London PUS Goes Online

Due to the COVID-19 social distancing rules, the next London PUS Seminar will be taking place on Zoom on Wednesday 27 May 2020 at 4.00pm, when Dominic Berry from LSE’s Narrative Science project will be giving a talk titled “Understanding Biological Engineering through genre: a historical study of New Scientist”

Further details and an abstract are below.

While this is an experimental (and hopefully temporary) move online, we hope that colleagues who cannot normally attend our seminars will be able to take this opportunity to join us. To ensure we don’t overwhelm the technology however, we would be grateful if you could register your attendance here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/london-pus-seminar-understanding-biological-engineering-through-genre-a-historical-study-of-new-tickets-105934661424

A link to the Zoom call and further joining instructions will be sent to those registered next week.

We hope to see you online!

Best wishes

Martin Bauer, Jane Gregory, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

London PUS Seminar, 4pm 27 May 2020. Zoom.

Dominic Berry, LSE

Understanding Biological Engineering through genre: a historical study of New Scientist

This presentation offers a new starting point for understanding the history and development of biological engineering, one that tackles its public life directly. We are confronted with numerous images of biological engineering in popular science writing, journalism, and fiction. My perspective integrates the history and public understanding of science with methods and means of analysis taken from genre theory. The end result is the construction of a new landscape of biological engineering, one which is more ready at hand, which can be used to tackle cliché, identify missed opportunities for discussion, and deflate sensationalism without sidestepping politics. My integration is inspired by the ongoing Narrative Science project, which draws together literary scholarship and narratology with the history and philosophy of science, in order to analyse the ways in which narrative – as a way of arriving at new knowledge – has been and continues to be an important feature of scientific research life. 

Biography:

Dr Dominic Berry is Research Fellow on the Narrative Science project, an ERC funded project based at the LSE and lead by Prof. Mary S. Morgan. More about the project, its activities, working papers, and range of resources, can be found on the project site:https://www.narrative-science.org/ In 2019 Dominic won a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, which he used to fund a two-day international workshop on integrative potentials between literary scholarship, the environmental humanities, and the history of science and technology. He is interested in the public understanding of science and the purposes and uses of history therein, in particular because his chosen research subject (biological engineering) has particularly rich and numerous valences for a variety of publics. In 2019, together with Dr. Janella Baxter and Dr. Rob Smith, he founded a new international network for historians, philosophers, and social scientists studying intersections of biology with technology and engineering. More about the Biological Engineering Collaboratory can be found at: https://www.bioengcoll.org/

A scientist walks into a bar: science comedy and the professionalization of the science communicator

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to inform you that the next London PUS seminar will take place on 4.15pm on Wed 5 June in rooms QUE 3.28 and 3.29 at LSE (map here)  when Edd Bankes from UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies will talk on the topic of ‘A scientist walks into a bar: science comedy and the professionalisation of the science communicator’.  Further details and an abstract are below.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place.  We hope to see you on 5 June.

Best wishes

Martin Bauer, Jane Gregory, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

 

London PUS Seminar 4.15pm Wednesday 5th June 2019

Edd Bankes, Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL.

A scientist walks into a bar: science comedy and the professionalization of the science communicator

In recent years, science comedy has been tentatively positioned by science communication practitioners and academics as a novel way for engaging new audiences and understanding science-society relations. Yet while comedy has been critiqued as a poor vehicle for science communication when taken as a project of building new audiences, a more potent use has been identified, as a means for training science communicators and inculcating them into the professional demands of the field. As a form of training, comedy performance and the development of networks between performers offers a way for neophytes to gain the skills needed within the field and learn how to become a professional science communicator. But what does it mean to become a science communicator?

Drawing from ethnographic work with a science communication training scheme in London centred around comedy performance, this talk explores the heterogenous practices, identities and understandings of science and science communication that structured and were structured the process whereby participants learnt what it meant to be a science communicator. Employing a Communities of Practice and Figured Worlds approach, the talk will argue that where collaborative practice through comedy allowed participant to build a strongly bound community, understandings of the purpose of science communication and the identity of the good science communicator were primarily defined through the demands placed on cohort members to participate in the community. Rather than employing generic notions of ‘science’ or the ‘public’ to mediate these imaginaries, a good science communicator was primarily understood as a good member of the cohort. The talk will conclude by considering the transferability of these imaginaries, locating the scheme within the broader field of science communication to consider how far this training allowed participants to become a ‘professional’.

How do citizens build their thoughts related to scientific issues in contemporary life?

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to inform you that the next London PUS seminar of 2019 will take place on Wednesday 1 May 2019, 4.15pm in room NAB.2.08 at LSE. Please note, this is not the usual room but in the building just next to QUE where we usually meet (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx).  Our speaker this month will be Prof Carolina Moreno-Castro from the University of Valencia, talking on the topic of “How do citizens build their thoughts related to scientific issues in contemporary life?”. Further details and an abstract are below.

The subsequent seminar of this term will be at 4.15pm on Wed 5 June (QUE 3.28 and 3.29) when Edd Bankes from UCL whose talk will be titled ‘A scientist walks into a bar: science comedy and the professionalisation of the science communicator’.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place.  We hope to see you on 1st May or 5 June.

Best wishes

Martin Bauer, Jane Gregory, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

 

London PUS Seminar

Wednesday 1 May 2019, 4.15pm, NAB.2.08 LSE

Title: How do citizens build their thoughts related to scientific issues in contemporary life?

 

Carolina Moreno-Castro

Full Professor of Science Journalism

University of Valencia

 

Abstract: A consortium of five countries is working on the CONCISE project (Communication role on perception and beliefs of EU citizens about science), in order to try answering the title question. The main objective of CONCISE is to gain insights into the origins of the ideas, attitudes and knowledge of European citizens regarding science-related issues. What channels do they use to keep abreast of the news? And what or who influences their attitudes towards a specific scientific topic such as GMO, climate change, vaccines, or CAM? For this, five citizen consultations will be held in Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

Bio: Carolina Moreno-Castro is a Full Professor of Journalism and member of the Research Institute on Social Welfare Policy (POLIBIENESTAR) at the University of Valencia. She has been leading the research team ScienceFlows (www.scienceflows.com), for ten years, and is currently coordinating two European projects (CONCISE and PERSIST_EU).

“The Stanford Prison Experiment: anatomy of a successful fraud” 27 February 2019

The next London PUS seminar will take place on Wednesday 27th February 2019, 4.15pm in room QUE328 at LSE (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx), when we have social researcher Thibault Le Texier talking about  “The Stanford Prison Experiment: anatomy of a successful fraud”.  Further details and an abstract are below.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place.  We hope to see you on 27th February.

Best wishes

Martin Bauer, Jane Gregory, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

 

 

London PUS Seminar

Wednesday 27th February 2019, 4.15pm. Room QUE328 at LSE

Thibault Le Texier: The Stanford Prison Experiment: anatomy of a successful fraud

Abstract:

Conducted by Philip ZImbardo in 1971, the Stanford Prison Experiment has immediately grasped a large public attention. Since then, the SPE has become part of American pop culture: it has been featured in dozens of TV reports, it has inspired three feature-length fiction films, and it was given a new lease of life when Zimbardo became expert witness for one of the guards involved in the Abou Ghraib abuses. Yet, a thorough investigation in the newly released archives of the experiment proves that the SPE is a fraud; this investigation also shows Zimbardo’s unremitting efforts to publicize his fixed findings.

Biog:

Thibault Le Texier is researcher in social sciences. He has just published a book debunking the SPE (Histoire d’un mensonge : enquête sur l’expérience de Stanford, La Découverte, 2018). His previous book dealt with the history of management thought.

 

Science Capital: 30th January 2019

The first London PUS seminar of 2019 will take place on Wednesday 30th January 2019, 4.15pm in room QUE328 at LSE (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx), when we have Professor Louise Archer from UCL Institute of Education, talking about Science capital: A social justice approach to understanding and improving science participation”.  Further details and an abstract are below.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place.  We hope to see you on 30th January.

Best wishes

Martin Bauer, Jane Gregory, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

 

London PUS Seminar

Louise Archer

Wednesday 30th January 2019, 4.15pm. Room QUE328 at LSE

Professor Louise Archer

Science capital: A social justice approach to understanding and improving science participation

 

ABSTRACT

Increasing and diversifying participation in science is an issue of international concern. In this talk, I discuss research conducted across two large national projects: the ASPIRES ten year study of young people’s science and career aspirations, age 10-18 and the Enterprising Science project, exploring science engagement among under-served young people age 11-16. The concept of science capital is introduced and explained, outlining its explanatory potential for understanding differential STEM participation and how it might also help improve participation, through implementation of the science capital teaching approach.

 

Bio: Louise Archer is the Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education at UCL Institute of Education. She is the PI of the ASPIRES and ASPIRES2 projects and was director of the UCL/KCL Enterprising science project.

 

The End – Seminar, 28th November 2018

The next London PUS seminar will take place on Wed 28 November 2018 at 4.15pm in room QUE328 at LSE (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx), when Hauke Riesch from Brunel University will give a talk titled “The End: Science, Risk and Prophecy”.  Further details and an abstract are below.

We will also be hosting a subsequent seminar on 12th December 2018, when we have George Gaskell,  Emeritus Professor of Social Psychology and Research Methodology at LSE, talking about “Gene Editing: How we arrived at where we are.” Further details to follow.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place.  We hope to see you on 28 November.

 

Best wishes

Martin Bauer, Jane Gregory, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

 

The End: Science, Risk and Prophecy

01-rieschHauke Riesch

Brunel University London

Hauke.riesch@brunel.ac.uk

The sense that the world is in a period of crisis is often exemplified through apocalyptic narratives on a variety of flashpoints: climate change, environmental degradation, political and economic collapse, increased international tensions, the rise of populist and nativist politics in the US, Europe, Russia and elsewhere, renewed threats of nuclear war, and international terrorism.

However, apocalyptic and millennial narratives that expect an imminent end have a long tradition in Western culture, and the world has, of course, not ended yet. The talk will trace and map the narrative connections between the traditional religious accounts of apocalypse and how the current world-wide crises are talked about, with specific emphasis on technologically mediated potential catastrophes: environmental crisis, nuclear annihilation and climate change. Millennial narratives include not only dire warnings about a catastrophic future, but also offer chances of redemption and hopes of a possible better world.

I argue that combining perspectives from millennial studies with a Science and Technology Studies based analysis can bring new insights into how environmental apocalypses can be understood and ultimately communicated. Discussing examples from UK and German environmental literature, I argue that we can construct our fears of current environmental catastrophe as a (late) modern apocalyptic narrative, and discuss the implications of the apocalyptic account of our ecological future on efforts to mitigate against it.

I argue that we can understand wider social reactions to the current set of crises by looking at the narrative traditions through which we impart a wider meaning on an essentially secular and nihilistic set of catastrophes.

Hauke Riesch is a lecturer in sociology at Brunel University London, with a background first in the philosophy of science and then science and technology studies. He has been working mainly on the public understanding of science and risk, with an emphasis on environmental risks, citizen science, science blogging and science comedy. Currently his research interests are on apocalyptic narratives in environmental discourse.

 

About TIME: reading science journalism in 20th century mass market newsmagazines.

The last London PUS Seminar of the 2017/18 academic year will be taking place on Wednesday 20 June 2018 at 4.15pm in Room QUE328 at LSE (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx). Dr Mathew Paskins, LSE, will give a talk titled “About TIME: reading science journalism in 20th century mass market newsmagazines.”. Further details and an abstract are below.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place. We hope to see you on 20 June.

 Best wishes

Jane Gregory, Martin Bauer, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

London PUS Seminar

4.15pm Wednesday 20th June 2018, Room QUE328, LSE

Dr Matthew Paskins, LSE

About TIME: reading science journalism in 20th century mass market newsmagazines.

paskins

Between its first issue in 1923 and the end of the twentieth century, TIME magazine devoted some nine million words to coverage of science, technology, and medicine. What happens if we try to read them now? It turns out that some of the frameworks through which we conventionally think about science journalism in the twentieth century are severely tested by the particularities of past scientific coverage, in the form of episodes and details from the past ranging from the worldwide outbreak of parrot fever to Henry Ford’s puzzling chemical endeavours. Because the historical archive of popular science is not quite what we imagine it to be, we can use it to think critically about some aspects of public understanding of science in the present. This talk spells out some of ways of doing that, drawing on close readings of particular stories and corpus analysis techniques of thousands of others. It also compares TIME’s distinctive styles of science journalism with those of some of its obvious and less obvious competitors.

Scientists, tools and religious rites.

the next London PUS Seminar will be taking place on Wednesday 30 May 2018 at 4.15pm in Room QUE328 at LSE (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx) when Dr. Renny Thomas, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, India and Charles Wallace Fellow in Social Anthropology, School of  History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast, will be talking on the topic of “Scientists, Tools and Religious Rites: An Anthropology of Ayudha Puja”. Further details and an abstract is below.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place. We hope to see you on 30 May.

 

Best wishes

Jane Gregory, Martin Bauer, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

 

 

London PUS Seminar

4.15pm Wednesday 30th May 2018

Room QUE328, LSE

Dr Renny Thomas

Scientists, Tools and Religious Rites: An Anthropology of Ayudha Puja

This talk attempts to understand questions in technology, science and rituals, with special reference to Ayudha Puja, a popular Hindu festival in the southern part of India. Ayudha Puja means “rite of the implements” or, more often, “worship of the machines,” and provides an opportunity for believers to honour the machines/tools that make their lives possible and to come together as a community in their workplace/home. The presentation will look at how Ayudha Puja was celebrated and the meaning(s) attached to it by its practitioners. Ayudha Puja reveals how Hindu scientists interpret their religious heritage and shape their scientific communities through traditional practices. It reveals how contemporary Indian scientists often attempt to maintain lines that demarcate science from religion and professional spheres from domestic, yet also how the lines between them are permeable and the categories often overlap to the point of being sometimes coextensive. The talk will discuss in detail how scientists normalizes Hindu practices such as Ayudha Puja within scientific cultures by describing the festival as “cultural” rather than “religious”.

 

Bio: Dr. Renny Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, India, and currently a Charles Wallace Fellow in Social Anthropology, School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. He is also a recipient of American Academy of Religion’s Collaborative International Research Grant (2015-2016), New York, USA. His recent publications include, “Beyond Conflict and Complementarity: Science and Religion in Contemporary India.” Science, Technology and Society (Sage) 23 (1): 47-64 (2018), “Religious Rites and Scientific Communities: Ayudha Puja as ‘Culture’ at the Indian Institute of Science.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science (Wiley) 53 (1): 95-122 (with Robert M Geraci, 2018), “Atheism and Unbelief among Indian Scientists: Towards an Anthropology of Atheism(s).” Society and Culture in South Asia (Sage) 3(1): 45-67 (2017).

 

 

Assessing Public Attitudes to Science Around the World – London PUS Seminar 25th April 2018

We are pleased to inform you that the next London PUS Seminar will be taking place on Wednesday 25 April 2018 at 4.15pm in Room QUE328 at LSE (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx) when Pat Sturgis (University of Southampton), Ethan Greenwood & Hilary Leevers (Wellcome Trust) will be talking on the topic of “Assessing Public Attitudes to Science Around the World: The Wellcome Global Monitor”. Further details and an abstract is below.

As usual, all are welcome and there is no need to book a place. We hope to see you on 25 April.

Jane Gregory, Martin Bauer, Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman

 

London PUS Seminar, 4.15pm Wednesday 25th April 2018, Room QUE328, LSE Assessing Public Attitudes to Science Around the World: The Wellcome Global Monitor.  Pat Sturgis (University of Southampton), Ethan Greenwood & Hilary Leevers (Wellcome Trust).

Abstract

Survey research has revealed much about the contours and dynamics of public opinion about science and technology. However, this body of evidence has been concentrated almost entirely within a quite narrow range of Western democracies. In 2018, the Wellcome Trust is launching a new comparative survey of public attitudes toward and trust in science and scientific institutions. The Wellcome Trust Global Monitor will cover 140 countries using a harmonised methodology to maximise comparability of the data across countries. In this talk, we will set out the objectives of the survey, describe its key design features, discuss some of the conceptual and methodological challenges of the research, as well as initial approaches to analysis and reporting.

Patrick Sturgis is Professor in the Department of Social Statistics and Demography at the University of Southampton and Director of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods. Since 2009 he has served as academic advisor to the Wellcome Trust on its programme of work addressing public attitudes to and engagement with biomedical science.

Ethan Greenwood is a Senior Analyst and Project Manager at Wellcome within the Insight and Analysis team. He is mainly responsible for managing the UK and Global Monitor. His background is in social research with an MA from Westminster University in Applied Social and Market Research.

German Science Barometer – 31 January 2018

The first London PUS Seminar of 2018 took place on Wednesday 31 January 2018 at 4.15pm in Room QUE328 at LSE (map here http://www.lse.ac.uk/mapsAndDirections/home.aspx) when Markus Weisskopf and Ricarda Ziegler from Wissenshaft im Dialog in Germany presented the findings of the recent German ‘Science Barometer’ survey of public attitudes.

csm_17_wissbarometer_Foto_K.Machill_ac059a2d35

Read more about the survey and findings.