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Title:Science and Technology Studies (STS) in iSchools
Author(s):Van House, Nancy; Blanchette, Jean-François; Borgman, Christine L.; Lievrouw, Leah; Star, Susan Leigh; Weedman, Judy
Abstract:The interests of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and iSchools have converged in recent years. Building upon a successful five-session track on the influence of IS on STS at the recent Social Studies of Science Conference (October, 2007, Montreal), we propose a complementary session at the iConference that reflects on the influence of STS on IS. STS is an interdisciplinary field that studies technology, the mutual constitution of technology and social, and sociotechnical networks; the practice of science and the development of scientific knowledge (and, by extension, other kinds of knowledge and knowledge communities); and national and international science policy. STS generally takes a strongly constructionist, situated, social, and critical perspective on these topics. Both fields are concerned with the interaction among information and communication technologies (ICTs), knowledge, society, practice, the social, and public policy. And both are highly interdisciplinary: STS’ roots are in history, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology. STS is increasingly represented in iSchools. Many STS scholars are finding congenial homes on iSchool faculties. Many iSchool faculty and PhD students are doing research drawing on STS concepts and methods. STS courses are being offered in iSchools, and iSchool students are taking STS courses in other departments. These shared interests are apparent in the world of scholarly publishing and conferences. Many iSchool faculty and PhD students have presented at the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) annual conference in recent years. Some publications have looked at STS and IS, notably Van House’s 2003 ARIST chapter “Science and Technology Studies and Information Studies,” and, most recently, Boczkowski and Lievrouw’s “Bridging STS and Communication Studies: Scholarship on Media and Information Technologies” in the just-published third edition of the Handbook of Science, Technology and Society. Borgman’s new book, Scholarship in the Digital Age, draws heavily on both STS and IS theory and practice. Bowker and Star’s Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences have been highly influential in both fields, and Bowker’s Memory Practices in the Sciences won “best book” awards from both ASIST and 4S, while Star is the immediate past president of 4S. We are proposing a panel to examine this growing alliance. We will briefly explain to iSchool people who are unfamiliar with STS what it is and why it’s increasingly intertwined with iSchools. We will also propose to the panel a series of questions about the pros and cons of this alliance, and possible future directions for research and teaching. These questions may include: • In what areas of research and teaching can STS contribute to iSchools’ concerns? And vice versa? • Where are the ideological/discursive/theoretical overlaps and disjunctions between STS and iSchools? • What are STS methods how are they usefully included in iSchools? In research? In the curriculum? • Does STS have a place in the master’s curriculum? • How does STS help build alliances on campus?
Issue Date:2010-02-28
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-03-16

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