I sometimes wonder how the activities of this department are perceived by the rest of the medical faculty? — a thought triggered by the abstract of Robert Doubleday‘s talk (to be held tomorrow at noon, alas in Cambridge!) on “STS in action: reflections on collaborating with nanoscientists”. I’m particularly thinking of what he says about scientists that view the STS field as a ‘potential reflectivity engine’ for enhancing the ‘public responsibility of science’:

I will talk about the experience of working at the NanoScience Centre in Cambridge on the social dimensions of nanotechnology. In this lab, and elsewhere, STS is looked to as a potential reflexivity engine within the nanoscience research enterprise. The often unspoken goal of science policy is to “avoid the fate of GM”. I will reflect on my experience and discuss the possibilities and limitations of this form of collaboration. I will focus on the ways that public engagement with science has been framed as an necessary element of the “responsible development of nanotechnology”. With reference to specific examples I will talk about how scientists have been encountering “the public” and how the civic responsibilities of scientists are enacted. I will then point to the importance of developing an understanding of contemporary configurations of laboratory practice in relations to ideas of a changing “republic of science”.

I like that phrase — ‘a potential reflectivity engine’.

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