2013 ISSTI Retreat
Welcome and Introductions
Professor Robin Williams
Institute for the Study of Science,
Technology and Innovation
• Welcome
• Role of ISSTI retreat
• Brief history of ISSTI/Science,
Technology & Innovation Studies
@ Edinburgh
• Introductions
• Housekeeping announcements?
• Where we are going? – issues to
think about for closing discussion
Role of ISSTI retreat
• Opportunity to recharge our batteries
• Chance for interaction and reflection in an
intellectually safe and playful space
• Find out more about each others’ work
 overcome tendency to fragment around differing
substantive focus/analytical traditions
• Identify the hot ideas - analytical challenges
and emerging debates
• Day 1: Evaluation theme (also PhD session)
• Explore commonalities and synergies –
theoretical, methodological, substantive
Day 2: Encounters and Interactions
• Hope other linkages - serendipitous as well as
planned - will emerge in course of retreat
A Brief History of Science,
Technology and Innovation
Studies @ Edinburgh
Science Studies Unit
• 1964 Science Studies Unit established
by David Edge, with Barry Barnes and
David Bloor
• Strong programme in sociology of
scientific knowledge
“the Edinburgh School”
• Work on history and sociology of
science and medicine
Technology Studies Programme
• The social shaping of technology
(MacKenzie & Wajcman 1985
• 1986 Robin Williams: coordinator of
socio-economic research on technology,
Interdisciplinary programme hosted by
Research Centre for Social Sciences
• Centre under ESRC Programme on
Information & Communications
Technologies (1987-95)
• Extension to other areas:
energy/environment; life science etc
Formation of ISSTI
• ISSTI formed in 2000 to bring together
specialist research centres
 School of Social and Policy Studies
Research Centre for Social Sciences
Science Studies Unit
 Management School and Economics
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group ;
Japanese European Technology Studies
• To grow and sustain dynamic research
• To present a critical mass to external
audiences – academic, research funders,
external stakeholders
Subsequent consolidation
• 2008 colocation and then merger of
Science Studies Unit and RCSS to form
Science, Technology & and Innovation
Studies subject group
• Wider expansion of Science, Technology
& and Innovation Studies – proliferation
and growth of centres and groups
across the university – account for
about half our total strength
• Recent wave of new appointments
Interlocking programmes
• Interlocking research programmes across a
number of fields –
 Life Science –major ESRC investments Innogen and
Genomics Forum
 Information and Communication Technologies;:
Social Informatics Cluster; Digital Economy Network
 Energy & Environment;
 History of Science, Technology & Medicine etc.
 Other areas eg defence, nanotech, fire, finance
 Linked by cross-cutting concerns eg expertise, risk
governance, engagement, interdisciplinarity
• ISSTI becomes a network of networks –
cutting across discipline-based university
Distinctive position
distinctive tradition of work that is:
empirically rich;
theoretically innovative;
engaged with policy and practice; and,
highly interdisciplinary
• leading centre in Scotland for STI studies
• UK peers Sussex, Manchester, Lancaster?
EU/worldwide top 10?
• strong international reputation/collaborations,
collaboration agreements
 renewed with Chinese Academy of Science;
 signed with Sharif University of Technology, Iran,
 being developed with Seoul National University
Imperial College Business School
Subject Categories of citations
Sussex SPRU
Subject Categories of citations
Manchester MIoIR
Subject Categories of citations
Edinburgh ISSTI
Subject Categories of citations
Rao-Stirling Diversity
Disciplines of
Disciplines of References
Disciplines of Cites
Edinburgh ISSTI
Sussex SPRU
College Business
Warwick Business
Business School
Speedy Introductions
• Name, institutional affiliation,
(Can you also write this on a badge?)
• Tell us one thing about your
2013 ISSTI Retreat
Wind up:
ways forward for ISSTI?
Professor Robin Williams
Institute for the Study of Science,
Technology and Innovation
STS marches on?
• Continued development of concepts
 perfomativity; promissory work, anticipation
 application in new technoscientific fields
• STS concepts extended to understand
 Monitoring & policy formation/implementation
 How technologies of markets – and markets
for technology – are constructed
• Infrastructures – sociomateriality over
extended time & space
• Affordances of expertise
 How traditional and scientific knowledge
combined (or not)
Disciplinary configurations
• New foci of research activity - bring more
complex disciplinary configurations
 Law School - intellectual property, regulation
(Mason Institute; SCRIPT and CREATe)
 Edinburgh College of Art – design, architecture
 Increasing activity of Business School,
international development, Public Health
 Interdisciplinary research funding eg from EPSRC,
RAEng for ‘deep’ collaborations with science,
engineering and medicine
• New coordination challenges
• Epistemological challenges
 cannot presume central position for science and
technology studies perspectives
 Very rich intellectual context – STS has powerful tools
 Building our knowledge in tandem and for ourselves
Disciplinary configurations
One specific issue that we may debate this year:
• What is the relationship between science and
technology studies and innovation studies?
(and related work in area of science and
technology policy, technology management)
• Mutual benefit or mutual incomprehension ?
• Edinburgh unusually combines diverse
traditions here
• Discussing an international network with other
centres that share this broad orientation
Upcoming Grand Challenges?
• Big data, knowledge and
information infrastructures
Dynamics of e-science/open science
Data in biomedical research
New business and work models
Digital Social Research
• The Brain programme: The next
post-genomics edgy technoscience?
• ????
Organisation of ISSTI
ISSTI success as network of networks
•Deliberately lightweight, flexible
organisational form
•Linking together various different nodes to
identify mutual synergies - without undue
coordination costs
•Involve gatekeepers from each of these
nodes – to identify/exploit opportunities
•Newsletter, webpage, PhD students group
– other fora?
Thanks are due to:
• STIS for co-funding this event
• Anne Valentine and Geraldine
Debard for careful assistance in
sorting out all the arrangements
• Valeri for photography
• An excellent array of speakers and
panel organisers and especially
Trevor Pinch
and of course the pandas
A quick round of applause