Saturday, February 21, 2009

Science and Technology Studies (STS)

At the end of last year I attended the "Towards STS networking in the Asia-Pacific", a two-day meeting at Victoria University of Wellington, 1-2 December 2008.
There were 45 participants from China, Japan, Singapore, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and a total of 24 papers were presented (including keynote and plenary talks), representing a wide range of STS perspectives and research approaches. The organisers released a report on several concrete outcomes that resulted from this meeting.

1. A special journal issue of selected papers from the workshop will be pursued by the workshop organisers, in the first instance through the newly established East Asian Science Technology and Society Journal.

A call for papers will be set in motion in February 2009, following the themes from the workshop, with the aim of publication in late 2010.

2. A regional STS Network is to be set up, with a convening group. A/Prof Richard Hindmarsh (Griffith University, Brisbane) was invited by workshop participants to be the inaugural Convenor (for 2009), with advisors Dr Karen Cronin and Virginia Baker (ESR, Wellington), and support contacts in China (Dr Ma Huiduan), Japan (A/Prof. Tomiko Yamaguchi), and Singapore (Dr Sulfikar Amir). However, as A/Prof Hindmarsh is also the organiser for the next STS workshop in Brisbane in November 2009, he has passed on the role of Convenor to Karen Cronin but remains on the committee as Deputy Convenor. Karen’s employer (Environmental Science and Research Ltd) is extending its capability in the STS field and has kindly agreed to provide support for the Network e.g. through hosting web pages, contact database.

3. Format for the Network. Rather than creating another professional association, it is envisaged that the Network will be an informal group, aimed at developing collegial relationships in the Asia Pacific region. It would operate primarily though an annual workshop, along with an email contact list and a website. There will be no formal membership, committee structure, or fees. The annual workshop will be self funding through registrations, grants and sponsorship. To share the workload, the Convenor role will be rotated on an annual basis [to December]. The Convenor will co-opt support from among the Network members, including appointing an organising group for the annual workshop.

The Network will be open to those with an interest in STS research, theory and practice in the Asia Pacific region, and it will be complementary to existing formal associations. Many network participants already belong to established national or international STS/HPS associations. The Wellington meeting agreed to investigate the options for a complementary support relationship with a potential regional chapter of 4S, but upon investigation this option is not available.

4. It was agreed to hold the next STS networking workshop in Brisbane, in late November 2009, with Richard Hindmarsh as the organiser. The Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, of which Richard is a member, is kindly providing primary funding support. Special features of the Brisbane meeting will be a focus on the environment and on indigenous issues.

5. Network members are also looking forward to meeting again in August 2010 in Japan, at the 4S annual meeting in Tokyo. This will be an opportunity to extend our contacts in the Asia Pacific region and potentially present joint papers or sessions.

6. The Wellington meeting was honoured to have the participation of Professor Chen Fan, Chief Professor at the Innovation Institute of Philosophy and Social Science for STS Northeastern University, China and President of the Chinese STS Society, along with his colleague Dr Ma Huiduan. Prof Fan kindly offered to host a future regional STS networking meeting in China in 2011 or 2012.

7. Website information on the Wellington workshop was hosted on a blog. Following the workshop, the blogsite is being updated with a photo of participants, the programme, keynote and plenary speakers’ details, and the abstracts.

The full workshop presentations and future information for STS networking will be set up soon on a permanent web page, hosted by Environmental Science and Research (ESR) on its STS pages.

Finally, we would like to thank once again all our speakers, and in particular our sponsors: Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the Victoria Management School at Victoria University of Wellington, the Building Research Capacity in the Social Sciences Fund (BRCSS) in New Zealand, and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University in Brisbane.

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Simon Lambert

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