The Department of Sociology and the Centre for Science Studies at Lancaster University hosted the 5th annual postgraduate science and technology studies (STS) conference from Monday 23rd to Wednesday 25th March 2015, gratefully funded by the ESRC North West DTC and the first iteration of the conference to be formally open to students outside of Lancaster.
This event brought together research students across the universities of Lancaster, Manchester and Liverpool from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, including Sociology, Educational Research, Management, History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Organisation, Work and Technology, Geography and Planning as well as the EPSRC-funded HighWire DTC. The conference also welcomed a number of academics from Sociology, Lancaster Medical School, Lancaster Environment Centre, Educational Research and the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (University of Manchester), ensuring a variety of insights from scholars working at the forefront of STS research.
The conference opened on the afternoon of Monday 23rd with a keynote lecture, this year delivered by Dr Jane Calvert, Reader in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Jane delivered a speech entitled ‘A place for STS? Experiences of collaborating with synthetic biologists’, concerning the role that STS might play in working alongside the emergent field of synthetic biology and the implications for collaboration in the future. This was followed by a discussion and we would like to thank Jane for the engaging presentation of her thoroughly interdisciplinary research.
The conference itself took place across the Tuesday and Wednesday, with 22 students working broadly within the field of STS presenting their research throughout a number of sessions. The conference operated a paper review process, which ensured that each presenter’s paper was reviewed not only by a fellow student but an established academic. The reviewers of each paper had an allocated amount of time after the respective presentation in which to provide an oral response to the questions posed by the paper. This system was well received by participants as it enabled insights into topics from students and academics who may well not typically be involved in their field of research, as well as comments and questions from other conference participants. The conference was drawn to a close on the Wednesday afternoon with a closing speech by Emeritus Professor Maureen McNeil, who offered an insightful discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing STS research in a contemporary context.
This conference was organised by research students Mette Kragh Furbo, Joann Wilkinson, Jess Phoenix, Peter Fuzesi and Jonathan Beacham in the Department of Sociology. We extend thanks once again to the North West DTC for funding this event, and hope it will serve to forge productive links between STS scholars within the North West and beyond.