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Proposal for a 4S Mentoring Award


4S Mentoring Award Report Committee Members:

Kim Fortun, Leandro Rodriguez Medina, Kaushik Sunder Rajan*, 

Sharon Traweek*, and Sally Wyatt

* co-chairs

8 July 2014                

Proposal for a 4S Mentoring Award: Transferring Knowledge Across Generations and Domains of Practice

During the last 40 years STS has become an established field of inquiry globally. Thousands of people have collaboratively built that infrastructure of scholarly organizations, conferences, workshops, newsletters, journals, book series, positions, degrees, research funding programs, departments, centers, and institutes.  We have crafted the theoretical, methodological, and institutional tools to conduct effective fundamental, applied, developmental, clinical, and policy research in STS. We have extended our knowledge and practices beyond academia to governments, industries, civil society, and social movements around the world. We also have developed the knowledge of how to build, circulate, and maintain our own knowledge-making apparatus while insuring its flexibility. To do all this we have established and maintained trans-local and trans-disciplinary webs of collaborative working relationships that we keep under revision.

In sum we not only have launched the study of infrastructures for the production and crafting of knowledge and knowledge makers; we also have been performing such work reflexively for our own field, employing many key STS concepts strategically. We have transformed the study of how knowledge is made and we also have transformed existing infrastructures to establish our own lines of inquiry. We have been engaged in both institution building and transformation in order to establish lasting and flexible infrastructures for our own field. We also are transforming STS practices through our work in academia, governments, industries, civil societies, and social movements.

Mentoring in most fields conventionally means transmitting across generations and domains of expertise both bodies of knowledge and ways of making such knowledge. In STS we do all that and we also mentor how to transform reflexively both our knowledge making practices and the infrastructures in which we ourselves are embedded. It is important that we define and acknowledge our extensive, complex, and reflexive mentoring practices used in building our own infrastructures. In order to improve that distinctive mentoring it also is crucial that we honor our best practices with a 4S Mentoring Award.

Many of us have experienced pedagogies that monitored canons and required the disciplined performance of doctrinal catechisms, designed to maintain certain structures of authority. Those are not the pedagogies we recommend 4S reward. Specifically, we recommend the recognition of the kinds of mentoring practices listed below.

Proactive pedagogies

Clarifying academic career trajectories and their transformations

Proactive practices at the intersections of individuals, families, communities, work places, organizations, and societies locally, trans-locally, and globally

Recommended Practices for Implementing the 4S Mentoring Award

Each year the 4S Council should form a 4S Mentoring Award Committee similar to its other award committees. An annual announcement about the 4S Mentoring Award should be posted at the 4S website, in the Technoscience Newsletter, and via email to 4S members. The announcement should include a procedure for nominations and a deadline for submitting those nominations. Nomination could be made through a letter or set of letters providing substantive descripton of how the nominee has excelled as a mentor, exemplifying the complex character of mentoring recognized as important in 4S. After the committee makes its decision, it should inform the 4S President and Council.  The President should inform the awardee and make arrangements for the award to be presented at the next 4S conference. The award itself should be similar to other 4S awards.