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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S Mentoring Award

Now accepting nominations for 2017. Dealine 31 January. See below.

Mentoring Award 2016: Arie Rip

We are delighted to announce the award of the 2016 Mentoring Award to Professor Arie Rip, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Twente, the Netherlands.

The nomination dossiers we received documented a wide array of important mentoring practices that described the ways in which these scholars have:

  • crafted the education of novices to facilitate their metamorphosis into fully independent researchers;
  • introduced students and scholars to STS at many different career stages, from undergrads though mid-career scholars;
  • introduced their own advisees to broader scholarly networks, without concern for credit or publicity;
  • guided young people through the complex infrastructures for crafting knowledge;
  • built strategic new infrastructures to enable the development of the next generation in new directions;
  • exercised leadership in ethical and effective ways;
  • brought newcomers into networks that extend beyond departments, disciplines, nations; and
  • exemplified human decency and warmth in scholarly communities.

Professor Rip has been a formative figure in STS for over four decades. He has helped shape the field, both through his own scholarship and through the mentoring of generations of STS scholars. He has supervised over fifty PhD students in his career, in addition to numerous masters’ degree students. He has coached and supported many others at various times in their career, even while not credited with a formal advisory role. His mentoring has been a model of attentive listening and constructive criticism, and has continued for a decade beyond his formal retirement from teaching.  

His mentoring has extended beyond supporting individual students and early career scholars, into important institutional directions. He was a key figure in the Science, Technology and Society movements of the 1970s that led to the teaching and training of STS-related issues in science and engineering departments in northwest Europe and the United States. He created innovative courses for science and engineering students at the University of Twente; directed the Societal Aspects of Nanotechnology sub-program of the Dutch National R & D consortium NanoNed; and chaired the Expert Advisory Group on Science with and for Society/Responsible Research and Innovation in the European Union’s framework programme Horizon 2020. He was also one of the founders of the Netherlands Graduate Research School for Science, Technology and Modern Culture, which has been providing PhD training for almost 30 years. In nominating him for this award, his mentees have mentioned the important role he has played in helping them transition from other fields such an engineering and policy studies into STS; his role as a “liberal and empowering Doktorvater”; and his engagement with their work that far outlives the completion of theses.

In short, Arie Rip has helped establish a new field, developed institutional and pedagogical infrastructures for STS in its relationship to both engineering and policy, and has trained generations of scholars. We feel privileged to award him the 2016 4s mentoring award.

Mentoring Award Committee Members: Kaushik Sunder Rajan, University of Chicago, USA (co-chair); Sharon Traweek, UCLA, USA (co-chair); Sulfikar Amir, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (Council member); Kim Fortun, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA; Leandro Rodriguez Medina, Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Mexico; Sally Wyatt, Royal Netherlands Academy, Netherlands. 


Arie Rip is emeritus Professor, Philosophy of Science and Technology, at the University of Twente, associated with the Department of Science, Technology and Policy Studies. He studied physical chemistry at the University of Leiden (and did a first degree in philosophy there), then moved into Chemistry and Society teaching and research at the University of Leiden, and science, technology and society teaching and research more generally. He contributed to the setting-up of science dynamics as a particular direction in STS. After being guest professor at the Department of Science Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam (1984-1987), he moved to occupy the Chair in Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Twente. He has a record of work in supervising more than fifty PhD students; and in ongoing research in science, technology and innovation dynamics, in particular long-term development of institutions of science, and constructive technology assessment of emerging technologies like nanotechnology; and in consultancy and advice, recently also about responsible research and innovation.


I am very happy to accept the 4S Mentoring Award, because I always found that this part of my "job" (I use quotes because it feels more like part of my identity) was very stimulating and rewarding, and I have put quite some effort into it over the years. Still do, actually.

When I moved into STS (after getting my degree in physical chemistry, and a first degree in philosophy) it was because I was invited to be responsible for a new teaching programme in Chemistry and Society at the University of Leiden (this was in 1969, the time of the critical student movement). Together with the senior students who chose Chemistry and Society as an elective I worked on developing the programme while doing it. It was a non-disciplinary effort, like STS at the time. But I always insisted on intellectual quality.

Over the years, I have been blessed by having many bright and interesting master and PhD students. I would still find occasions to comment on what they did, in the details and overall, but in a spirit of constructive criticism, helping them to improve the project they wanted to accomplish. I have also done this for students and junior researchers who were not formally my responsibility: couldn’t resist when I saw there was a need (and receptivity) and I had the capacity to help them.

As Maureen McNeil, in her acceptance note when receiving the first 4S Mentoring Award, emphasized, this award is a relational prize: it builds on the interactions with young (and sometimes older) early researchers in STS. I am grateful to all of them for allowing me the pleasure to include mentoring activities in our mix of interactions. Which interactions often continue, and I am grateful for that as well. And let me add my particular thanks to the two “mentees” (awful word!) who were responsible for my nomination for the Mentoring Award.

About the 4S Mentoring Award

The 4S Mentoring Award is granted annually.  Both mid-career and more senior scholars are eligible. The award includes a cash prize to help defray the costs of attending the annual meeting to receive it.

Please send nominations by email to 4S Secretary Steve Zehr by 31 January.

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 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.

A list of possible categories of distinguished contributions to mentoring follows below.  Although detailed, it is both non-exclusive and far from exhaustive.

Proactive pedagogies that encourage students and colleagues to explicitly explore and value . . .

  • supportive academic environments, including:
    • innovative teaching and mentoring
    • ethical practices in teaching, research, and governance
    • supportive and respectful communication
  • scholarly innovation, including:
    • theoretical and methodological innovations
    • interdisciplinary inquiries
    • independent inquiry, research, writing, teaching, and advocacy goals, such as taking independent decisions, risks, and positions in STS debates
    • basic, applied, developmental, clinical, and policy research
    • work in public arenas

Proactive professionalization practices among students and colleagues that effectively . . .

  • model critical evaluation of:
    • academic career trajectories and their transformations within and beyond academia
    • current job and funding opportunities and transformations
    • tacit and explicit practices at universities, academic funding agencies, publishers, professional communities, societies, and their transformations
    • ethical practices in all aspects of STS work
  • model
    • interdisciplinary and glocal engagements with colleagues, including those conducting fundamental, applied, developmental, clinical, and policy research
    • a broad and international understanding of STS and its transformations
    • effective leadership and how to respond strategically to non-collegial behavior
    • constructive engagement with differences among students, staff, colleagues, and our research subjects.

Proactive practices at the intersections of individuals, families, communities, work places, organizations, and other groupings locally, trans-locally, and globally that effectively . . .

  • assist with
    • constructive life/work balance decisions, including building and balancing professional, personal, family, community, and societal commitments
    • decision-making practices during professional, personal, family, community, and societal crises
    • locating strategic, significant intersections across academia and other areas of life
    • building collegial relationships among students and colleagues locally, trans-locally, and globally
  • address
    • uneven privilege within academia and beyond, e.g., due to differences among genders, ethnicities, classes, races, and/or national origins, etc. among students, staff, colleagues, and research subjects.
  • model
    • work at interfaces between STS and non-STS arenas
    • how to actively share STS expertise beyond academia
    • engagement with institutional, professional, and societal transformations
    • safe spaces and practices for open discussions within and beyond the academy
    • access to resources for open discussions and transformative practices
    • discourses about and conduct of ethical practices in STS professional and public engagements

Past Winners

2015. Maureen McNeil