Prof Jane Calvert to Deliver Andrew Webster Lecture on Science, Technology and Society

We are delighted to invite you to join us for the annual
Andrew Webster Lecture on Science, Technology and Society
on 7 September 2023
at the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, YO1 9TL 
1730 for 1800 start
Attendance is free, please register below.

This year’s speaker will be Professor Jane Calvert, University of Edinburgh who will talk on ‘Synthetic biology and the social sciences: making room for collaboration’.

Jane works in the sociology of the life sciences, and her current research focuses on attempts to engineer living things in the emerging field of synthetic biology. She has a long-standing interest in interdisciplinary collaborations of all sorts. 

We also have two respondents to Jane’s lecture: Dr Ros Williams‘(University of Sheffield) work spans across Science and Technology Studies (STS), critical media studies, sociologies of race and ethnicity, and of health and illness. Dr Koichi Mikami (Keio University in Japan) is interested in exploring the role of social sciences and humanities in the governance of science and technology. 

Book your place here: 

About Andrew Webster Lecture on Science, Technology and Society

To commemorate the life and work of Professor Andrew Webster, the Department of Sociology and SATSU established an annual lecture series that will showcase research in the broadly conceived area of science, technology and society. A Professor in the Sociology of Science at the University of York since 1999, Andrew was the founder and director of the Science and Technology Studies Unit, which he established originally at Anglia Ruskin University in 1988. He was Head of the Department of Sociology at York between 2004-2009 and then the Dean of Social Sciences. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Science in 2007.

ECR Spring Writing Retreat, 21-28 April 2023, Scottish Borders (Melrose)

The AsSIST-UK ECR Group is pleased to announce a week-long writing retreat in Melrose in the Scottish Borders. We’ll be staying at Harmony House, a beautiful venue owned by the National Trust of Scotland and we have space for 12 early career academics and scholars. We hope that the house and lovely gardens will provide the perfect space for some productive writing on a project of your choosing.

The retreat combines solo writing sessions, facilitated STS sessions designed for ECRs, and collaborative activities.

Apply below – deadline 15th March 2023!

Solo sessions give participants time to work or write on projects of their choosing. STS sessions provide opportunities to learn about and discuss topics, methods or skills with a senior member and will cover current European STS research group activities, collaboration skills, publishing and public engagement tools. Collaborative activities include practical and recreational activities like large-scale cooking or guided nature walks, to give participants time to network, identify collaborative possibilities, talk about their work in a new context, and relax.

This year we have the venue for longer than we have done previously, as we recognised that we often only just get stuck into a writing project when it is time to leave!

The event is kindly being funded jointly by the University of Edinburgh and EASST. As a result, we are able to cover the costs of accommodation and most of the food provided. Travel bursaries for domestic travel within the UK are also available for those without access to other external funding.

How to apply

To apply for a space, please complete our online form by 15th March:

You must have a writing project to work on and be a Masters or PhD student, or within 5 years of receiving your PhD, engaging in research in a topic relating the broad fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Innovation Studies.

AsSIST-UK ECR Group: 2023 Quarterly ECR Sessions

AsSIST-UK’s ECR Group have organising a series of events particularly designed with the early career scholar in mind. These sessions are being held throughout the year and are nearly all online so they can be as accessible as possible. They engage with topics or skills which are likely to be of interest to academics, scholars and researchers working in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Innovation Studies and who are looking to explore new methods or concepts or to position themselves as researchers in new surroundings.

Here is the full calendar of events:

Use the links above to sign up to the events – we look forward to seeing you there!

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.


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.


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:

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:  

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, (, 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)


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.