS programs, and the post on Developing STS Minors: The Case of Cal Poly).  The Council and I welcome feedback on these and other possible topics for ad hoc committees.

The work of  4S’s 2018 conference in  Sydney – carried out this year by a program committee, a national organizing committee, and a logistics committee – has also continued steadily.  The program committee has reviewed and accepted  over 100 open panels on an array of topics, and formed subcommittees to steward both Making & Doing exhibits, and a special exhibit – STS Across Borders – that will showcase STS from different regions, diasporas, and genealogies.  A national organizing committee is planning activities that will get conference participants out into the city of Sydney and beyond.  Graduate student representatives on the program committee (Thao Phan and Hined Rafeh) are working to identify affordable lodging for junior scholars. Abstracts for closed panels, individual papers, Making & Doing exhibits, and STS Across Borders exhibits will open December 1, and will close February 1.  Start planning now to come to Sydney!

Jumpstart your thinking about possibilities for Making and Doing with the collection of articles in the recent issue of Engaging Science and Technology focused on “Making and Doing Politics Through Grassroots Scientific Research on the Energy and Petrochemical Industries.”   Also see Gary Downey and Teun Zuiderent-Jerak’s chapter in the recent STS Handbook, “Making and Doing: Engagement and Reflexive Learning in STS” (available for download here). Michaela Spencer will curate the Sydney Making and Doing exhibit (through her role on the conference program committee).  

I write from Hyderabad, where I’m talking with people about an STS Across Borders exhibit focused on STS in India.  I look forward to learning more about how this STS community is narrating its own history, formative conditions, dissensions, and future directions.  I hope many different STS communities will take this kind of initiative, drawing out differences so that we can leverage the impressive pluralism of STS worldwide. See, for example, “Latin American Science, Technology and Society: A Historical and Reflexive Approach,”  “What a new university in South Africa is doing to decolonize social sciences” and IstanbuLab, an STS platform in Turkey.  Also see the 2012 special issue of East Asian Science Technology and Society  (EASTS), “What are East Asian STS Theories: Questions, Qualifications, and Strategies?”, and the more recent EASTS issue and event focused on Provincializing STS: How East Asia Complicates the STS Landscape.  The STS Across Borders exhibit should include exhibits focused on the wealth of journals in the field (see, for example, this review of East Asian history of science journals).  Look out for the call for proposals for STS Across Borders exhibits, and let me know if you would like feedback on possibilities you have in mind.

Finally, grad students and other early career scholars interested in contributing content and/or serving as assistant editors for  Backchannels (the 4S blog) are encouraged to contact Steve Jackson, who chairs the 4S Web Committee.  Help contribute to STS’s growing web and social media presence! For details and tips on writing for Backchannels check out the Backchannels guidelines; for examples of recent posts, check out the Backchannels homepage.

Best wishes,

Kim Fortun