Science and “the Public” (Fall 2019)

Sponsored by the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, in concert with the History and Philosophy of Science Ph.D. and GLOBES certificate programs, Gender Studies Program, Department of Philosophy, Science Policy Initiative, and Sustainability Studies.

Friday, November 8th and Saturday, November 9th, 2019 

Philosophers and historians of science, in our role as public educators, have the distinctive dual task  of presenting scientific material to students in the humanities and introducing meta-scientific theory  to students in the sciences. This carries with it a responsibility to not only be informed about the  institutional structure and methods of scientific practice, but also to foster interaction between  scientists and the greater public. Yet, we often lack sufficient formal training in a science and regular  experience of what it is like to be a practicing scientist. With this in mind, the graduate students of  the University of Notre Dame’s History and Philosophy of Science Ph.D. program, administered by  the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, will convene a two day conference for  the purposes of exploring questions concerning the relationship between science and ‘the public’,  broadly construed. 

How can historians and philosophers of science help to identify and remove obstacles in the way of  valuing, understanding, and engaging with scientific practice? How can we encourage scientists, also  members of the public, to invest in science policy, communication, and outreach? And how can we  enrich our own work by further grounding it in actual scientific practice? 

The conference will be structured around three components: (i) invited speakers; (ii) a limited  number of graduate student presentation sessions; (iii) a participatory professional development  workshop on tools for better engaging with scientific practice in one’s research and teaching, with a  special emphasis on incorporating fieldwork and promoting inclusivity through DIY science,  respectively. 

We invite graduate student submissions from humanists whose work relates to the sciences (e.g.,  history and/or philosophy of science, science and technology studies) as well as natural or social  scientists interested in science education. Interdisciplinary, theory, and practice oriented approaches  are welcome. Some appropriate topics of interest might include: institutional and epistemic trust in  science, communal doubt, expert vs. lay testimony, the role of social/political/feminist values in  science, models for citizen, democratic, or open science, the ethical responsibility of scientists, the  ethics of emerging technology, and the politics of science (e.g., funding, privatization, secret or  forbidden knowledge, etc.). 

Abstracts (500 words) suitable for a 20 minute presentation should be submitted through the  following link: The deadline for submission  is September 1, 2019. Confirmation of receipt of your submission will be provided; acceptance  decisions will be sent out in mid-September. For more information or questions about the  conference, please email