BRUCE LEWENSTEIN: Good afternoon and welcome. My name is Bruce Lewenstein I'm the Chair of the Department of Science and Technology Studies here at Cornell. And it's a real honor to be hosting this meeting celebrating the 40th anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the Society for Social Studies and Science, which was held here, literally in these rooms on this floor. So we are in the right place.
We're delighted that some of the participants in the original meeting are here to join is. For the three people in the room who may not know what I'm talking about, in 1975, a small group of historian, sociologists, philosophers, and scientists came together interested in the growing scholarship that focused on the social aspects of science and the body of knowledge and the process and is a set of institutions. And they planned the inaugural meeting of their new Society for the Social Studies of Science for November 4th through 6th, 1976. So we're a week early. [? We're here at ?] Cornell.
I don't want to say too much about that meeting, because we're going to hear about it from a bunch of the speakers, and there's a whole panel on it tomorrow. But I can say that it has profoundly influenced many of us, certainly, probably, most of us in the room. I was a graduate student in the mid 1980s, about 10 years later, studying with Arnold [? Thackeray, ?] an historian of science, who was at that original meeting, and whose reading list often sent me to the works by people who were at that meeting.
Arnold, by the way, sends his best wishes. And he's sorry that he couldn't attend. I'm sure many of you have similar stories of reading lists that trace make in some way to people who were at that meeting.
But that was 40 years ago. Why this meeting? Why now? Well, first, any excuse for a party. But secondly, because we do still have the opportunity to share stories with some of those original participants.
Some of the people from that 1976 meeting are, alas, no longer with us. Others, who are still alive, are not able to travel and come to be with us. And so, as I said, we're glad that we do have some of those original participants here with us today.
But most importantly, we're meeting now because we're at an important time in science and technology studies. While we can mark some its origins as a discipline to particular moments, like that 1976 meeting, we're also increasingly aware of the many other streams that have contributed to [INAUDIBLE], from policy studies to anthropology, to literature, communication, and so on and so on. Part of our challenge is both to understand the ideas and goals that brought people together for that first meeting and to understand how all those other streams have shaped where we are now and where we are going. That's the STS [INAUDIBLE] part of our title-- where we have been and where we're thinking of going.
Notice that I just said "thinking" of going. We might not go there. We might go somewhere else. We might start down one path and get diverted. Many of us are imagining new kinds of paths altogether, new territories, maybe even new worlds to explore.
This is an exciting and dynamic field [INAUDIBLE]. The idea of this meeting today and tomorrow is to combine reminiscences and projections to see what those possibilities are. We're not trying to fix or pin down precisely what STS is, but rather to use the opportunity to understand and imagine its complexities, past, present, and future.
Before we move on for our [INAUDIBLE] speaker, a couple of logistical issues. First, if you haven't found them yet, the bathrooms are on this floor. The women's room is sort of behind me back there. And the men's room is back that way.
Following this afternoon's [INAUDIBLE], I hope you'll all join us for a reception across the hall in room 701. Tomorrow there will be coffee breaks right before [? and ?] in the mid-afternoon in the space sort of over here. Lunch will be a buffet that's set up in 701. But then people bring your food back in here because we will have a lunchtime panel. There are copies of the program over there on the table.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask any of us from Cornell. I especially want to call out-- there was a person to ask and to thank-- Trina Garrison. And I hope the door's still open and she can hear me out there.
And Trina has been the powerhouse and logistical wizard [INAUDIBLE]. I was going to ask for a round of applause, but you beat me to it. The final reason for having this meeting is to help us celebrate the department of Science and Technology Studies' 25th birthday. [? We ?] turned 25 this year, a remarkable achievement for a field that still feels like it's emerging and struggling.
Just a few months ago, for the first time in those 25 years, we moved into our own single space, now occupying two floors at one end of the original stone building on the west side of the Arts quad. I won't rehearse the full history of Science and Technology Studies here at Cornell. I'll just note that Cornell's first president, founding president, Andrew Dickson White, was clearly an STS person. His best known work is called A History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom.
Given our birthday, it's a tremendous pleasure for me to be able to welcome back to Cornell, Sheila Jasanoff, founding chair of the STS Department. Sheila served on the committee that recommended the formation of the department and then took that recommendation and did the hard work of convincing the rest of the College of Arts and Sciences that we should come to the meeting. Alas, we only kept Sheila for another couple of years, eight years, before she went off to Harvard, where she is now the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies and director of the Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Beginning with a degree in mathematics from Ratcliffe, Sheila earned a PhD in Linguistics and a JD from Harvard. She did practice environmental law for a couple of years before coming to Cornell in 1978, just after that inaugural [INAUDIBLE] meeting. Here she joined with [INAUDIBLE], another person who [INAUDIBLE] discipline, to turn what was then primarily a teaching and lecture program on science, technology in society into a center of research and scholarship on the policy and politics of science.
Throughout her career, Sheila has made important theoretical and methodological contributions to STS, for example, through her comparative studies of politics and science. Her early work on FDA and EPA regulations led to one of her best-known books, The Fifth Branch--Science Advisers as Policymakers. Her edited volume on States of Knowledge-- the Co-Production of Science and Social Order signaled a turn to broader issues of governance and the nature of democracy, such as her more recent book, Designs On Nature, Science, and Democracy in Europe and the United States.
Most recently, she just published a few months ago The Ethics of Invention, addressing even more directly the technology side of science and technology studies. That would
be more than enough career for most of us. But I've skipped over six other authored books, seven edited books, well over 100 major articles and book chapters and too make shorter pieces to count. Of particular importance to us [? in meeting ?] and thinking about the past, present, and future of STS was her lead editorship of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies published in 1995 and her role as Section Editor of the Science and Technology Studies in the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences published in 2001.
Carrying [? SNTS ?] into the broader world, she served on the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For her work, she's received the Don K. Price Award from the American Political Science Association. Don Price was one of the early scholars on science policy. She's received the George Sarton Chair and medal from the University of Ghent-- George Sarton was one the founders of modern history of science-- and, of course, the John Desmond Bernal prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science. She was also the president of 4S in 1999 and 2000. And thus, it's a tremendous honor to welcome Sheila back to Cornell. Sheila.
SHEILA JASANOFF: Thank you, Bruce. Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Trina, the people I've been immediately corresponding with. I have to tell you that I had very little idea until I came into this room and discovered all of you what the dimensions and the internal make up of this occasion were going to be. If I had known in advance-- it was obvious that there was a storytelling dimension to this-- and I would have written a story with each and every one of you whom I know and left open-ended space enough for all the others as well.
But I didn't know. So I had to make a guess about what might conceivably be appropriate to say. All I had basically was the title of this occasion, and I had to go with that. So, Bruce, although a historian, allows his kindness to get the better of him at times.
I actually was not part of the committee that brought this department into being. I had the good fortune, the good sense, or the good politics to be away in the year in which the department was actually voted into existence, and thereby missed some of the more problematic politics of getting things off the ground. But in that same way, I also missed the beginning of 4S. 4S happened two years before I came in this room. But of course, I ended up spending a great deal of my time just below here and hosting things in this room as well.
So I thought I'd begin just with a prequel. That is the totality, as far as I can tell, of the program of that initial 4S meeting. I found it on the internet, which has all kinds of treasures. And this apparently was Sal [INAUDIBLE] personal copy initialed by him. So if anybody wants the PDF, it's available on the web, or you can have it from me as well.
But I think you see, roughly-- I don't know why Bruno appears with his name with two capital letters. Perhaps you were spelling it that way at that time. But there he is sandwiched in somewhere in the middle with citation counts or something like that as the topic.
Anyway, it's worth looking at that program to see what kinds of things people were talking about. But since the most recent 4S meeting had something like 2,000 papers, it is a measure of the kind of growth that has happened between then and now. I myself arrived two years later.
I have to say that that initial meeting did not seem to have left a huge number of echoes in this building, because I didn't actually hear about 4S until several years after I got here. When I got here, the set up, the architecture of this place actually looked quite different from the way it looks now. There was the front of Clark Hall, and there is a rather young Dorothy [? Nelkin ?] who was the only sort of active researcher who was associated with it.
There were a number of male founders of the program who were all on the verge of retirement or stepping down or moving aside or doing something else. But she was very much at the peak of her career. One reason that Dorothy was hard to pin down is that probably between her and me, we had enough degrees for a normal person, because she had none, and I had a couple of graduate degrees.
But it seems that whether you have too many or too few, it allows you to bridge barriers and sort of appear like nothing easily classifiable. Anyway, so Clark Hall, the Physics Building, was where STS was stuffed, mostly on the sixth floor. And eventually, my office occupied that corner down below. But we'll get to that shortly.
So what was going on in the program at the time that I arrived? Very much-- scientific and technological change were looked at as things that had impacts down the line. And one of the major offerings of the program at that time was a course called The Impact and Control of Technological Change.
I'm told, for those of you who are new to the campus, that the course, when offered, use to fill Bailey Hall down there, which is one of Cornell's biggest ever lecture theaters, because that course got designed sort of at the heyday of the Vietnam War and mobilization around environment. And there was a plan, for awhile, to build a nuclear power plant here, up the lake, Cayuga Lake. And that had the effect of producing a sort of catalytic conversion of the entire town of Ithaca into a single social movement to block this nuclear power plant.
It was one of the early case studies that Dorothy [? Nelkin ?] actually wrote about that established her career in the field. But it's interesting to read that in 1971, the Cornell University program on Science, Technology, and Society developed an interdisciplinary course for undergraduates called The Impact and Control of Technological Change.
The intent of the course is to develop the capacity of students to analyze a set of policy problems associated with technological change. This requires an unusual use of university resources. In fact, they had an external grant to fund this.
The course tries to innovate by drawing on faculty members from different disciplines whose research is in areas which could contribute to the understanding of specific policy issues. So the birth of STS was very much tied to contemporary policy debates. There's very little sense here of looking inside the black boxes of science and technology. It's very much science and technology operating as physical forces on something else called society.
The main product of that era, though, was a [? genre ?], a [? genre ?] of work that came to be called Controversy Studies, in some ways paralleling the work on controversy studies in the Edinburgh School. But I really think that these were cases of parallel innovation. And Dorothy [? Nelkin ?] was very much associated with developing that way of thinking about controversies. And indeed her very well-known text textbook, which went through something like three editions before it stopped being used, it's still available as a sort of classic of the STS literature. It was simply called Controversy. And there were changing case studies, and probably there are some people in this room who contributed a chapter to one or another edition of that book.
This was all before I arrived. This is the sort of groundwork that I found laid here when I got here. So the first sort of encounter between that policy-centric looking at the external ramifications of scientific and technological change with something else that was stirring, mostly across the ocean, was around the sociology of scientific knowledge. And of course, there is a person whom I consider to be one of my introducers into that hybridization of what was going on the other side of the ocean and what was happening here.
It's a person whose name is rather associated with the word "boundary." And I couldn't find a picture of exactly the right time. But this is close enough. And in an interview in 1997, he was asked about sociology of science and STS. And here's an interesting quotation.
"Despite the worries of STS's survival--" so this is 1997, right in the wake of the science wars that happened in 1996. "Despite the worries of STS's survival, most science sociologists--" it's a term that I've heard the equivalent of possibly in French, but not in English-- "believe the future holds potential.
This field has just begun to grow. It's going to grow dramatically in the years ahead, predicts Tom Geryn, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University in Bloomington. No one can deny the intellectual effervescence in sociology of science. It's just been extraordinary." And disappeared in The Scientist, February 1997.
So the passage is quite interesting to see a past master of the art of boundary work assiduously avoiding drawing boundaries by seguing between STS and sociology of science and science sociology without making any commitments in either direction. But he was one of my early, and still most memorable, failures because attempt to hire him into this very program's predecessor. And he refused by doing a bit of boundary work between Ithaca and Bloomington but also between STS and sociology. But perhaps he'll talk more about that in due course.
So then the strategy of doing STS moved, you might think, to another framework in which the idea of users looms large. And so you could think of the next phase of STS at Cornell as being about creating a user-friendly space for people drawn from a variety of perspectives. And that actually stood us in good stead when we shifted over from being a program to being a department. And Tom, your great refusal, of course, led to Trevor's great acceptance. And we were quite fortunate, at one and the same movement, to hire Trevor into the predecessor of the STS department and into joint work producing what's called "The Second Handbook of STS" except nobody knows what the First Handbook of STS is or why it should be called the "First Handbook of STS."
But in the sort of blurry history that we all love to write and call messy, because messiness is all, as you know, as a norm in STS. It's entirely appropriate that the first handbook so-called should actually have been the secondhand book of that title.
So there's that handbook. And it's interesting what the internet remembers and doesn't remember. I tried to get pictures of all the editors but was totally unable-- maybe one of you can help me-- to find any kind of pictorial record of Gerry Markle. So the historians and burrowers and collectors among you are hereby challenged to find and send me a picture of Gerry Markel, if you can possibly unearth one.
But there's Trevor, and there's Jim Petersen and me. And that handbook, I think, was attempting to do something to the field or about the field that had not been tried before. So first of all, it was the first handbook that was explicitly commissioned by that very 4S whose birth we're celebrating on this occasion.
So it was a handbook for the Society. The proceeds of the handbook were to go to the Society, for instance. And we were attempting to bring together, therefore, something like a profile of the Society as it then existed.
One of the things we did was issue a fairly wide-ranging call for chapters, and that has become practice by now. That's the way in which the two subsequent handbooks have also proceeded. And people sent in things that they wanted to write about. And from that, we had a selection session and came up with a number of chapters.
As I recall, we had something like 160 submissions. None of the submissions did classical sociology of science in the [? Mertonian ?] sense that people had come to regard as sociology of science before. And this led to a certain amount of, shall we say, tensions when the old and the new got together. But I still have very fond memories of sitting in New Haven with Gerry Markel, Jim Peterson, and Trevor sorting through these chapters and coming to a selection of what we thought would represent the field in a truthful but at the same time embracing a wide-ranging way.
So of course, you can't just think of users. You have to think of wider networks. And you could think about the next phase of building STS, particularly once the department was made, as having been a bit of an extension of the networks. And that's when we became departmentalized over there on the sixth floor of Clark Hall. And you can see the corner offices.
The furthest one over was mine and then the secretarial office, and I believe you can see Trevor's window, the then window. So that was hallowed space where the early days of STS got crystallized. And fairly early in the birth of the new department we had a visit by one of STS's most distinguished traveling emblems.
He gave the "Messenger Lectures" at that time, later published in a sort of working paper format. But it's interesting how it's described in the series of three lectures, shortened in one long paper as presented, "The Philosophical, Sociological, and Mythical Account of the Links Between Humans and Non-humans." And I think you will recognize in the work, as it extends from then to now, this connection between the terrestrial and the mythical that has remained a thematic of Bruno's ever since.
But what I remember most from those lectures was something that to me symbolized a little bit the kinds of struggles that were taking place within the program and the department itself. So there's Bruno. And I tried, again, to try to find a picture of us as we were. But it's a little bit difficult.
But the figure on the right, who will be known to the Cornellians, here but not everybody else, at least the old guard Cornellians, was [? LPS ?] Williams, who was the distinguished professor of history and history of science down the hill there. And I believe Bruno spoke in a room in Goldwin Smith Hall, which is sort of midway between the two departments. And he was using an overhead projector, an ancient technology-- but I tried to get a picture of it-- that had a wire in it. Because, as I recall, one of the early demonstrations of what the links between humans and non-humans was supposed to mean in practice and the [? agential ?] quality of the non-human was played out for us in a little [INAUDIBLE] orchestrated by Bruno. Because lo and behold, he put up this overhead, and all of a sudden there was a sort of pop, and the light went out. And [? Pierce, ?] who was in the front row, jumped up, as any good host would, and started fiddling with the lights and fiddling with everything. And of course nothing happened because unbeknownst to Pierce, somebody had been instructed to unplug this machine.
So that displayed what to me is a truism-- look behind the agency of the thing, and you will find intention and agency of the magician. But in any event, that was early days in extending our networks out from Cornell. By that time, I think it had come to be accepted that there wasn't one kind of STS here in North America and another kind of STS somewhere else, but that there really was a growing single intellectual community that embraced different points of view and different perspectives.
We were doing other kinds of things as well. So for archivists among you, we were also reaching out and trying to create new kinds of collections, learning and teaching materials. And this was one of our early forays in translating the work [? and ?] law into things, usable items. And you will still find the Cornell library the result of our labors from that period.
So there in the middle is Saul [? Halfin ?], in case anybody is here from his department. But what we were doing is putting together the OJ archives-- OJ not for Orange Juice, but for Simpson. And we were looking through the sort of traditional and nontraditional materials around the DNA fingerprinting dimensions of that case and creating a collection of contemporary history.
Now, this followed something that Bruce was already involved in because the cold fusion case had come before. And we had already developed some institutional expertise in doing a recording of things as they're unfolding. And after this period, came the 2000 election. And I hope you're all geared up to do something for the 2016 election, because if it is rigged, then surely there is going to be a technical dimension. And Florida is going to be the site. So this time you can approach it with your sleeves rolled up and ready to go.
So we were, at that point-- there wasn't a question of talking about policy relevant STS versus some other kind of STS. It was recognized in this very project that things like policy and law were [? sites ?] of knowledge making, and that we as students of these times in these places owed it, in a sense, to scholarship and to future users to record the kinds of things going on and to try to make sense of evanescent phenomena that were not going to be evanescent in terms of their eventual implications for social development. So of course, the society side does not stand still. And you can think of what I've been involved in since moving to Harvard as, to some extent, rebuilding new kind of social to accommodate what is by now a far more diverse, as you've already heard from Bruce, and far more numerous society of people doing STS.
For me, the site is the Kennedy School. And at least Fellows in my program will recognize why I picked a picture that features zebra stripes crossing to and from the Kennedy School. I think the traffic lights are not there in that picture. But since then, of course, they have taken their place and tell us something about technology developing and its regulatory functions as well.
So that is where the Program on Science, Technology, and Society at Harvard as is currently housed. And we had a kind of marker on what actually was this department's 20th birthday, so five years ago. So it's interesting to observe the next five-year cycle happening here now. And it was very much an exercise that was geared toward both looking back and taking stock and looking ahead. And for the purposes of this department, it's worth recalling that there were four people asked to produce provocations to guide the discussion at that meeting, and Trevor did one of them. And he made a strong argument that's still available, I think, on YouTube in video form, that we should no longer talk about emerging fields.
I believe he even said STS has emerged. So I think that that's something that we could talk about further, as tomorrow's session moves ahead as well. So co-production, it's already been named. And one can think about how that's proceeding. So people talk a lot about reflexivity, but I'm not sure to what extent the STS scholars are inclined to think about the development of their own field in the same kind of theorizing reflexive terms that they're so eager to bring to other fields of study and analysis.
But to some extent, of course, our theorizing has a particular point because we are engaged in building the conditions of possibility for the study of the very thing that is supposed to be housing us. So it's not like excavating your foundations while you're working. But it is certainly looking with X-ray vision at your foundations and thinking about where to push them to next and how to develop them further.
So there is a knowledge dimension to it. And one can capture it in books, to some extent. It's interesting to me that States of Knowledge, as an edited volume with a not particularly first-rank-- I mean, it's a perfectly well-known press, Rutledge. But it's not what citation counters, bean counters would count as the top press for social sciences. But it's almost as highly cited now as The Fifth Branch, which Bruce mentioned earlier on. And I see these two sort of bookend operations.
They're both edited volumes-- The Imaginaries volume that came out a year ago and States of Knowledge-- as accommodating something of this new assemblage of STS that I'm involved in, not so far away from here and certainly not far away in spirit.
One of the things that houses this new STS is the Science and Democracy Network. And I see the Sciences and Democracy Network in a variety of different ways. First of all, it's a very nice annual meeting. Any of you who are interested in coming are very welcome to come.
But it's also ended up forming a community. And so to the extent that we believe that knowledge orders thrive when there are people who feel themselves inhabiting those knowledge domains, I think that, for me, the Science and Democracy network has become the home for the kinds of people who are interested in doing the sorts of work that make up this strand of STS. Of course, it's not the only strand. It just happens to be the one that I've been heavily involved with ever since I essentially had to leave Cornell.
Is it easy? No, it's not. We have been trying to institutionalize our brand of STS at Harvard. And quite recently we were told that there was no need for it, in effect, because the Harvard-- well, Harvard was understood. The History of Science faculty are deeply engaged in the study of STS and pursue a blend of history and STS in their research and teaching that is intellectually diverse, methodologically pluralistic, and highly regarded. You wonder where the chinks are to get in.
While the department is saddled with a name that is limiting, the actual program is quite broad and broad-minded in its orientation. It is worth noticing that this is not simply the assertion of a non-specialist, but also reflects the informed judgment of past visiting committees to the department. Well, as the author of a book on peer review in the public domain in 1990, of course I was particularly interested at this invocation of peer review to further legitimate what the mere accident of nominalism kept from being recognized in its true value.
So what does onetel oneself? Fairy stories, of course. And therefore, one can leave with a bit hobbitism, that if we want to travel, the road is there. It's good to go on. Circular doors or other doors, they stand open. And Tolkien himself said, "now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can."
I'm not sure what the ontological status of that road that's already gone on and us not there really is. I would be myself tending should think it was a co-production, and the road isn't there till the traveler is also there. But in any event, that is a brief history of my own trajectory since I arrived two years after that famous meeting that established 4S in this room. So thank you.
BRUCE LEWENSTEIN: Thank you, Sheila. Just as a reassurance, next Tuesday we will be having a panel discussion here on campus about the election, at which I will be speaking about the book, The Role of Technology in [? Rigging ?] [? Votes ?] and showing a photo of some of the artifacts that we collected from that voting archive in 2000.
We have time for some questions or discussion if people w would like to. I'm going to actually carry this microphone to anybody who wants to ask a question, just so that we can hear in this room. Anybody like to-- is that hand here? No. Question or [INAUDIBLE]. Here we go. And why don't you identify yourselves since we are a diverse crowd.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. That was a very wonderful narrative of the past 25 or 30 years. It's really amazing to think about how far STS has come. I'm a graduate student at RPI. My name is [? Karen Kotsky. ?] And I'm about to graduate, so I'm really excited to be on the cusp of this kind of conversation.
I curious about how you see the Science and Democracy Network in relation to 4S. Why does 4S not support the conversations that happen in the Science and Democracy Network?
SHEILA JASANOFF: Yeah, so that's a very valid question about the Science and Democracy Network on 4S. But I think you could ask that of any two societies. And you know why doesn't History of Science Society support the kind of work we do in STS, given that, as we saw in that quotation, the History of Science Department is already doing everything that STS is doing? So the answers have to be informed by our own work.
So we believe that if practices are very different, for instance, then the kind of community that develops and carries on around whatever that activity is will also form a different set of relationships and look different. So SDN, it's much, much smaller. It's meetings tend to be, at most, on the order of 100. Much more to the point, it is entirely plenary, with pre-circulated papers. And therefore there's a different kind of qualitative check than 4S, where four or five people will speak for 10, 15 minutes. And 4S has increasingly become more like the job-hunting professional societies that are characteristic of big fields.
Most big fields that I know have broken up in other ways as well-- so often regionally. So you can have a sociology association with thousands and thousands of people that meets once a year. But you can have regional societies or societies that specialized in various ways.
So I think SDN is a bit of an answer to the very successes and expansions of 4S. So there are a couple of people here in this room who will appreciate very much exactly what I'm talking about. Because when 4S was just an American society and holding its meetings in the US, it was quite small. A typical 4S meeting was on the order of maybe 250, 300 people. And we used to meet in quite out-of-the-way places that were not conference cities and not places that people would actually pay money to go to. One of the very first really big meetings I went to was the extremely successful meeting organized by [? Caryn, ?] which was a joint 4S and [? East ?] meeting in Bielefeld.
Now, Bielefeld is maybe not the top draw city in Germany from that point of view, but [? Karen' ?] [? penship ?] of 4S certainly was. And as I recall, it had something like 800 people that year. And then we started, during my presidency of 4S, to make a point of actually holding those meetings in places that people would come to.
Now, with the sort of curious synchronicity of bad fate that I had, I supervised two meetings. The first one was in 2000, and it was going to be held in Vienna under the joint auspices of [INAUDIBLE] [? Feldt ?] and me, and Rob [? Hockindyke ?] I think was president of [? East. ?] [INAUDIBLE] [? Feldt ?] was the local program coordinator.
So that was the first year that the far right came into power in Vienna. And at the last minute, we had all kinds of, well, hesitations-- legitimate hesitations about whether people wanted to come to that or not. And I know there are people in this room who felt strongly that sort of hesitation. And in the end, we pointed out that Vienna was the sort of island in the middle of a gradually conservative-turning place. And that didn't make much sense to boycott the University of Vienna or the city of Vienna.
But the next year, we were going to have this meeting actually around those dates, November 1st and November 4th, kind of anniversary dates for 4S of 2001. And in the month before the meeting, something like 200 people bowed out because a European colleagues did not want to fly to the US in November of 2001. In the end, it ended up being quite a big meeting as well.
But these are some of the sort of contingencies of history. But still a far cry from the couple of thousand people, 1,000-plus that are routinely going to 4S meetings now. But there's also an intellectual side to this which is that 4S was extremely late recognizing, or re-recognizing, what I think have been homegrown American concerns about the power of science and technology in relation to social and political power. And for several years, when my students and junior colleagues would proposed panels, they would find routinely they were getting stuck into the Sunday morning leftover session in sort of dismal basements of dismal hotels. And the group of people who thought seriously about the constructedness fact an artifact, but also about their relationship to the constructions of power and society, that group was not particularly foregrounded in debates and discussions inside of 4S.
That has obviously shifted somewhat. But quite a lot of people who come to SDN still don't feel anything like the intellectual resonance that they feel at SDN from going to 4S for these sorts of reasons.
AUDIENCE: Thank you for this talk. My name's [INAUDIBLE]. I got a Master's in STS at [? Tufts ?] University. I'm not [INAUDIBLE]. And my main question kind of concerns the shift in STS scholarship. As early STS scholars, like myself, are starting to claim dominion primarily in STS rather than anthropology, sociology, or [INAUDIBLE] science, what do you think the next change in the field of STS will be from that outcome? Or do you think there will be one?
SHEILA JASANOFF: Well, Tom already told us that it was going to be dramatically changing. I don't think change has been so dramatic because, of course, it turns out that some of the most conservative and therefore long-lasting institutions in the world are monarchies and universities. And they keep themselves alive by having their metabolism slowed down to a point where nothing impedes.
So it is going to be a while before STS becomes part of the recognized order of things. Plus, I have senior colleagues in this very room who probably do not share my view that there needs to be a place for the people trained like you. It's not that you have your diploma there, right, I mean that it says STS.
It's that there's an identity there. And that identity is not subsumed in any of those other fields that you're talking about. So now, this is sort of boringly conservative, in order to find a place for those identities, you do actually have to have some kind of platform and resources. And I think STS people have been incredibly creative in finding places for themselves in all sorts of locations.
So when this department has been reviewed, one of its proud accomplishments has been the ability to say that the PhD students go into all kinds of places, not even necessarily only academia, other sort of high-performance jobs as well. But that they're kind of STS is recognized as an add-on, a productive add-on to fields like sociology, anthropology, or what have you. And I would hope for an STS that wouldn't be able to do that.
I still think that, for me, the point of doing STS is not to create people with some other kind of letter on their diplomas. I mean, that's really trivial. That's not the point. The point is create a place in which a sort of serious ongoing critique of scientific and technological societies can be carried on. And other fields, even if you add them all up, are just not really doing it.
They're looking at other questions. Their questions do not center on the kinds of things that we in STS immediately recognize as our sorts of questions. Trevor was right when he said it has emerged, and this was just five years ago, because, to some extent, it's nothing even a secret handshake. It's a quite public handshake.
You do not have to explain yourself to other people who are doing STS. You can say I'm working on such and such, and it will be recognized as part of the repertoire of the stuff we do. And for that, within universities, there aren't very many obvious ways, unless you colonize things that Tom has written about, like space. And this is something that was actually a very important piece of building this department.
It was extremely helpful that there already was a place, a space, for it. Because if it had been if it had to be carved out all new, I suspect we would have had a lot of pushback. As it is, we had to make all kinds of promises about how we were not going to expand our demands on teaching assistants and so on. And of course, the moment that the department was formed and I became chair, the first thing I did was to try to build up undergraduate courses so that we would be able to claim new, ongoing lines for our graduate students.
So I think that there's a huge amount of work to be done. I wish on my frustrated days that more people would recognize the real politique of academia and not treat it as a zero-sum game. That is we're not going to displace sociology. We're not going to displace anthropology. these fields have their own things. They're there to stay.
We certainly are not going to displace political science that has identified itself as being about rational choice. But the question of what rationality is all about does need to be asked. And where we put that study is a matter of all of us, to some extent, working together-- dare I say stronger together.
AUDIENCE: I'm [INAUDIBLE]. I'm a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Sciences and Health Department here at Cornell University. And so I'm wondering-- so I got my [INAUDIBLE] and my Master's in Anthropology. And my other cohort member is actually a historian. And I definitely agree with Trevor in this understanding that STS has emerged or has a boundary around itself right now [INAUDIBLE] free-floating interdisciplinary.
But I'm wondering if there's anything that has recently surprised you, any kind of connections or relations that have been constructed between STS and other disciplines, far-flung disciplines that have emerged, like mutual work has emerged [? that's ?] [? surprised ?] you recently?
SHEILA JASANOFF: That, again, is a very interesting question. But I think what surprised me is not the connection between STS and other new and emerging disciplines. My own experience is that STS was always quite prized and seen as having a place at the table in relation to other sort of cross-cutting fields, like environmental studies or also theorizing fields, like feminist theory or other fields that were engineering and society, whatever you want to-- things with "and" in them, the things from which you can't easily form an agent [? noun ?] and say, I am a whatever-- science-sociologist. You have to make up something awkward to talk about it that way.
In my own work, what I find surprising is the beginnings of serious uptake across the single-word disciplinary fields. And one thing that's always struck me as particularly ironic and amusing is that the last two fields that were looking at my work serious were the two that I was most trained in and most contributing to, namely political science and law. And for me, it's been an intellectual challenge to try to understand why it law seems so impervious to not just my brand of STS, but people who are sort of broadly working in this co-productionist way, given that I had gravitated to STS through the SSK and then the [? Scott ?] and [? ANT ?] pathways, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
I didn't know that there were names. I didn't know that what I saw as a category problem or a classification problem or a definition problem was a boundary problem and a demarcation problem somewhere else. But it seemed to be deja vu all over again when I found that people were doing all of that stuff.
So I always thought that the reverse half of that cycle would be equally obvious and easy. And now I've been teaching at Harvard Law School with a law colleague of mine for several years, and it is incredibly difficult in ways that I have not yet solved adequately to my own mind for why law students seem that adverse to it. I mean, obviously, I can give first-order answers, like law depends on a stability of facts and of a state of the world in order to apply its knowledge.
But that's not good enough, because no really smart lawyer thinks that. And they do all manipulate the construction of the world to suit their client's interests or their positions. But there's some kind of almost psychological sort of barrier that comes down.
So it's been interesting to discover that now, suddenly, in the last three or four or five years, feels like philosophy, with which there is a very special Cornell story to tell, which I don't think I will, and political theory and law beginning to gravitate to a kind of [? robustest ?] [? yes. ?] And I hope that that will bear out one of the things that I've always said about STS. I think that's always that STS needs to be internally coherent, but it also needs to be completely available and hospitably available to other fields and be able to talk to them about their own things, and not that it should close itself off. So I'm happy to see this beginning to happen.
AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Dave [INAUDIBLE], [INAUDIBLE] University. I was really pleased to hear your talk-- thank you very much-- and to get a better understanding of some background of this and just how STS has developed over the years. And so I'm curious, in your experience, having the seen the field grow and develop as it has over this time, would you also say that-- have you seen outside of academia a growing ability for STS to have connections and impact in ways that extends beyond academia? And would you believe that that's, [? again, ?] an important thing for the future?
SHEILA JASANOFF: Again, thanks for the question. I think it's an absolutely important thing for the future. So if you do a history of the social sciences, the social sciences have worked hand-in-hand with societal needs forever. And to some extent, the fact that the early STS initiatives here grew up saying we want to address policy questions is an indication of a particular kind of impetus.
Obviously, for a field like ours, that is given to a great deal of reflection and self-reflection, the question of when you're getting instrumentalized and merely made to serve as we need a public engagement exercise that's going to pacify the masses. So you guys put it on for us because you are the people with the expertise. And if we can say so-and-so STS professor at such-and-such place designed our procedure for us, then we're home free. So one obviously has to watch out for that sort of thing.
I think that our European colleagues have noted for a long time that the relations between STS and the world of decision-making policy, even law looks quite different in different European countries-- on the whole, more intimate and more collaborative even. Again, I have slightly shaded views about all of this. But I think by and large, it's right that people who call themselves STS scholars have found their way into places by virtue of being STS scholars. I mean, that is labeled as such, taken on board as such.
One very noted example is when Brian Winn was one of two experts called on by the British House of Lords to work with them to try to figure out what to do in the wake of the mad cow crisis, which had left British expertise and government in shambles. And the Brian was, of course, widely recognized as an STS scholar. And it sometimes feels as though in the Netherlands there's just this complete open-door policy between the STS world and the public policy world. And one could say similar sorts of things in France, too.
[? Michelle ?] [? Pilon ?] is sitting on a high-level advisory committees, talking about GMOs regulation, which, to my knowledge, [? Michelle ?] hasn't actually written about that. And I don't think it's his market expertise that's putting him in that room either. So there are individual people, disciplines.
European countries, on the whole, have slightly smaller disciplinary groupings and, to my mind, more porous boundaries among divisions. America's different. So as individuals, many of us who are STS scholars do get invited to participate in all kinds of things. Usually it's as something else.
So for instance, Steve serves on, has been involved in innumerable bioethics processes and committees and so forth, but not because of being an STS scholar. It's because he's recognized as somebody who can talk about bioethics. And bioethics is a sort of interesting example of something that came into being at roughly the same time as STS but has ensconced itself in this kind of instrumental role in a way that I hope STS never does.
But partly because of the sorts of things I write about [? epistemic ?] culture and political cultures, I think it's explainable why a field that is asking, to some degree, complicated and difficult questions about the nature of knowledge is not going to sit that easily next to the seats of power in a political culture that makes a point of declaring that there is a domain of knowledge which is simply not touchable by politics. And that is a sort of fairly deep-seated commitment in our political culture. And I think the kind of influence we can therefore expect to have will either require a revolution. Maybe after the election we'll have that. Or it's going to require a sort of deeper-going development of the 21st century post-enlightenment skeptical and yet knowledge-respecting global culture than I see signs of emerging as yet.
BRUCE LEWENSTEIN: So I think I'm going to use the reference to revolution as sign of maybe getting close to an edge here. I want to thank Sheila for having shown some of us when we had significantly lighter and darker hair and definitely less gray in our beards, and even more for having giving us a very stimulating introduction to this meeting. Please join me in thanking Sheila.
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Sheila Jasanoff, the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard Kennedy School, gave the plenary lecture at the conference, "Where has STS Traveled?" on Oct. 27, 2016. The two-day event celebrated the 40th anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Jasanoff was the founding chair of Cornell's Science and Technology Studies Department.