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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S News

President’s message, December 2015


This President’s message marks the last of 2015, but also the first in a new chapter of 4S governance. As the roughly 1200 of you who attended 4S 2015 in Denver last month will know, I was handed several exemplars of the artifact named in English a ‘baton’ during the Awards plenary. As our outgoing (in both senses) President Gary Downey explained, these objects all have their part in the agencies of the 4S President. I’ll likely keep the parade leader’s twirling baton in reserve, but can easily relate to the value of the orchestra conductor’s baton in keeping things in harmony (but without being afraid of some dissonance as well as loud and uplifting noises), and the relay racer’s in keeping things moving (in the agreed upon directions).

I’ll have news for you in upcoming issues of Technoscience on developments coming out of the last round of Council and Committee meetings, but the remainder of this space needs to be dedicated to thank yous. The first and most heartfelt goes to Gary Downey, who has served as 4S President since 2014. I think it must be clear to everyone that Gary has taken up this role with extraordinary care for the well being of the Society, and his stewardship is evident in a clear and effective governance structure. He has also introduced a vibrant set of new initiatives, the closest to his heart being (what I hope will become the tradition of) a Making and Doing session at the 4S annual meeting (links to all of the projects exhibited in Denver can be found at Meant to encourage 4S members ‘to share scholarly practices of participation, engagement, and intervention in their fields of study,’ Making and Doing drew enormous response and resulted in what was without question a highlight of the Denver meetings. Among many other things, it was a testament to the ingenuity of 4S scholars presented with the possibility of enacting their practice through the affordances provided by nothing more than a 2 meter long table. The tables became much more (as you’ll see in subsequent documentation of the event). In this context huge thanks go as well to Sulfikar Amir, who Chaired the Making and Doing Committee, as well as to all of its members, and of course to the brilliant participants.

Gary’s legacy includes as well two new 4S Awards, the Mentoring Award (presented for the first time in Denver to Professor Maureen McNeil) and a newly approved Infrastructure Award (to be presented for the first time in Barcelona). Both of these awards represent Gary’s commitment to recognizing the full range of practices that are essential to building and sustaining the field of STS. The awards were developed and approved by all of those who served on 4S Council and relevant committees. (You are too many to name here, but for a full list see I’ll close by thanking again the three Council members whose terms have ended in 2015, Wen-Hua Kuo, Vivian Lagesen, and Kelly Moore; welcoming our three new Council members Oscar Javier Maldonado Castañeda, Gwen Ottinger, and Sara Wylie; and thanking all of the 4S Officers, Council and Committee members with whom I look forward so much to working. Last but not least I would like to thank Council member Daniel Breslau for his outstanding contribution as Program Chair of 4S 2015, Denver, and to all of you who made this such a fabulous meeting. 

Lucy Suchman, President