Annual Meeting 2014: 20 and 21 November

The WTMC Annual Meeting 2014 will take place on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 November in Amsterdam.  Location: De Balie (address:  Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10, 1017 RR Amsterdam).


WTMC members have produced a rich and exciting programme for the 2014 annual meeting. The sessions explore a range of important issues, important not only to the development of the field of Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, but also of broader academic and societal relevance. During the two days at our new location in Amsterdam, we will hear about personalized medicine, climate change, migration, and about how and why universities should be ranked. For all of these topics, STIS scholars often play a dual role, with more or less success and more or less sense of contradiction. On the one hand, we want to describe, analyse and understand past, present and future phenomena related to science, technology and society. On the other, we often find ourselves – sometimes willingly, sometimes less so – called upon to intervene in these debates.

The two days will provide much food for thought in the form of presentations, but there will also be plenty of opportunity for discussion and debate. There will also be plenty of time for catching up with colleagues from around the country. The meeting is open not only to all members of WTMC, but also to others interested in similar issues. Thus, we are particularly happy to welcome Willem Schinkel and his colleagues from the Department of Sociology at Erasmus University who will be sharing their work with us.
Remember to bring copies of recent books, articles, posters to display.

Thursday 20 November 2014

11.30-12.30  Early lunch & coffee – set up book display
12.30-13.00  Welcome, introductions, update on WTMC policy issues (Sally Wyatt)

13.00-14.30  Responsible Research & Innovation – organised by Tsjalling Swierstra, Maastricht

14.30-15.00  Tea & coffee
15.00-16.30  Visualising Society: Monitoring Practices in Migration Policy and Climate Science organised by Jess Bier, Erasmus University Rotterdam

16.30-17.00  Tea & coffee
17.00-18.30  STS & Climate Change – organised by Eleftheria Vasileiadou & Johanna Höffken, TUE

18.30-20.00  Drinks & Dinner
20.00—-        Surprise activity with prizes (and drinks)

Friday 21 November 2014

9.00-9.30      Coffee
9.30-11.00    Measuring science with meaningful metrics – organised by Koen Frenken, Utrecht & Paul Wouters, Leiden
11.00-11.30   Tea & coffee
11.30-13.00   The excellent university? – organized by Willem Halffman, Radboud University Nijmegen

13.00-14.00   Lunch
14.00-15.30   Reconfiguring individuals and social bonds in personalised medicine – organised by Marianne Boenink, TUE

15.30-16.00   Closing remarks by Sally Wyatt
16.00—          Farewell drinks


Details of sessions

13.00-14.30 Responsible Research and Innovation (organized by Tsjalling Swierstra, Maastricht University)

In the space of just a few years the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), or in Dutch Maatschappelijk verantwoord innoveren (MVI), has gained considerable ground: NWO has an MVI-program that has so far funded three rounds of research proposals; Horizon 2020 regularly refers to RRI; and there is now a new journal devoted to RRI. In this panel we focus on the following questions:

• How could the concept become so popular in such a relatively short time?
• What, if anything, is new in RRI, when we compare it to e.g. CTA, participatory TA, Public Engagement, etc?
• If we want to make research and innovation more responsible and responsive to society’s needs, what are the opportunities and obstacles?
• What are the conditions for successful mainstreaming of RRI?
Panel members Frank Kupper (Athena Institute) Hub Zwart (Centre for Society and the Life Scences), Michiel van Oudheusden (author of a dissertation on Flemish RRI initiatives), and Tsjalling Swierstra (co-founder of the Journal for RI) will share their thoughts with colleagues in the audience.

15.00-16.30 Visualising society. Monitoring practices in migration policy and climate science (organised by Jess Bier, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

This session focuses on the sociological study of institutions that contribute to forms of social imagination. Social imagination consists of representations (in the form of definitions, attributions, pictures, statistics, charts, graphs, etc.) that claim to describe (parts of) ‘society’. In recent decades, such institutions (from regulatory bodies to auditing institutions and regimes of supervision, from monitoring agencies to surveillance apparatuses) have proliferated. The underlying idea of this session is that a lot can be learned about social life when the institutions it brings forth to observe that social life are observed sociologically. Cases are drawn from the monitoring of migrants and migration processes, and the monitoring of climate change. One paper deals with the ways the EU attempts to monitor ‘irregular migration’. Another paper discusses the ways European nation-states such as the Netherlands and Germany attempt to visualize the degree of ‘integration’ of immigrants. And a third paper zooms in on the work of comparison that renders the monitoring of climate change possible.
Following a brief introduction to the session by Willem Schinkel, there will be four presentations followed by general discussion. The four presentations are:
1. Sanne Boersma: “Visualizing society: Immigrant Integration Expertise as a Sphere of Calculability”
2. Maja Hertoghs: “Shaping National Borders and Imagining National Belonging through the Professional Practices of Asylum”
3. Rogier van Reekum: “Varieties of Visual Europe in Images of Illegalized Mobility”
4. Willem Schinkel: “Doing Comparison in Paleoclimate Science”

17.00-18.30 STS and climate change (organized by Eleftheria Vasileiadou & Johanna Höffken, Technical University of Eindhoven)

There are two main ways in which STS has been engaging with climate change. The first is through reflection and analysis of technologies advocated as solutions for climate change, from solar and wind, to geoengineering. The second, less developed theme, relates to the construction of climate science itself, through looking at micro-practices of climate scientists or macro-analyses of the developments in climate science in a more exploratory way or in a more critical way. The aim of this panel is to present one example of each of the two lines, but also to raise questions for discussion, especially to what extent the STS community is willing to engage critically with climate science or technology, and why that would be the case. For instance research policy dictates, according to which usability, valorisation and even co-funding from industry and policy limit the extent to which we voice such critical reflections. In addition, we may be careful of not falling into the polarised debate of ‘science wars’, feeding into climate scepticism.

9.30-11.00 Measuring Science with Meaningful Metrics (organised by Koen Frenken (UU) & Paul Wouters (UL))

This session aims to further the discussion about the use of bibliometrics in evaluative practices. Following the Science-in-Transition and other debates, the use of bibliometrics to assess and evaluate research, researchers and the institutions they work for is highly contested. On the one hand there is an increasing number of critics per se. On the other hand, there are calls for broadening bibliometrics to measure not only scientific output and impact, but also societal output and impact. This session brings together researchers working in this area from Utrecht University, Leiden University and the Rathenau Institute.

The session will include the following presentations:
• Ingeborg Meijer (UL): on societal impact and the new SEP research assessment protocol in The Netherlands
• Edwin Horlings (Rathenau): on inter- and trans-disciplinarity
• Sarah de Rijcke (UL) and Paul Wouters (UL): on authorship in transition
• Koen Frenken and Gaston Heimeriks (UU): on the determinants of the CWTS university rankings

11.30-13.00 The excellent university? (organised by Willem Halffman, RU Nijmegen)

In the current debate over the state of the university, academic policy makers seem to aim for a Dutch ‘top university’: an institution of academic excellence that can compete with the world top. At least one or two Dutch universities should climb out of their position in the sub-top of the international rankings. However, the dream of the Dutch ‘top university’ is by no means unproblematic. Firstly, the idea of measuring universities on rankings if highly contested. Are these rankings valid? Is it even meaningful to measure all universities on one ranking? Secondly, it is not clear how policy makers could intervene to create a Dutch elite institution. How much would this cost? Would this mean a radical redistribution of funding between academic institutions? Thirdly, even the desirability of academic elite institutions is contested. Will they facilitate the reproduction of social elites? What would elite institutions mean for the working conditions of the non-elite?
Several Dutch scholars and WTMC members are involved in this debate. International excellence is one of the scenarios for the future of the Dutch university developed by the Rathenau Institute. Barend van der Meulen recently suggested how a top university could be constructed in an opinion piece in the Volkskrant. In their reply, Roland Bal and Willem Halffman argued that a Dutch top university is not desirable. Meanwhile, the Leiden STS group produces one of the ranking metrics by which the achievement of top-status could be measured (see previous session). Several of these people and others will discuss these issues. Confirmed participants include: Willem Halffman, Barend van der Meulen, Paul Wouters and Sally Wyatt.

14.00-15.30 Reconfiguring individuals and social bonds in personalized medicine (organized by Marianne Boenink, Department of Philosophy, University of Twente)

Barbara Prainsack, Professor of Sociology at King’s College, is a visiting professor at the 3TU Centre for Ethics & Technology in November. She has done much interesting work on citizen science, personalized medicine, and the participation of lay people in research. She will give a presentation of 30 minutes, followed by two commentaries by WTMC members.

‘The We in the Me: Individualism and Solidarity in Personalised Medicine’, Barbara Prainsack
The notion of the autonomous individual has been one of the core structuring principles of social and political space in the Western world. It underpins Western understandings of rights and freedoms, where the individual is the central bearer of rights and duties. Related to this is the assumption that we can separate clearly between self-interest and care for others.
Both assumptions, however, are problematic. They have led to a situation in which ethical and legal instruments in the domain of medicine capture the needs and stakes of people only partially. Moving away from the concept of persons as self-interested atomistic individuals avoids the idea that personalisation in medicine is synonymous with a kind of individualisation that inevitably destroys social bonds and solidarity. Although the latter can be the outcome, if collective actors use personalisation as a way to devolve onerous responsibilities to individuals, this is not inevitable. This paper will present three ways in which we can work towards a kind of personalisation that is socially responsible and sensitive to the needs of patients.

‘Personalized’ medicine is not ‘individualized’, comment by Simone van der Burg, RadboudUMC
This response shows, like Barbara Prainsack’s presentation, how an ethics of individual autonomy fits badly with current developments in health care. It will do so, however, by referring to a very different field: the area of newborn screening. Newborn screening programs are usually justified by referring to the criteria formulated by Wilson and Jungner in 1968, in which the autonomy of the individual plays a central role. However, since 1968 new technologies have been introduced into these programs that sit uneasily with the focus on individual autonomy. As a result, laboratory professionals experience a dilemma when they produce findings that do not fit the newborn screening program. What they think they should do fits better into an ethics of care based on trust, connectedness and responsibility, rather than protection of individual autonomous choice. I will argue that this ‘care-perspective’ is worth exploring as an addition, or an alternative, to the Wilson and Jungner criteria.

Personalized medicine as a ‘societal experiment’, comment by Dirk Stemerding, Rathenau Instituut
Personalized medicine strongly depends on collaborative practices of research in which patients become more and more involved in large-scale societal experiments. The validation of knowledge that should inform (future) practices of personalized medicine, requires extensive collection and massive sharing of individual patient data in rapidly expanding networks of biobanks. The involvement of an increasing number of patients as donors of health data has raised intense debate about issues of informed consent and the rights of individual patients to the information stored and studied in biobanks. In this debate, the rights of patients are predominantly framed in terms of individual choice and ‘exit’. In my response I will argue that in an era of ‘personalized’ medicine there is a growing need to involve patients, or indeed citizens, in the organization and governance of biobank research as a societal experiment, thus allowing them a ‘voice’ in a collective process of learning about the management and use of large-scale data collections.



Annual Meeting 2014- 20 and 21 November

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