WTMC PhD Summer School ‘Epistemic Corruption’ 23-27 August 2021 (online)

From Monday 23 to Friday 27 August 2021 WTMC will organize a PhD Summer School (online) with anchor teacher Sergio Sismondo.

Knowledge production is associated with particular values and standards (truth, objectivity, impartiality, etc), and failure to conform to these are often prominently condemned as corruption of the scientific endeavour. ‘Corruption’ is used in a number of different senses, always pejoratively. The term is typically connected to accusations that actions, practices or institutions have become rotten or infected, failing to meet particular ideals or failing to perfectly reproduce past standards. In this summer school, we will examine epistemic corruption as closely related to issues of social order, especially social order within knowledge-producing communities, but also social order in knowledge-consuming communities. As such, epistemic corruption is not necessarily bound up with the moral failings of individual actors: People tend to think of corruption in moral terms, and as a result would think of epistemic corruption as involving immoral influences on the production of compromised knowledge.

True to STS sensibilities, we will, unlike the vast majority of research on corruption in most disciplines, recognize that actors do not necessarily agree on what constitutes corruption or which practices are cases of it. Therefore, we will balance between actors’ (emic or etic) and analysts’ (etic) understandings of corruption – recognizing that they do not always explicitly use the term ‘corruption’ – and balance between normative and non-normative understandings. This exploration of epistemic corruption will feed a reflection on how aspirations and failings of knowledge production are constituted.

The WTMC Summer School is aimed at PhD candidates who are in the first phase of preparing their doctoral dissertations. The Summer School will offer many interesting insights in terms of both methodology and content. We are delighted that Sergio Sismondo will act as anchor teacher in this Summer School.

Sergio Sismondo does research in Science and Technology Studies at intersections of philosophy and sociology of science. Recently he has been studying the nature and distribution of pharmaceutical research, seeing this as a project in the political economy of knowledge. In addition to many articles, he is the author of Ghost-Managed Medicine: Big Pharma’s Invisible Hands (Mattering, 2018), An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies (2nd edition Wiley-Blackwell, 2010),  and co-author with physicist Boris Castel of The Art of Science (Broadview, 2003). Sismondo is currently editor of the journal Social Studies of Science, one of the flagship journals in Science and Technology Studies.

Guest lecturers at this Summer School:

Susan Greenhalgh, Harvard University

Willem Halffman, Radboud University

Marie-Andrée Jacob, University of Leeds

Daryn Lehoux, Queen’s University

Buhm Soon Park, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Harvard University


Preparation for the Summer School is estimated at 80 hours in total. The Summer School is credited with 5 ECTS. Full participation in all parts of the programme is required.

If you have any content-related questions regarding this workshop, please feel free to contact the training coordinators Anne Beaulieu: j.a.beaulieu@rug.nl or Andreas Weber: a.weber@utwente.nl

For practical questions please contact Elize Schiweck: e.schiweck@utwente.nl

Registration for this PhD Summer School has been closed. 

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