Andrew Webster Lecture & ECR Summer School 2022

Guildhall, York | 7th Septmeber 2022

The Univerity of York is hosting Andrew Webster Annual Lecture in celebration of the life and contribution of AsSIST-UK’s co-founder, Professor Andrew Webster (1951-2021). 

The lecture will be given by Professor Klaus Hoeyer, University of Copenhagen on the topic of Health in space: Making sense of the experience of data-intensive cross-border healthcare

Klaus is Professor of Medical Science and Technology Studies at the Centre for Medical Science and Technology Studies (MeST), University of Copenhagen. He has worked with a range of topics in medical STS, including biobanks, ethics regulation, stem cell research, organ and tissue transplantation. More recently he has focused on data politics and what he calls ‘intensified data sourcing’ in everyday healthcare.

In addition to the lecture, the format for this first event will include a small panel of invited participants offering their reflections on Andrew and his intellectual contributions. We will also use the occasion to award the Andrew Webster Prize made by AsSIST-UK for an outstanding PhD in STS/innovation studies.

Register:

On the same day – 7th September, we invite Early Care Researchers (ECRs) to join a day of activity at The Guildhall in York with and for ECRs as part of a programme of activities organised by AsSIST-UK (the UK Association for Studies of Innovation, Science and Technology) to support ECRs in the post-pandemic period.

Planned plenary and small group sessions include developing your post-doc career; publication strategy, funding application workshop and “rent-a-mentor”. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Thanks to generous support from the University of York, Science and Technology Studies Unit/Sociology, there is no charge for participation.

Register:

We hope that participants will be able to secure funding for travel and accommodation costs. There is a modest bursary for those unable to secure support. Please email: R.Williams@ed.ac.uk

In Memoriam

Prof Andrew Webster (1951-2021)

We have learned with the greatest sadness of the passing of our dear colleague and friend, Professor Andrew Webster.

Andrew played a key role in establishing the UK Association for Studies of Innovation, Science and Technology (AsSIST-UK) after a long career devoted to supporting the scholarly community at the University of York and beyond.

These few words cannot express how much he has given to all of us – academically and personally – and how much he will be missed.

Our hearts go out to his family and many close friends and colleagues.

In sorrow and with deep affection,

Robin, Barbara, Rachel, Anne Marie, Katerina, Julia and Matjaz
AsSIST-UK Executive Committee

20th anniversary: Science and Society Report

James Wilsdon (Director, Research on Research Institute (RoRI) at the University of Sheffield) is hosting a virtual meeting on the morning of Tuesday 22 September for a UKRI-RoRI online workshop marking 20 years since the publication of the House of Lords ’Science and Society’ report. 

Speakers at the workshop will include Amanda Solloway MP, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation and Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser, the new CEO of UKRI. LordRobert Winston will be offering his own reflections, as one of a sadly-diminishing band of members of the original Lords’ committee, as will Prof Brian Wynne, who was the special adviser for that report. Other speakers include Fiona Fox; Clare Matterson; Imran Khan; Erinma Ochu, Sarah Castell and Jack Stilgoe. 


Full details and a link to register can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/science-and-society-20-years-on-legacy-and-lessons-for-a-post-covid-world-tickets-117511346601  

AsSIST-UK coordinates training in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

The Engineering and Physical Science Research Councils (and UKRI more generally) recently required that students at their Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) receive research training in the area of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). AsSIST-UK coordinated a Workshop in collaboration with Jack Stilgoe (UCL). Below is a brief report of the Workshop.

 The meeting brought colleagues involved in delivering research training and supporting RRI in UKRI/EPSRC CDTs across 12 Higher Education Institutes: Bristol, Edinburgh, Exeter, Kings College London, Imperial College, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, UCL. Participants shared a wide range of experiences and highlighted key institutional and pedagogic challenges. Though it is not feasible to capture all aspects some key messages emerged. 

The arrangements for delivering RRI varied greatly between institutions. Colleagues were generally promoting concerted provision across CDTs and postgraduate programmes to achieve economies of scale and networking benefits. Some CDTs had requested bespoke provision shaped around their substantive topics and broader framings. These activities cut across HEI’s largely discipline-based resource management structures. Their dispersal across different schools and faculties could pose challenges in securing resource streams needed to create new posts/sustain delivery.

Though the institutions represented were able to draw on expertise within their own institutions, it was noted that some organisations buy-in external RRI and related training. CDT students have heavy science and engineering workloads and may be anxious about being invited to engage with social science dimensions and approaches. They may feel overwhelmed and thus unwilling to do non-credit bearing work.

The experience of those working in the field of Synthetic Biology is that RRI may best emerge through bottom-up establishment of constructive relationships with students and their supervisors rather than making it a mandatory part of research training. Formal research training is often provided at the outset when its relevance would become more salient later in the PhD journey as students contemplate the application of their research and engaging with external players users/industrial partners/wider publics (e.g. in co-design activities). This was addressed as students developed RRI plans in the course of their projects in years 2-4. RRI was delivered through a range of methods including formal lecture based courses and through small group work (e.g. around values in design and co-design). It would be useful to consider teaching methods and also intended learning outcomes.

RRI scholars are keen to go beyond simply offering service teaching and to undertake somekinds of action research. This might seek to establish whether RRI activities are making a difference in terms of the socialisation of science and engineering (e.g. attitudes and orientation of students and supervisors). A central feature of this community is an emphasis on reflective practice and many colleagues have been actively considering the conflicts and contradictions that may accompany these efforts. Thus scholars in the field are concerned to avoid being cast into a particular role (e.g. of running ELSI assessment or public engagement exercises). This may be facilitated by creative engagements between specialists in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, with cognate groups in Law, Ethics, Business Schools and also more widely – for example the creative engagements with artists (e.g. the Synthetic Aesthetics project with synthetic biologists) – let alone technical specialists in STEM subjects.

Future meetings are planned with a view to establishing a network devoted to this issue. Please do contact Robin Williams, (R.Williams@ed.ac.uk), if you are interested in joining this initiative. 

AsSIST-UK virtual workshop

Join us in this virtual workshop to explore how Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) can contribute towards our understanding of the pandemic and future possibilities.

Report from the seminar (click to download)

Speakers

Eva Giraud is Senior Lecturer at Keele University. Among Eva’s research interests is non-anthropocentric theoretical work, which explores ways of thinking and acting in the world that move beyond human exceptionalism.

Reiner Grudmann is Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Nottingham and Director of its interdisciplinary STS Research Priority Group. Reiner’s main research interest is the relation between knowledge and decision making.

Michael Schillmeier is Professor of Sociology at the University of Exeter, UK and was a Schumpeter-Fellow of the VolkswagenStiftung. Michael’s work is concerned with the becoming of social relations, actors, practices and concerns whereby the ‘non-normal’ plays a central part.

Andy Stirling is Professor of Science and Technology at SPRU Sussex and co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre. Andy’s work aims to contribute to ‘democratising progress’ towards equal societies, distributed power and sustainability.

Annie Wilkinson is a Research Fellow in anthropology and health systems research at the IDS in Sussex. Annie conducts interdisciplinary, participatory and applied research on health in LMICs and has expertise in zoonotic disease, epidemic preparedness and control.

COVID-19 Resources

Across the Association, colleagues have published some quick response papers and resources about Covid-19