Conference theme

Making and doing transformations

There is no such thing as ‘Dutch STS’ and these are some lines about it

This joint meeting returns to Amsterdam after 36 years. The 1988 meeting was hosted by the Science Dynamics department at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and included some 400 contributions, for which all abstracts were submitted by regular mail.

Throughout the decades STS scholars in the Netherlands have continued to contribute to conversations in the field. As far as Amsterdam goes, the Athena Institute at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Science Dynamics department at the UvA were both founded in 1982. Nationally, this was the time where STS departments were gaining prominence at the universities of Amsterdam and Twente, soon to be followed by the universities of Eindhoven, Groningen, Leiden, Utrecht, and Maastricht. In 1984 the National Office of Technology Assessment, the predecessor of the current Rathenau Institute, was founded, strengthening connections between the many ‘… & Society’ departments and S&T policy through approaches such as Constructive TA. Science Shops further dotted the Dutch STS landscape.

In 1987, before universities were expected to each set up their own graduate schools, the informal collaborations between Dutch STS groups resulted in establishing the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC – the acronym works in Dutch). Its core task is to provide PhD training, and it has long served to strengthen the ‘invisible college’ of Dutch-based (or Dutch-trained) STS scholars. WTMC was awarded the inaugural 4S Infrastructure Prize in 2016. To this date, it continues to strengthen ties between established and budding scholars in the field. Over the decades, the Dutch STS landscape has come to include strong groups at Radboud U Nijmegen, Erasmus U Rotterdam (host to the illustrious 2008 joint EASST-4S meeting), and various others. Some groups dissolved formally, only to return in rhizomatic form in a range of departments. Could ‘Dutch STS’ perhaps exist in its infrastructurally fostered diverse collectivity?


This 11th quadrennial joint conference of EASST and 4S is hosted by the Athena Institute at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). STS research at Athena aims to contribute to transformative change through involvements in addressing complex societal challenges and by studying and designing science-society interfaces.