Round Up


Here’s a quick round up of Science Studies as we descend into the fateful month of January 2017.

Fueled by the anxious vigilance of fledgling directorhood, I found last quarter’s colloquium series pretty gripping, and there’s lots of great talks coming up. For me, the most significant one is Hal Pashler, from the Psychology Department. Significant because he is a local scientist talking on a metascientific issue and I think we should do more of this kind of programming. Thanks to Kerry McKenzie for inviting him.

One memorable colloquium session was with our colleagues in Anthropology. I blogged that the event was like someone throwing wide double doors in the SSP seminar room to reveal a pantheon of brilliant fellow travelers. More wittily, another audience member compared it to Thanksgiving dinner with someone else’s dysfunctional family… Anyway, the discussion was in aid of figuring out the still-unresolved question of other departments joining the program. There are now two possibilities: an individual faculty member can join, under the terms of our new arrangement, or a whole department might be able to attach itself, adding a fifth appendage to our four-footed beast. The way is as clear for both of these options, but it will be an intricate process, and so I will need to figure out what, if any, avenues to pursue. The issue will be on the agenda for the Winter Quarter meeting on January 9th.

Rebecca Hardesty, bless her soul, is organizing an SSP workshop in the spring. It will be held on Friday May 19th and Saturday May 20th, and will feature a series of different activities on the theme of interdisicplinarity. It will culminate in a session on the question of where to take Science Studies’ critique of objectivity in the era of fake news. My friend, the philosopher of mind and language Anandi Hattiangadi may be in town, and if so, she and I will do a joint presentation on the theme of ‘Science Studies minus relativism.’ We co-taught the first gender and science course in Cambridge HPS, and I think she is the perfect person to help us grapple with the age of trumpery and truthiness.

Because of our new divisional funding for the colloquium, we have the resources to put on a bigger show next year with more outside speakers. I will be soliciting possible themes at the meeting.

The cross-divisional FTE circus goes on apace, with a number of candidates coming for interview in the next few months who would fit right into Science Studies. I’ll keep everyone posted with details.

To my delight, we are co-sponsoring some events with the UCSD ‘South Asia Initiative’ including a roundtable on March 2nd with the novelist Vikram Chandra, author of Geek Sublime, “…an idiosyncratic history of coding. Part literary theory, part tech story and part memoir …” He will be joined by a panel of sublime UCSD geeks, including our own Lilly Irani. Thanks to Kamala Visweswaran for looping us in to this really fun-sounding event. Also, when Banu Subramaniam comes to Science Studies in May, Kamala and the other South Asia Initiative folks are hoping to keep her around the next day for an interdisciplinary session on caste genetics. Don’t let anyone say we shy away from the tough topics…