New England Workshop on Science and Social Change

The New England Workshop on Science and Social Change (NewSSC) organizes innovative, interaction-intensive workshops designed to facilitate discussion, teaching innovation, and longer-term collaboration among faculty and graduate students who teach and write about interactions between scientific developments and social change.

Specific objectives of NewSSC

  • 1. Promote Social Contextualization of Science
  • 2. Innovative workshop processes
  • 3. Training and capacity-building
  • 4. Repeatable, evolving workshops See Background and Rationale for each objective, including how it will be achieved and evaluated.

    Spring 2011 Workshop
    "Open Spaces for Changing Science and Society"

    Applications are sought from teachers and researchers (including graduate students) who are interested in moving beyond their current disciplinary and academic boundaries to explore concepts and practices that help us work in the arena bordered on one side by critical interpretation of the directions taken by scientific and technological research and application and on the other side by organizing social movements so as to influence those directions.

    The metaphor of "open spaces" suggests that the issue is not so much to bridge the two sides as it is to acknowledge the value of discussion, reflection, and clarifying one's identity and affinities with both sides kept in view. Whereas the young Karl Marx proclaimed that the "philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it," what happens when we allow for more dialogue and deliberation before-or as a complement to-jumping into campaigns for change? (In this spirit, open spaces has been used to characterize Social Forum meetings at the World, national, or regional levels.) Interpretations from science and technology studies often suggest that things could be (or could have been) otherwise, but when should effecting change be the litmus test of STS critique? What can we learn from examples of explicit and implicit open spaces and what can we share from our own experience? In particular, how can NewSSC articulate and develop its role as a valued open space for participants, some of whom return many times for a recharge and affirmation of aspirations that are not well supported in home institutions and day-to-day interactions?

    Participants are encouraged, but not required, to submit a manuscript or sketch related to the workshop topic that would be read by others before the workshop and be subject to focused discussion during the workshop. There is also room for participants to develop--either before or during the workshop--activities or interactive presentations to engage the other participants. Talk to the organizer to explore the options for bringing your thinking into the workshop interactions. (For a preview of how this plays out, see forthcoming paper on NewSSC dynamics).

    Registration is on a sliding scale--$100 (for those with low incomes and lack of travel support) up to $250 (for those with a decent income and institutional/grant support). Lunches, refreshments, and some dinner costs are covered by the registration.
    The funding available to help get people to the workshop is modest, but we have managed to subsidize travel and accommodation in past years according to need (which favors graduate students and independent scholars, but does not count out those who have regular positions but no travel budgets). Applicants should let us know what you need to be able to attend.

    Location: Woods Hole MA, USA
    Dates May 15 (Sun, 9am)-18 (Weds, 2pm), 2011 (arriving Saturday evening)

    Organizer & Lead Facilitator: Peter J. Taylor, University of Massachusetts Boston, Science in a Changing World graduate track.

    Applications due 15 Jan. 2011. (application details & arrangements)

    Sections to follow (or to be added in due course) and associated links

    (Much of the working, "in progress" material is developed on a wiki and through a private social media site. Only the final products and reports are posted here. Thus some of these links are placeholders for material not yet available.)

    Adjustments relative to previous workshops

    Location shifted to the Old Fire Station (which meant we had to end each day's formal program around 5pm). Instituted "daily writing" at the start of each day, with an eye to possibly collating the resulting text towards some product. Program included more unscheduled time.

    List of participants, short profiles, and webpages

    Atsushi Akera  
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Science and Technology Studies
    Current research is on the history of engineering education reform.  Specifically interested in looking at the history of the interface between engineering and liberal education and how present efforts to "broaden" engineers can be shaped by these past experience and attitudes. 

    Kirk Jalbert  
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Science and Technology Studies
    Interested in developing educational platforms for understanding present day and historically Native, environmental sustainability practices that stem from regions local to their own communities.

    Kurt Jax
    Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Conservation Biology
    Interested in the relation between ecosystem services and ethics, which is a quite contested and socially relevant issue. Seeks to bring experiences form a similar workshop his is organizing in Germany.

    Alison Kenner  
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Science and Technology Studies
    Interested in bridging environmental health research with practice as a yoga teacher. The field of environmental health is an interdisciplinary space, allowing for innovative integration of knowledges and perspectives. Seeks to bring a background of experiential learning, in efforts to cross-fertilize spaces of environmental education and health education.

    Jing Li
    George Mason University, School of Public Policy
    Interested in the dynamics between high-skilled immigrants and regional development.  Specifically, people's decision for their locations, what attract them and what can keep them stay.

    Kennan Kellaris Salinero   
    Yámana Science and Technology
    Interested in protein chemistry, cell biology and microbial genomics in the area of evolutionary inheritance patterns.  Also working as a social entrepreneur, doing development work in the basic science community to connect with other sectors that we can learn from (software development, engineering, organizational development).

    elizaBeth Simpson 
    Creative Intervention Agency (and) School for Designing Society (Urbana, IL)
    Addressing oppressive dynamics in all forms. Pursuing descriptions of self-inclusive systems; by working with the conflicts and group dynamics of communities, organizations, and the brilliant people that populate them. Elicites participation by using critical pedagogy, collective inquiry processes and recurrently reflecting on social systems (personal, communal, societal, institutional). A social/performance artist whose projects often solicit creative work by people who would not call themselves “Artists”.

    Felicia Sullivan
    UMass Boston, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs
    Interested in inquiry-based community engagement, information and communication technologies, and participatory organizational practices.  Currently exploring open space and self-organizing within community-based organizations seeking to increase citizen engagement in local issues and policies. 

    Peter Taylor (organizer)
    UMass Boston
    Having worked for many years on ecology and environmental research (Unruly Complexity, U. Chicago 2005), I have been taking my interests in heterogeneous complexities in new directions through engagement with various social epidemiological approaches that address the intersections of environment, health, and development. Bringing critical analysis of science to bear on the practice and applications of science has not been well developed or supported institutionally, and so I have contributed actively to new collaborations, programs, and other activities, new directions for existing programs, and collegial interactions across disciplines (e.g., International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, New England Workshop on Science and Social Change).

    Morgan Thomson
    Harvard University

    Engaged in cell biology and genetics research studying Huntington's disease. Also xploring formal and informal modes of "educational" dialog and engagement in the sciences with a particular view to creating new (e.g. Science Presentation as a Performing Art nanocourse, Science Communication Collaborative, etc.) or supporting and developing existing programs (e.g. Science in the News, etc.) that utilize and train students in the sciences and communication while providing useful service to society.

    Logan Williams 
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Science and Technology Studies
    Interested in multilateral and bidirectional processes of innovative knowledge production and technology circulation between the U.S. and South Asia through nonprofit social entrepreneurial NGOs. Especially as these organizations address issues of undone science and create innovative high-technology products that circulate both in other less-developed countries and increasingly in developed countries. 

    Lee Worden
    McMaster University and UC Berkeley
    Self-organization, collective dynamics, and transformation. Ecological evolution, community structure, and dynamics. Cultural change, consensus formation, democracy, cooperation. Critical analysis of scientific discourses. Ways of facilitating global justice, equality, solidarity and sustainability.

    wiki version of program

    Last update 29 June '11