Call for Abstracts: Environments of Science

Abstracts due before end of day (EST) on February 27, 2017. Submission details below. 

Science, like all human endeavours, is a situated affair. Scientists approach their respective objects from within particular social, cultural, religious, economic, and institutional contexts. These environments of science shape science’s methods and direction, its goals and values. But the activity of science also leaves its mark on these environments, affecting everything from particular cultural climates to the global climate of planet Earth itself. The third annual Binocular Conference invites graduate students from diverse disciplines to consider this reciprocal relationship between science and its innumerable particular contexts from an equally diverse range of perspectives.

The Binocular Conference is jointly organized by the graduate students of York University’s Science and Technology Studies Department and the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. This year we invite proposals on the topic:

Environments of Science

We hope this topic will provoke applicants to consider not only how a variety of environments shape science, but how science shapes and engenders environments of its own.

Recognizing both the reality of the complexities of graduate work today and the interdisciplinary nature of the multiple fields of science study, our call for papers is intended to cover as much breadth as possible. As such, and depending on resources available, no graduate level proposal will be rejected by Binocular. We encourage our colleagues, both locally and further afield, to present on their research, keeping the central questions of either scientific environments or environments of science in mind. Topics we would therefore welcome include, but are by no means limited to:

History/Anthropology of Science: How do socio-cultural, political, economic, or natural environments shape scientific practices, values, or goals? How do scientific practices in situated temporalities or spatialities mould their natural or social contexts? How are societies or individuals affected by changing norms of institutional science or scientific knowledge? How is science related to private or public funding? How have either corporations or masculinist cultures of innovation and invention driven a particular type of science?

Philosophy of Science: Are there context-independent epistemological values in science? What demarcates science from pseudoscience? Is “science” a human activity distinct from the environments in which it arises? Is a general theory of scientific change possible? Do the nascent philosophies of Object Oriented Ontology and New Materialism contribute productively to already extant knowledge practices in Philosophy of Science? Are changing conceptualizations of the natural environment  (ie. the anthropocene, hyper-objects) co-constitutive with changing conceptions of science?

Applied Science/Technology: How does the quantified self demarcate and limit the environment of the body? Are maker cultures a revolutionary force for the good of the environment,  or another example of the fetishization of a previously working class activity? Do the masculine cultures of engineering co-constitute the built environment? What would a feminist infrastructure look like?

Reflexivity: It is also an opportunity to reflect upon the disciplinary contexts from which we study science: Do historians and philosophers differ in what they mean by “science”? Should they? How is science understood in STS and HPS? Do scientific institutions or knowledge claims shape our respective disciplines, and if so, how? How has our understandings of the development of the fields of STS and HPS changed over time?

Activism: How is science utilized to actively change the world? How do institutions use from scientific knowledge to justify their continuity or change? What constitutes a non-ethical use of scientific knowledge?

The Binocular Conference invites the submission of 250-word abstracts addressing any of the above themes by end of day (EST) on Monday, February 27th, 2017. Please send all abstracts (or any questions you may have) to