PhD Summer School 24-28 August 2015: Politics of Science, Technology, and STS with anchor teacher Mark B. Brown

Mark Brown 2014 crop


From 24 to 28 August 2015, the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology and Society (WTMC) will offer its annual PhD Summer School. This year’s theme is Politics of Science, Technology, and STS, which will be addressed under the guidance of anchor teacher Mark Brown.

Questions of politics have long been a key part of Science and Technology Studies. Many STS scholars have studied the politics of research laboratories, technological systems, expert advisory committees, citizen panels, social movements, and many other institutions and practices. And many scholars see politics—or at least political relevance—in STS research itself. This Summer School will provide an opportunity for participants to consider what both actors and analysts actually mean by ‘politics’ in various contexts, and by related concepts like power, authority, justice, democracy, and so on. How do different conceptions of politics shape debates over climate change, genetic testing, and similar issues? How do they affect relations between and among experts and lay citizens? And what are the political implications, if any, of different theories and methods in STS research?

During the Summer School, an introduction to key concepts in political theory will be followed by discussion of specific issues both at the practical level of how scientific knowledge and academic practices are situated in democratic societies, and at the more normative and conceptual level of how methods, ontologies, and technical interventions may (or may not) be political. In addition, exercises are offered related to the theme of politics as well as to general academic skills.

Professor Mark B. Brown has long travelled back and forth between political theory and STS, drawing on each to enrich the other. He is a professor in the Department of Government at California State University, Sacramento, where he recently received an Outstanding Teaching Award. He teaches courses on modern and contemporary political theory, democratic theory, and the politics of science, technology, and the environment. He is the author of Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions, and Representation (MIT Press, 2009), and various other publications on the politics of expertise, citizen engagement, bioethics, climate change, and related topics. His article “Politicizing Science: Conceptions of Politics in Science and Technology Studies” was recently published in Social Studies of Science.

Confirmed guest lecturers include Klasien Horstman (Maastricht University), Sabine Roeser (Technical University of Delft), Willem Schinkel (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Kristin Asdal (University of Oslo), Irma van der Ploeg (Maastricht University and United Nations University), Huub Dijstelbloem (University of Amsterdam), and Willem Halffman (Radboud University Nijmegen).
The Summer School is aimed at PhD candidates who are in the first phase of writing their doctoral dissertation. Preparation for the Summer School is estimated at 80 hours in total. The Summer School is credited with 5 ECTS.

PhD students who are enrolled in the WTMC educational programme are only charged € 10 per day for meals. For external PhD students, a participation fee of € 1130 (€ 1060 for members of EASST) is charged, which includes lodging and meals.

The Summer School takes place in convent Soeterbeeck, Ravenstein (near Nijmegen) in The Netherlands.
If you have any practical questions related to the summer school, please contact Marjatta Kemppainen ( For content-related questions, contact the coordinators Govert Valkenburg: or Bernike Pasveer;
The registration form for this summer school is available online. Please register by 20 April 2015.