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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S News

President’s message #15


Bernal Lecture! . . . and early announcement of prize winners!

I’m delighted to announce that the 4S is inaugurating an annual Bernal Lecture at the Denver meeting! The lecture will take place during the prize plenary on Friday.

I’d like to thank Lucy Suchman for first suggesting a Bernal lecture in conversation. I was tossing the idea around when the 2015 Bernal winner volunteered to deliver a lecture. It was an offer the 4S could not and should not refuse. I accepted it. Over the years, I have heard many members express interest in hearing more from a Bernal winner than an acceptance speech.

Coupled with this change, I will be announcing all award winners prior to the September 1 registration deadline for the meeting.

Announcing winners prior to the registration deadline allows us to (1) increase the visibility of winners, (2) celebrate our best scholarship year-round, (3) publish the texts of presentations (and perhaps written acceptances) in the meeting program, (4) compress the actual prize presentations to an hour (even with new awards, fingers crossed), (5) promote author-meets-critics sessions more explicitly, (6) perhaps attract more registrations with a Bernal lecture, (7) significantly reduce the agonizing time period during which winners have to remain silent, and (8) keep the Friday schedule roughly the same—prize plenary, business meeting, banquet.

Nominees for 2015 4S Mentoring Award?: deadline April 1

The 4S Mentoring Award committee has established April 1 as the deadline for our inaugural award, to be presented at the Denver meeting. Complete guidelines at the 4S website. Key features:

“The nomination packet must not exceed five pages in length (12pt font). It must include (1) a statement or letter of nomination, detailing the candidate’s distinguished contributions as a mentor, and (2) supporting documentation. Supporting documentation provides evidence of the candidate's or group of candidates’ distinguished contributions to mentoring in Science and Technology Studies. Supporting documentation may include up to three letters of support from mentees, knowledgeable colleagues, supervisors, etc. Other forms of documentation are also acceptable, as appropriate.

The 4S Mentoring Award implements an expansive conception of mentoring, recognizing the wide range of ways that effective mentors share scholarly insights, practices, and support across generations and domains of practice. It recognizes mentoring through pedagogy, assistance in professional development, support of work-life relationships, and other appropriate practices.

The Award Committee considers two criteria in assessing candidates: (1) scholarly excellence in mentoring, and (2) scope of mentoring accomplishments. Some possible dimensions of scope are (a) temporal, i.e., spanning a long period of time; (b) spatial, i.e., spanning significant geographical distances; (c) organizational, i.e., spanning different institutions, types of institutions, or levels of scholarly service within an organization; and (d) representational, i.e., expanding the diversity of STS scholars and scholarship. Other dimensions of scope may be appropriate.”

Send nominations to Sharon Traweek (co-chair).

Other members of the 2015 committee include Kim Fortun, Leandro Rodriguez-Medina, Kaushik Sunder Rajan (co-chair), and Sally Wyatt.

Nominees for Council?: deadline March 1

Council as a whole selects nominees for new members. Claire Waterton chairs the committee.

Please suggest here potential candidates, including yourself. To aid Council in its deliberations, include a brief description of each candidate's qualifications.

Term and responsibilities: “Council members serve a three-year term beginning immediately after the annual 4S meeting. Three members are elected annually from a slate of 5-7 candidates. Council members are expected to be available for two meetings annually – one at the annual meeting and the other during a two-day spring meeting. Council members also initiate and participate in regular 4S business throughout the year. Regular business includes considering and formulating policy, providing feedback to the President on matters of concern, discussing and formulating new initiatives, and other business as necessary. Council members also serve on one prize committee each year and additional committees as requested by the President. The workload is not onerous, but does require a 3-year commitment.”

Nominees for 6S representative?: tentative deadline April 1

The Ad Hoc 6S Charter Committee is proposing changes to the charter for the 4S Student Section, or 6S. A key change is formalizing an annual election by student members in parallel with the Council election. Our new member management system (forthcoming) provides the requisite functionality.

The Committee requests your comments on the proposed revision prior to Council deliberation and approval. Please view the full text of the draft revision and then register your comments.

The Committee consists of Jason Delbourne (NCSU), Matthew Harsh (Concordia U), Shobita Parthasarathy (chair; U Michigan), Bryn Whiteley (Virginia Tech).

Participate in the STS Making and Doing session!

The STS Making and Doing Committee will soon issue its call for submissions for the Denver meeting. Please consider participating in the inaugural event! You can still present in a paper session. The hotel has a great space for up to 50 presenters. Details to follow, including technical support.

The Making and Doing call for submission will also be included in the general meeting call. See the 4S website for details about the associated awards. Key features:

“STS projects to be considered include but are not limited to the following categories:

Policy: STS projects that resulted in policy papers, recommendations, regulations, devices, decision-making practices, or other policy outcomes. Policy arenas include medicine and health, development, infrastructures, and communication in addition to those explicitly oriented to science and technology. 

Design and Planning: STS projects that resulted in the design and creation of effective products, graphics, spaces, and landscapes. The outcomes can be large or small in scale, and can be digital in content. Projects can be organized around different design themes, .e.g. participatory design, sustainable design, etc. The presentation should show explanation of design process and how various actors are involved in the process.

Arts: STS projects that resulted in effective artistic creations, including those in audio-visual format or in public installations, exhibits, and performances. The presentation should be accompanied by a narrative that links the project to STS scholarship.

Pedagogy: STS projects that resulted in effective practices for education and training. The project can aim at different levels and forms of education and training, for instance university courses, high school classes, or special training programs. The presentation should indicate how the project increases awareness and understanding of STS scholarship. 

STS infrastructures: STS projects that resulted in effective informational or material infrastructures for the construction, operation, and travel of STS as field or discipline. Such might include the building of degree programs, modes of print and electronic publication, professional organizations, summer schools, institutes, scholarly collectives, and the 4S annual meeting itself. The presentation should move beyond promotion to include reflective analysis.

Open Category: Any project that reflects the objectives of STS Making and Doing, including civic engagement, social activism, public debate and festivals, etc.”

Committee members include Sulfikar Amir (chair), Joseph Dumit, Nina Wakeford, Chia-Ling Wu, Sara Wylie, and Teun Zuiderant-Jerak.

Future meetings—propose to host 2017!

The Future Meetings Committee requests informal expressions of interest in hosting the 2017 meeting. One proposal is already in hand. 

Please submit your expression of interest to Steve Zehr, 4S secretary. Include any logistical details you might be able to supply at this point. 

No word yet about 2016.

Much to come regarding our upcoming meeting in Denver!

Gary Downey