Our workshop will address the following themes:
Critical reflection on scientific authority has been central to science and technology studies (STS) for some time. Interrogating science’s claim to universality, apoliticism and autonomy, scholars have highlighted the suffusion of values, interests and power inherent in the production, use and consumption of scientific knowledge. Yet, recent political developments have raised questions about the value and ultimate purpose of such critique, leading to concerns about living in a “post-truth” era of “alternative facts.” For example, in massive demonstrations such as the March for Science, protesters oppose what they perceive as a radically altered relationship between science and power.
Echoing the science wars of another era, current conversations question the value and legitimacy of STS scholarship, given its thoroughgoing skepticism of scientific authority, and generate concerns about ceding the public sphere to entrenched private interests and traditional prejudice. As such, this workshop will consider the prospects for sustained investigation and questioning of science and its social standing. What is the role of STS scholars in these times of uncertainty? Does an embattled scientific community require social constructivists to modify, soften or abandon critique? Or is critique necessary now more than ever, given science’s role in sustaining various social injustices?