This Science and Society Grant in the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science supports renewal funds to permit the History of Science Society (HSS), the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) and the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) to provide travel awards to graduate students, independent scholars, and junior scholars with little or no access to funding to attend the professional meetings of the societies during the five-year period 2006-2010. Funding of this proposal will not only enhance the intellectual content and depth of science studies, it will also broaden the impact of the field. The intellectual benefits can be measured by surveying the conferences of each society over the past ten years, years in which NSF monies have been used to assist travel. Representation among graduate students and independent scholars in the programs has been significant, representing a generation of scholars who have been inducted into the profession. The intellectual benefits have flowed in at least two directions: society conferences have been richer and more diverse with participation by these scholars, and these scholars' research and careers, as they have testified, have been helped by this participation. Such professionalization is crucial since these younger scholars will be teaching at the major research universities, as well as liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and other schools, for many years to come. The impact of their teaching will not be limited to the United States. The NSF travel grants have been a major orce in facilitating international exchange, allowing scholars to travel overseas as they share their research. This not only allows for broad impact, it also enhances the intellectual quality of the meetings, allowing diverse viewpoints and interpretations of science. With increasing competition from abroad, it is important that HSS, SHOT, PSA, and 4S, and their largely US membership be able to share ideas and questions about science and its influence on society.

Project Report

The travel grants over the 5-year period of this award enabled over 660 graduate students, independent scholars, and junior scholars to attend professional meetings in the history, sociology, and philosophy of science and technology. These meetings, which are mostly organized by volunteers, are annual or biennial events of the History of Science Society, the Philosophy of Science Association, the Society for the History of Technology, and the Society for Social Studies of Science. Each society is a world leader in its area of expertise. The grants, most of them for modest amounts of a few hundred dollars or less, allowed individuals from a wide variety of institutions, many of which with limited resources, to attend the conferences, thus providing for a diverse mix of scholarship at the meetings. These conferences examined how science and technology work, and they demonstrated how a historical and philosophical understanding of science and technology provides us the best opportunity to use science and technology to improve the human condition. This context is especially important considering how scientific and technological innovations can spawn unintended consequences. By developing deeper insights into how science and technology work, we prepare ourselves for dealing with these unintended consequences. These conferences attracted scholars (historians, philosophers, scientists, sociologists, and others) from around the world and allowed the 4 societies to share research and scholarship on the international stage. Although all 4 groups are based in the US, a substantial percentage of non-US scholars attended the conferences. This international representation is important on two levels: we are able to share best practices in scholarship with our international colleagues but, more importantly, since science and technology are international practices, with possible global ramifications, it is particularly important, that we stay engaged with the world when trying to understand the impact of science. Therefore, the international nature of the conferences lends itself to broad impacts -- in universities, museums, government organizations, and other institutions -- and solidifies the intellectual merit of the conferences by allowing the broadest possible participation. As evidenced in the testimonials of the travel grant recipients, support from the NSF allowed recipients to meet others at the conferences, to share their ideas and research, and to continue this dialogue after the conferences’ conclusion. And although social media can facilitate interchanges, it cannot replace the unique quality of this type of interpersonal interaction. One such testimonial speaks to the qualities of the conferences: "This wonderful experience provided many benefits. First, the visit provided an opportunity to interact with peers and constructively discuss my ideas. Presently, I am taking advantage of the gracious feedback given as I pursue a more prolonged stint of research at the University of Maryland on the work of an esteemed climate scientist. Second, the experience allowed me to gauge the substantive differences of my research relative to my colleagues’. Without that sense of scholarly placement, my research would likely languish. Finally, I have continued to correspond with a number of scholars that I met during my visit. In sum, the experience was both academically and socially fulfilling. At the risk of sounding too sentimental, the history of science, and the lives of those who pursue research in this field, has been enhanced due to the generosity of the National Science Foundation. I genuinely hope for the continued support of the NSF for years to come." The 4 Societies are exceedlingly grateful to the NSF and to the American public for their support. Such support demonstrates the American commitment to excellence in scholarship, and it ensures that future generations will be well prepared to deal with the many implications -- those foreseen and those not envisioned -- of advances in science and technology.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Frederick M Kronz
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History of Science Society
Notre Dame
United States
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