UCSD Science Studies Program

Workshop Overview

Twentieth Anniversary Workshop:"Science Studies in Context"

March 19-20, 2010
Institute of the Americas
Deutz Conference Room

This year the Science Studies Program at UC San Diego is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. However programmatically designated--for example, Science Studies, Science and Technology Studies, History and Philosophy of Science--we would like to use this occasion to encourage reflection on the history and future direction of the ongoing interdisciplinary experiment that continues to play out under such institutional letterheads. The approach pioneered by this program and others like it has treated scientific developments and controversies as inseparable from various kinds of contexts--ideological, institutional, social, religious and political. One of the most challenging aspects of the Strong Program in the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge of the 1970s was its implication that its insights would be applicable reflexively to itself. While the epistemological implications of reflexivity were the subject of intense theoretical controversy during that period, Science Studies scholars got on with their empirical work, producing a wealth of historical insight into the development of such episodes as the cultural and political context of Vienna Circle positivism; the impact of Boris Hessen’s Marxist reading of Newton’s problematic at the 1931 International Congress of the History of Science and beyond; the political and cultural concerns of the World War II period that animated Robert Merton’s formulation of the “norms of science”; the Cold War framework of Thomas Kuhn and Alexandre Koyré’s demarxification of revolutions in science. We wish to encourage further reflection on topics of this sort in order to extend discussions to current developments in the post-Cold War period, the rise of neoliberalism, and the post-9/11 security state.

-- Robert S. Westman, Program Director