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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S News

President’s Message #4


Alert!: 4S digital publications! Please answer 15 questions today

4S is expanding its presence in digital publications, with Council approval and leadership by a Digital Publications Subcommittee.  Among the options considered are an open access journal, blogs, podcasts, videotaped lectures, reports and position statements, teaching resources, and links to projects of making and doing.

Please answer 15 questions about the kinds of resources you might find valuable for your work as an STS scholar and for building STS as a scholarly field. 

Digital Publications Subcommittee:  Wen-Hua Kwo (chair, National Yang-Ming U, Taiwan), Ali Kenner (Drexel U, USA), Abby Kinchy (Rensselaer, USA), Laurel Smith-Doerr (U Massachusetts, USA), Katie Vann (ST&HV), Kelly Moore (ex officio, Chair, 4S Publications Committee), Gary Downey (ex officio, President).

Announcing 4S Reports and Position Statements Committee

In a world of media outlets looking for quality content, official 4S reports and position statements could become one category of pathways for STS scholars to achieve effective critical participation (cf. December 2013 President's message) beyond the boundaries of the field.

To entice members to draft and submit potential STS reports and position statements, 4S now has a Committee on Reports and Position Statements, formerly the Committee on Public Engagement. 

Committee members are at work developing guidelines for groups of 4S members to produce draft STS reports and position statements, and for Council to vet them fully with the membership.  Note: such reports and position statements need not pertain only to controversies!

We hope to have guidelines formally approved by August.

4S Reports and Position Statements Committee:  Vivian Lagesen (chair, NTNU, Norway), Wen-Hua Kuo (National Yang-Ming U, Taiwan), Wes Shrum (Louisiana State U, USA), Steve Zehr (ex officio, 4S Secretary), Gary Downey (ex officio, 4S President).

Announcing a student member on the Nicholas C. Mullins Award Committee

For the first time, the Nicholas C. Mullins Award Committee includes a student member. The Mullins Award recognizes "an outstanding piece of scholarship by a graduate student in the general field of Science and Technology Studies."

After consulting with Council, I decided to add a student member to the committee for the following reasons:

  • Many advanced graduate students are well-prepared to judge the quality of research by other students.  

  • Any conflict of interest a student might have on the Mullins Award Committee is not qualitatively distinct from the conflicts of interest that faculty who publish articles and books have on those prize committees.  Note: concerns about conflicts of interest are what prevented the appointment of students when the Award was established.

  • The student will be working with three senior colleagues, all Council members.  I trust that the senior colleagues will be able to recognize and temper any instances of poor judgment by a student.  I have watched students serve with distinction on faculty search committees and policy committees.  I would not be surprised, in fact, students proved to be the most diligent committee members.  

  • As President-Elect, I worked with representatives from the 4S Student Section (6S) last year to re-energize the organization by improving succession planning and possibly pilot-testing video-conferencing.  Adding a student to an important prize committee indicates the Society’s commitment to the professional development of future full members.

  • The 4S may soon be recruiting as many as a dozen students to work with the managing editor of digital publications.  Inviting 2nd year representatives from 6S to sit at Council and inviting one student to serve on the Mullins Award Committee helps demonstrate that Council desires to integrate students into Society activities in multiple ways.

Nicholas C. Mullins Award Committee: Sulfikar Amir (chair, Nanyang Technological U, Singapore), Abby Kinchy (Rensselaer, USA), Samuel Tettner (6S rep, Mahindra United World College, India), Claire Waterton (Lancaster U, UK)

Deadline!: nominate candidates for Council and President

As I described last month, Council now selects nominees for new Council members and the new President. Claire Waterton (Lancaster U, UK) is managing the process for identifying candidates for Council. I am managing the process for identifying candidates for President. We will complete the work soon.

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

2nd chance!: nominate speakers for the Joint Presidential Plenary

"What Is STS For? What Are STS scholars For?: Mapping STS Today" is the title of the opening Joint Presidential Plenary in Buenos Aires.  

24 STS scholars (12 each from 4S and ESOCITE) will have 3 minutes each to respond to these prompts by describing what they do, how and why they do it, and what they seek to accomplish in the process. Speakers will present in one of the three official languages, accompanied by slides translating their presentations into the other two languages.

Here's your second chance to suggest to me one or more potential 4S presenters (other than yourself) who can share a line of STS scholarship that you find valuable, and do so powerfully, passionately, and persuasively.  Although not essential, I welcome your identifying yourself so I know from where the suggestion comes. I am seeking counsel from many directions.


Go to Paris April 17-20 for Ethnografilm, sponsored by 4S!

Come to Buenos Aires August 20-23 for the joint ESOCITE/4S annual meeting!  (And bring your books to display and donate to the silent auction--to support student travel).

Gary Downey