The Science Studies Network (SSNet) at the University of Washington
The Science Studies Network was established in Fall 2007 as an inclusive, university-wide network of faculty and graduate students who share an interest in science studies. The University of Washington has great strength in the sciences and rich, widely dispersed resources in sciences and technology studies, so our goal has been to create a forum in which practitioners in the sciences and science studies scholars can explore common interests in a sustained way. We are also committed to developing an interdisciplinary curriculum in science studies that integrates existing course offerings and programs, and to fostering regional links between STS scholars and programs in the Pacific Northwest.
In its first two years SSNet sponsored bi-weekly lunchtime colloquia focused on the theme "Democratizing Science" in 2008-2009; and in 2009-2010 we ran a speaker series on "Representations.” We build on a long running tradition of reading and discussion groups in History and Philosophy of Science, and on a high profile Science Studies Speaker Series that ran for two years in 2003-2005. For current events see the home page, and for details of past SSNet programs, follow the Archive, Podcast, and Blog links in the sidebar. Here is a brief overview of what you'll find in the archives.
Representations: A Science Studies Network Speaker Series
SSNet sponsored a speaker series on the theme, “Representations,” designed to explore both the practices of representing Nature in the sciences and the ways in which science serves to represent diverse communities and cultural perspectives in the study of the natural world. Each visitor presented a public lecture and joined an SSNet lunchtime colloquium for discussion of their recent work.
- Helen Longino (Department of Philosophy, Stanford University): “Navigating the Social Turn”21 October 2009
- Paul Rabinow (Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley): “Synthetic Biology, Political Spirituality: Reflections on Some Actual Things”>19 April 2010
- Michael Lynch (Science and Technology Studies Dept., Cornell University) : Instrument-laden Perception and the Production of Nano-images”10 May 2010
A substantial community of interest coalesced, in the first year of SSNet meetings, around a range of topics captured by the theme “Democratizing Science.” To build on the synergy of these discussions, the 2008-2009 SSNet Colloquium was organized as a year-long faculty and graduate student seminar on this focal theme, complemented by a visiting speaker series.
Graduate-Faculty Colloquium on Democratizing Science
The SSNet bi-weekly colloquium on “Democratizing Science” was organized in three thematic components and organized, each quarter, by a core of 5-7 Faculty and Graduate SSNet Fellows. The Fellows specified topics and readings for discussion and convened a graduate “microseminar” (HUM596) that ran in conjunction with the graduate-faculty colloquium. The focal themes for each quarter were:
Science in Democracy (Fall 2008)
Democracy and Diversity in Science (Winter 2009)
Normative Claims for a Democratic Science (Spring 2009).
- For a description of the rationale for the 2008-2009 colloquium “Democratizing Science” see the SSNet 2008-2009 Proposal.
- For a description of each quarter’s colloquium topic and of the Faculty and Graduate Fellows who convened these colloquia, see Archive 2008-2009: SSNet Colloquium.
- For a PDF summary of the readings assigned for colloquium and seminar meetings throughout the year, see the HUM596 syllabus.
- Details on the HUM596 graduate seminars run in conjunction with the graduate-faculty colloquia are available at Archive 2008-2009: Microseminars.
- For notes and podcasts related to individual colloquia see the SSNet Blog and Podcasts.
SSNet Visiting Speakers
The SSNet also hosted three visiting speakers in 2008-2009, chosen for their research interests in areas that complemented the thematic focus of each quarter’s colloquium. (Download speaker abstracts/bios here.)
- Eugene Thacker (Literature, Communication, and Culture, Georgia Institute of Technology): After Life | November 24, 2008
- Kelly Moore (Sociology, University of Cincinnati): Disrupting Science: Social Movements, American Scientists, and the Politics of the Military, 1945-1975 | February 9-10, 2009
- Kavita Philip (Women’s Studies, UC-Irvine): Technological Subjects | May 12-13, 2009
The 2007-2008 colloquium was designed to showcase, in the Fall quarter, the work of UW colleagues who represent represent three broad constituencies of interest in science studies: history and philosophy of science; cultural studies of science; and ethics, equity, and policy issues in science. In the Spring and Winter quarters SSNet colloquia were organized on a number of topics suggested by Fall participants:
- "Scientists' Perspectives on Science and Technology Studies"
- "Digital Media, Technology, and Science"
- "Science and Art"
- "Collaborative Practice/Interdisciplinary Practice"
- "Multi-disciplinary Perspectives on Scientists of Color"
- "How do we Study Science?"
The SSNet also hosted workshop meetings with a number of visiting speakers in 2007-2008: Steve Epstein, UC-SD (Critical Medical Humanities, November 2007); Miriam Solomon, Temple University (Philosophy Department, November 2007); Nancy Cartwright, LSE/UC-SD (Walker-Ames visiting scholar, March 2008), Richard Lewontin from Harvard (Danz lecturer, April 2008); and Paul Wouters, Visual Knowledge Studio, Amsterdam (June 2008).
Finally, SSNet was a partner in organizing two conferences sponsored by the Simpson Center in 2007-2008:
- 10th Anniversary Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable (March 2008)
- Expanding Interdisciplinarity: From Campus to Community(June 2008)
- For a full list of Colloquium and Workshop topics see the SSNet calendar for 2007-2008.
- For notes and podcasts related to individual colloquia see the [ARCHIVE 2007-2008]
- For the 2007-2008 SSNet proposal see the Executive Summary or Full Proposal
Science Studies is an interdisciplinary field of research that takes the sciences in all their complexity — their practice, their history and socio-cultural formation, their philosophical underpinnings, their impact on our lives — as a subject for systematic investigation. The point of departure is, for many, an appreciation that science is a jointly intellectual, material, and social enterprise; it brings diverse resources to bear on the project of constructing stable, reliable systems of knowledge about the natural and social world. It is the goal of Science Studies to understand how such knowledge is produced and authorized, what distinguishes it as scientific knowledge, how it evolves and is inflected by the contexts of its production, and what its normative implications are: what ethical obligations and other forms of accountability constitute “research integrity” in particular contexts of practice.