Heading into Spring

Last time I posted a round-up, we were about to find out what a Trump presidency would really mean on the ground. It turned out that his will to enact his promised agenda was even stronger than many of us anticipated. Pictured here is the headline news from two day’s ago — the executive order undoing Obama’s most far-reaching climate change legislation, the Clean Power Plan. At the right hand of Trump is Scott Pruitt, his EPA administrator, who has denied that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. With Rick Perry in charge of the Department of Energy, Rex Tillerson pursuing the fossil fuel industry’s foreign policy in his capacity as Secretary of State, and Lamar Smith chairing the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, plus dozens of others setting science policy for this administration, extreme ‘Merchants of Doubt’ are now the most powerful people in the world.

This is the situation we have faced since the George W. Bush presidency. While many practitioners of Science Studies have re-aligned their approach, and have repudiated the relativism that was the defining feature of the field, I still think it would be fruitful to confront the ‘alternative facts’ predicament more explicitly. To that end, our graduate student conference on May 19th-20th will culminate in a session on Science Studies in a post-fact world. The colloquium next term will also be tackling some related questions, see especially the session on April 24th.

The conference will be on the agenda for Monday’s program meeting, along with updates on the ‘other departments’ question, plus sundry administrative matters. It has been a full year since I took up the directorship, and I would welcome any feedback you have about the program and its direction, either in the meeting, over email, or, indeed, here on this website. Many thanks and see you next week…



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