Making and doing transformations
STS scholars globally are warmly invited to curate conversations about how they relate to their topics of study, what experimental forms of normativity their work enacts and empirically explores, and how various engagements shape the positionality and reflexivity of STS scholars. Urgent challenges such as moving beyond our reliance on fossil fuels, fostering solidarities across migration statuses and diverse identities, and turning our workplaces into decolonial practice spaces, are increasingly becoming part of our scholarly and personal lives. Moreover, the sciences – broadly defined as in the European notion of Wissenschaften – are ascribed special roles in contributing to transformations that should help, mitigate climate change, improve food security, and tackle glocal (health) inequities. Governments and funding agencies ask that researchers specify how their work contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals while at the same time expecting them to contribute to the very forms of growth and innovation that generated these challenges in the first place.
Whereas STS scholars are generally not immune to the normative importance of addressing grand societal challenges, our detailed empirical analyses, focus on enactment and the world-making properties of scholarship, and scholarly appreciation for humility often results in contributions that refigure the problem space, at times through experiments with different practices, rather than meet pre-set solutions. Calls for scholarship that produces transformations thus revive questions regarding the roles, commitments, and approaches of STS with and for society: How can we, through our own involvement in scholarship that speaks to societal challenges, both frame transformations in STS terms and participate in making and doing them? How can we continue to bring our commitments into our scholarship while extending our repertoire for avoiding co-optation, scientism, and technosolutionism? How can we, for example, continue to highlight flows of learning between STS and its fields rather than slip into linear-model images like ‘impact’ or ‘revolutionary transformation’? In short, how can we become part of making and doing contributions to transformations through mobilizing STS sensibilities? Attending to emerging forms of knowledge production, expression, and travel, the conference theme aims to speak to many ongoing conversations in STS, broadly defined, ranging from speculative ethics in care to the governance of science and technology, and from decolonial scholarship to innovation studies work on transitions.
Contributions in formats that differ from the traditional paper presentation are particularly welcome. In addition to experimenting within panels, the STS Making & Doing program that has been part of 4S meetings since 2015 and of EASST-4S meetings since 2020 offers ample opportunities for contributions that mobilize other forms of knowledge production, expression, and travel. Given the diverse STS genealogies, approaches, and themes for discussion, we also welcome tracks, papers, and other contributions not related to the conference theme but relevant to the field.