Sunday, April 20, 2014

Coylvas readings

Hi folks.  Two readings for use with our guest speaker this Friday are online here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

“Academy Fight Song” The Baffler No. 23, 2013 Thomas Frank


Key Points:

·      The American University as utopian imaginary and a four-year degree represented as guaranteeing individual class ascendancy and national competitiveness; contrast this against the reality of the contemporary university (i.e. crippling student debt);

·       Contemporary University as supply-side education: “a ‘credential’ that’s ‘a prerequisite for 21st century jobs’,” an economic input,  but this is a higher education cliché; “no one really knows the particular contents of the education that is supposed to save us”;

o   college grads as colonizing an entire economy, perpetuating their “worth” via networking;
o   powerful quote: “Get something else, like a cosmetologist license or a membership in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and you lose
o   powerful quote: “What they sell, in other words, is something we believe to be so valuable it is almost impossible to measure”;

·      The University as academic capitalism: patents and startups; self-description as “entrepreneurial” institutions; outsourcing of operations; antagonistic to worker organization; wealth managers;

·      Selling the imaginary of the University to naïve student consumers: Grant to an industry control over access to the good things in life; insist that it transform itself into a throat-cutting, market-minded mercenary; get thought leaders to declare it to be the answer to every problem; mute any reservations the nation might have about it – and, lastly, send it your unsuspecting kids, armed with a blank check drawn on their own futures;

o   American student as “cash-cow” (monopolies and oligopolies: text book industry, standardized test industry, test-prep industry, enrollment management consultancies
o   Universities as luxury good (tuition hikes, Starchitect buildings)
o   Proliferation of university administrators with bloated salaries – their expanded role in governance; management theory and jargon
o   De-professionalization of faculty: proliferation of adjuncts and contingent labor

·      Academic capitalism has been chronicled for decades.  What “ought” to happen is that trends described should be put in reverse, but what “will” happen is a bubble bust, followed by more deep marketization

·      The “only way out”: student activism

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elite South Korean University Rattled by Suicides (NYT, 2011)

(Following summary is not merely the summary of what I posted for the lecture today, but also includes my own thoughts on the situation of public research university in South Korea. Please enjoy this, and sorry for the late posting)

This article, published in the New York Times in 2011, is about serial suicides in KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), which is one of the most prestigious research universities in South Korea. Author traces the reason for multiple suicides of students and professor from the changing university policy, such as 100% English spoken lecture, penalty tuition fee policy.
           For the background, which is not very clear in this article, KAIST is originated from two institutions, KIST and KAIS – two elite-centered science research and education facilities founded by President Chunghee Park, military man who seized his presidency of South Korea from 1962 to 1979 and lead enormous economic development of country. With authoritarian and technocratic perspective, he believed that high-end research university which can produce the professional researcher for industry could elevate the economic status of South Korea, and KAIST is the legacy of his regime. Still, the logic of economic development by industrial firms with advanced scientists and engineers is widely spoken in the science and technology policy arena in South Korea, and KAIST in at the center of the structure as an elite public university which obligates to produce the best scientists and engineers for industry, and consequently for the economic development of nation. Historically, numerous researchers in Korean large conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG look to support this logic; however, we are facing new wave of neoliberal policy and globalization.
           According to the article, Nam-pyo Suh, Carnegie-Mallon trained engineer and past dean of the department of mechanical engineering of MIT for more than a decade, became a president of KAIST in 2006, and adopted his new policies which “aimed at modeling KAIST after MIT and other world-class science and research universities.” For the purpose of excellence, 100% of lectures opened in KAIST began to be taught in English, even Korean history and Korean writing class, and students who had the GPA lower than B (3.0) were enforced to pay additional ‘penalty’ tuition fee.
For him, the reason to initiate these harsh policies for the excellence of KAIST was simply from the history of KAIST. In surface, underlying belief of these policies were 1) raising the excellent student in globalizing world was imperative for the industrial firms and economic development of nation, and 2) competence among the students under the harsher environment would reward them with better knowledge and skill for their own future career.
           Thus, the story of KAIST is the cross road of many changes in current academia. The relationship between the industry and university is becoming tighter than before, South Korean context of government-led economic development model is still alive, and the goal of education is now to meet the ‘global standard’ in harsher environment. In South Korea, birth of the research university was historically in the context of government-led economic development model with technocratic linear model belief that elite scientists and engineers would drive the economic development. Now, it is time to ask what will be the future of KAIST, what the ‘public good’ is, and what should be done by KAIST, as a public research university, to meet the needs of public of South Korea in globalizing future.

Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science - Broad 2014

View the article with media at NYT. It is worth reading the text juxtaposed with the chosen imagery.

According to this recent New York Times article (March 15, 2014), a change is taking place in how American science (and especially 'Big Science') is being funded. Although the narrative of the federal maintains that the government plays a leading role in funding innovative research meant "to grow our economy" and compete with other developed countries, more and more funding dollars are being contributed by private donors and patrons. The increase in private money contributed to science is often blamed on a failure of the federal government. As Broad states it: "American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise" (2014).

He continues:
[Philanthropists] have mounted a private war on disease, with new protocols that break down walls between academia and industry to turn basic discoveries into effective treatments. They have rekindled traditions of scientific exploration by financing hunts for dinosaur bones and giant sea creatures. They are even beginning to challenge Washington in the costly game of big science, with innovative ships, undersea craft and giant telescopes — as well as the first private mission to deep space.
The article regales readers with several anecdotes of the new science philanthropy. Philanthropic science is described as opposed to traditional (publicly-funded) science. Where public science is centralized, collaborative, structured, and slow, science philanthropy is "personal, antibureaucratic, inspirational" and decentralized. The inspirations for a variety of billionaires' particular passions are explored, as well as their monetary consequences. Workshops are now available to teach researchers and institutions how to appeal to these private donators. The journal Nature has published tips on the same topic.

In many ways, the divide between prioritizing public and private money seems partisan. Democrats stress that private money will never be a substitute for government funding, while Republicans suggest that private funding is one way to decrease the size of the federal government. The government admits that there is very little knowledge, however, of how much money is coming from private donations, as monitoring the new system is costly.

This new system is not without its critics. Opponents point out that private money is not spread evenly across institutions, disciplines, or problems. Instead, the individual interests and goals of wealthy donors takes priority. Although the pockets of philanthropy are deep, resources are not going towards the basic research necessary for effective scientific studies. The majority of private funding is funneled into elite universities and problem-oriented research institutes. Fields and universities that already claim a lot of funding are the recipients of this new flow, according to research by Dr. Fiona E. Murray. The research focuses on a small number of diseases (generally diseases that disproportionately effect white Americans) and sensational or sexy fields (oceans studies, climate change, space travel, big machines, etc). Finally, private donors are able to leap over traditional restrictions on research developed by decades of scientific gatekeeping (peer review) and governmental bureaucracy and priorities.

What is unclear from the article is to what extent this new system of philanthropic donations and private patrons is actually participating in the daily advances of scientific research in the US. As the author states, "public money still accounts for most of America's best research, as well as its remarkable depth and diversity." In fact, we could just as easily call this the "old system" of research. Patrons and private wealth have traditionally played a large role in research of all kinds. It may be worth asking how these new philanthropists are different from the wealthy patrons of other periods. It may be that, with increasing wealth and power in the new economy, the individual passions of patrons are being explored on a scale unseen before. Initiatives like the Giving Pledge do seem to be driving this new system's growth.

The article seems to be implicitly puppeting the opinion of "former skeptic" Martin A. Apple:
Initially, Dr. Apple said, he, too, saw the donors as superrich dabblers. Now he believes that they are helping accelerate the overall pace of science. What changed his mind, he said, was watching them persevere, year after year, in pursuit of highly ambitious goals.“They target polio and go after it until it’s done — no one else can do that,” he said, referring to the global drive to eradicate the disease. “In effect, they have the power to lead where the market and the political will are insufficient.”
When discussing specific billionaires, the tone is overwhelmingly positive and personal. Portraits of patrons are juxtaposed with impressive machines or vistas. Donors are described in terms of their research interests and credited with the advancement of science. Details on particular scientists, their careers and inspirations, are missing. Here, money is the ultimate cause for innovation and the element most worth discussing.

Discussion Questions:
1. Does this new system exist? Will philanthropic money outpace public funding in the future?
2. How might the "philanthropic landscape" change or affect the research university? Will there be pressure to popularize and, if so, who at the university will most strongly feel that pressure?
3. To what extent should the research university or individual researchers pursue philanthropic money?
4. Will focus on private money "diminish public support for federal science"?
5. How might the new system change graduate studies?

Summary: The New Academic Celebrity (Shea)

Published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the article "The New Academic Celebrity" tackles the idea of how TED talks are changing the definition of academic stardom, as well as what research becomes validated. Though it's not a direct address on the future of the university, it does deal with numerous themes we've discussed over the course of the semester: the privileging of certain research, research publics, donors, and the role of the university.

The general gist of the article is that TED talks have created new academic celebrities, but that their research needs to fit both a particular tone (an optimistic message) as well as attract an audience. What the article points out, though, is that this tends to highlight some disciplines over others. Generally, the humanities are ignored while science, psychology, and neuroscience are routinely featured. The article extends beyond TED, though, to touch on how technologies are changing the university. Shea writes:
"These include similar ideas-in-nuggets conclaves, such as the Aspen Ideas Festival and PopTech, along with huge online courses and—yes, still—blogs. These new, or at least newish, forms are upending traditional hierarchies of academic visibility and helping to change which ideas gain purchase in the public discourse."
A recurring theme (sometimes underlying, sometimes explicit) in our discussions has been the relationship of the university to the public. In this case, research takes the form of the circulation of ideas. More than patents or discoveries, here the public gains some more intangible: a particular perspective. Below, I follow a few key passages from the article and begin to unpack them to help us thing about this dialogue of the future of the university.

But if the old humanist stars had their critics, so do the professors who stalk the TED stage. In December, Benjamin Bratton, an associate professor of visual arts at the University of California at San Diego, delivered one of the most stinging attacks on TED and the intellectual mode it has inspired. (Semi-ironically, he delivered it at TEDx San Diego.) He recounted sitting in on a meeting at which an astrophysicist pitched a donor on supporting his work. 
Bratton said that the donor declined, suggesting the scientist needed to be "more like Malcolm Gladwell." "The donor didn’t think he was inspirational enough," Bratton recalls. "He didn’t tell a story that [the donor] could feel good about." That an actual scientist would be advised to model himself after a popularizer with a packed corporate-speaking schedule struck Bratton as "frightening."
Here, we see the assumptions about how research needs to be presented affects not just public discourse but funding mechanisms. Moreover, these expectations could change how researchers feel compelled to present research in order to get funding. This expectations validates a particular assumption that research should have results, rather than be exploratory. Moreover, it changes which type of research will be compelling for outside funding.
Hard scientists, for their part, seem utterly unperturbed by the opportunity events like TED afford. "Especially for those of us who do research funded with federal grants, I think we have a responsibility to explain to people what our science has found out," says Tufts’s Sara Lewis, the ecologist and self-styled "firefly junkie." She thinks the wide distribution of such talks might even reduce scientific illiteracy: "My hope is that by the time the National Science Foundation does another survey about how many Americans believe in evolution, it won’t be 48 percent, it’ll be, oh, 60 percent."
In this passage, we see a return to the idea of research publics, as well as research in the public good. Moreover, the concept of science literacy that we discussed two weeks ago returned. Here, additionally, the idea of funding and its relationship to the research pursued returns.
TED and its cousin events create the expectation that problems like inequality and environmental degradation can be solved without rethinking any of our underlying assumptions about society, Bratton argues. History has ended; only the apps and robots will keep getting better. Over 30 years, he says, TED "has distorted the conversation we have about technology and innovation. The uncomfortable, the ambivalent, the real difficulties we have get shunted aside."
As we've discussed in conversations about inter/trans/etc.-disciplinary, certain disciplines get more leverage than others in what gets emphasized or what counts as interdisciplinary. Here, we see a complication between research in the public and research insulated within the academy. When facing the public, is there always the assumption that research needs to provide a particular narrative? Is this only particular to TED talks or could this be extended to other areas? What is the responsibility of academia to enter these conversations and provide alternative perspectives?

Land-Grant Universities in the 21st Century

For this week's reading, I chose to search for one that pertained to land-grant universities in the U.S. The many topics we have covered throughout the course have broadly applied to both private and public universities, but our discussions specific to public universities often seemed to include considerations that would have also applied to "land-grant" universities. Thus, for the week on the future of the research university, I thought an article that addressed the future of land-grant institutions in particular would better familiarize us with the unique origins and realities of many public research universities.

I chose this article, "The Land-Grant University in the 21st Century," by Michael V. Martin because it framed its argument for the future of land-grants both in terms of their past and their present, with considerations for the future as well. Martin contends that land-grant universities in the 21st century are still relevant, and in fact "have never been more relevant nor more important." He justifies this with a brief overview of the original intent and legislative history of land-grants. The idea originated with a professor in the mid-1830s campaigning for "state-sponsored universities to serve the 'industrial classes.'" Although the subsequent bill was initially rejected in Congress, it eventually passed in the form of the Morrill Act of 1962. Martin points out that the first Morrill act "represented a profound innovation in higher education for several important reasons," including the facts that 1) it combatted the elitist English model of universities widespread at the time with an eye to serving social and economic development through higher education; 2) it "established a public, federally assisted system," as a counterweight to the many "private, church-sponsored institutions"; 3) Congress used federal lands instead of federal funds "to encourage states to accept the land-grant character"; and 4) they had a primary focus on "liberal and practical education of the industrial classes."

These features and accomplishments of the initial law were expanded as Congress introduced additional laws supplanting the number and nature of land-grants. For example, the 1887 Hatch Act "added the charge to conduct research and experimentation in the public interest to the land-grant mission." This, Martin says, "in effect, gave rise to the research universities of today," and "further established the role of government in stimulating economic growth." Other laws included the Second Morrill Act of 1890, which established the system of historically black universities, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which directed land grants to bring the universities to state citizens through extension services, and, finally, a 1994 act that "targeted access to higher education by chartering and funding 29 tribal land-grant colleges." These many developments show both the long history and multifold purposes of land grants, which Martin argues is proof of their inherently "non-traditional" function in higher education, one that can inform land grant leaders today as they contend with changing socio-economic realities.

The second part of this compact article features five "significant challenges" that land grants face, according to Martin. These include that 1) land-grant do not comprise a system "in the functional meaning of the term," so that they essentially operate as disconnected, stand-alone institutions that could benefit from mutual engagement and shared "programmatic resources and political influence"; 2) too many focus on inputs like competitive federal funds or good students and minimize outputs or accomplishments related to their original missions; 3) they suffer from a general public distrust of science which dampers social support for their research missions; 4) they resist "mission creep" by other public organizations for the most part, which minimizes the possibility for cooperative partnerships; and 5) they face daunting new fiscal realities mostly based on political unpopularity for flexible, tax-based funding. These challenges are important for considering the constraints as well as the potential areas of improvement for land-grant universities.

As a student of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I always use UW as the case study of topics in this class, and this one seems especially relevant. Many of the challenges Martin delineates figure prominently in UW news and campus debates. To be sure, UW puts a high priority on federal research funding and national rankings, which is in part connected to the fiscal realities it must face. The UW seems to be attempting to counteract the public distrust of science in some ways, for example through the community openness and educational programming of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. However, from my perspective (which is admittedly biased, anecdotal and under-informed), I see the UW as succeeding in a number of ways that Martin postulates land grants have struggled. Although institutional competition and stringent fiscal realities have largely prevented it from significantly contributing to the systematization of land grants across the country, UW places great priority on its outputs, particularly in pursuit of the Wisconsin Idea that drives (at least rhetorically) so many of its endeavors. Despite its frequent self-comparison with elite institutions, and what some might call a tuition level inaccessible to the many in the state, UW research is inarguably oriented toward potential benefits to the state, especially in the agricultural realm, and UW is making significant attempts to expand life-long learning programming and distance education online for the "time- and/or place-bound citizens" whom it is very aware can benefit from a land-grant university education.

My question are:

1) What do you see as other ways in which the UW's actions counter Martin's claims?
2) Given the new fiscal realities, could land grants ever truly hope to form a unified, sharing system?
3) Martin seems to hint that competition with "elite" schools in some ways detracts from a land-grants' original mission. To what degree/ extent is this a good/ bad/ inevitable thing?

In a Buyer’s Market, Colleges Become Fluent in the Language of Business, Richard Pérez-Peña, New York Times, (March 27, 2014)

           This article draws together questions we have raised in this seminar about what happens to higher education when economic pressures infuse universities with market-leaning values. Richard Pérez-Peña, a New York Times education reporter and author of the article, argues the relationship between higher education and students increasingly resembles a commercial transaction and interviews higher education experts and administrators to reflect on how this is restructuring academic priorities.
            Their talking points resonate with many of the conclusions we have settled on in Room 6117 over that last three months. That, for example, the development of a well-rounded citizenry as an educational goal has lost footing, students have become increasingly focused on how their education translates into job prospects and universities are becoming more preoccupied with filling classroom seats.

Summary: Watters, A. (2013) "The Case for a Campus Makerspace"

This blog post is a transcript from a talk the author gave at the Educause Learning Initiative annual meeting. She describes the purpose of her talk, "...this talk hopes [to] make a case for schools looking to the Maker culture rather than markets to help them reinvigorate themselves, to help keep them relevant, to help students be engaged and to make their learning meaningful and empowered."

She begins by pushing back at the longstanding belief that the future of education is online by arguing that computers and the internet have been around for decades and we're still figuring out how to use online and digital tools to facilitate learning. She proposes we shift our focus from changing education through online learning to utilizing digital technology and the internet in our "face-to-face learning environments" where learning practices like project-based learning, experimentation, and play have shown to be successful.

Makerspaces have grown out of what the author calls the "Maker Movement" which continues to grow with help from Make magazine and Maker Faires. With so much momentum behind this movement, Watters suggests that those who work in formal educational settings should be asking themselves what the Maker Movement is getting right and what we can learn from it. Like the founder of Make Magazine, Watters argues that we should care about the future of manufacturing and that makerspaces are great places to engage in problem solving and designing for "low-cost and local manufacturing". She then says that makerspaces are not just places for people with engineering, computer science, and design backgrounds, but that they aspire to be "democratic and participatory". I wonder how these aspirations may be limited since most makerspaces require a monthly fee and those on campuses are not open to the general public. Other important questions to ask is who gets to be a part of this movement and what kinds of makers are being featured in this movement. Why do most of the Make magazine covers feature males? Are craftspeople a part of this movement or 4H clubs?

Watters then makes the case for makerspaces and the "maker ethos" on college and university campuses. She references John Dewey and how he was a proponent of learning by doing and then describes how makerspaces allow students to practice prototyping, problem solving, and design thinking, and exposes them to "cutting edge technologies" that could lead to "employment and entrepreneurial opportunities". She comes back to her argument about investing in face-to-face learning environments and how, at the time of this blog post, there were an estimated 60 makerspaces on college campuses which was more than the number of campuses partnered with Coursera, which hosts MOOCs. She also notes the "openness" to the public and the interdisciplinary-nature of makerspaces (many are not associated with one department). Like before, I think it's important to question just how open these spaces are to the public. She references the Garage at UW-Madison and having spent lots of time in the Garage, I know it's mainly made up of Physics and Engineering students.

Watters ends her talk by describing the "personalized" learning that takes place in makerspaces versus online learning environments, and how makerspaces move away from the idea of teaching as many people as possible in large lecture halls or online to promoting small and local learning. She leaves us with a set of questions that are important ones to ask,

What does it mean to create an informal learning space on a college campus?
Are the Maker culture and academia even compatible?
What sort of institutional support will students need -if any - to participate in makerspaces?
How can we make sure everyone feels welcome?
Will some students only want to "make" for a grade or for credit?
Does having "making" as a course requirement impact students' willingness to experiment?
Does the college campus itself alter the making?

Audrey Watters writes about educational technologies and some of her work has appeared in The Atlantic, EDUCAUSE Review, The Huffington Post, and Edutopia. She is a former teacher.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Readings for this week ...

... are being uploaded to this folder which you access with your normal UW NetID and password.  So far there are five readings for your perusal!

Speaking of the social sciences building ...

William H. Sewell Social Sciences Building
In the 1950s, as American academic interest in the social sciences was enjoying a burst of post-World War II popularity, UW-Madison began to look for a new building to house its departments of economics, sociology, and anthropology. After much deliberation, a site was chosen just east of Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall, at the western edge of what was then called Bascom Woods—soon to be renamed “Muir Woods” as one result of the ensuing controversy.
Since this eight-acre tract included some of the only remaining forested land on campus, a number of faculty members protested the idea that a natural area so near the heart of the university would be sacrificed to what in retrospect can be seen as the start of a great wave of construction that would transform the entire campus in the decade ahead.
The Capital Times newspaper spearheaded protests against the proposed site of the building, and there was even a bill introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature to prevent development in Bascom Woods. But it was soon amended to permit construction of the Social Science Building, which was completed in 1962.
The Social Science Building was arguably a milestone in the history of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve—though these lands would not actually be given that name until more than four decades later.
Professors in the Botany Department who were especially upset about the loss of remaining natural areas lobbied for the creation of a “Woods Committee” to monitor the health of campus forests and guard against future incursions into campus green space. The Woods Committee was the direct ancestor of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve Committee that today oversees policies and long-term stewardship of these precious natural areas that are such an important feature of the campus and the city.
One might say that the Social Science Building helped galvanize public opinion both on and off campus to mobilize for the protection of these lakeshore lands.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seminar notes - Architecture readings

We started out by coming up with examples of spaces on campus to discuss in the context of the readings. WID came up first, and I (Patrice) pointed out that as discussed by some of the authors, WID seems to be following a trend by which research institutes include a publically accessible area, “public beachhead”, but there is a boundary across which the public is not allowed.  In WID it seems access is restricted to the first floor with elevator access to upper floor education areas that remain sealed off from the research areas. It was also pointed out that, even though you can’t access the stairs in WID as part of the public, they are glass so it makes you feel like you can access something, even though you can’t.
We also discussed the name. The name does not include the name does not refer to any particular field, which may help lead people to correctly interpret that it is meant to be interdisciplinary. Daniel said WID is in the midst of trying to recast it’s name so that people refer to it as “Discovery Institute” rather than “WID”. We also talked about who is working in WID. Jamie Thompson came up and also the point that WID was built in part to keep him on campus, consistent with the theme of building to attract/keep star researchers as consistent with what we saw in the examples in the readings.

Henke and Gieryn, Sites of Scientific Practice: The Enduring Importance of Place (2008)

This chapter from the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies is shedding light on the trends how STS scholars have dealt with the issue of location and space in scientific research. Furthermore, authors urge to focus more on “how place has consequence for scientific knowledge and practices, and why focus on geographic location and situated materialities can enlarge our understanding of science in society.”
           First, authors introduce four trends of answers how the place matters in STS chronologically, 1) positivist understanding that the place does not matter 2) laboratory ethnographers who revealed the context specific construction of knowledge 3) historians and sociologists of science who focused on how different knowledge regimes acquired the legitimacy of knowledge in different material settings, and 4) actor network theory (ANT) scholars who transcend the physical boundary of the place by emphasizing the network of heterogeneous actors for the construction of knowledge. Henke and Gieryn argue that the fourth wave is underestimating the importance of the place setting in knowledge construction, thus insist academic scholarship should develop the third wave more thoroughly to understand why and how the place matters.
           Then, why people gather together and make complex of team in scientific research? The role of place is not only limited as a geographical place with proper research facilities. The complex of people and facilities, moreover, imbue the authority to the knowledge, thereby constitute the scientific knowledge. For instance, particle accelerator facility is a “trading zone” of high energy physicists to meet each other and exchange their research data to construct the trust and authority of their research. In this sense, research place is a cultural setting which demarcates the reliable scientific research and inappropriate science. Scientific lab is the place where the disorderness is reinterpreted as an ordered phenomenon, public and private is separated, invisible things become visible, and standardization of particular experimental technique take place. The structure of scientific lab implies not only scientists’ relationship with non-scientists, but also drastically represents the relationship among them. For instance, the top floor of SLAC is for theoretical physicists while the basement is for instrument shops. Laboratory architecture reveals the disciplinary differences rather than the unity among them.
           Several current STS challenge the authority of physical setting of research laboratory by presenting the empirical studies on the knowledge construction in various non-laboratory places. In other words, as Brian Wynne’s Cumbria sheep farmers’ case shows, the boundary between laboratory and field is getting blurred.

1)     How much the importance of the ‘place’ is different depends on different scientific disciplines? For instance, the meaning of laboratory for high energy physicists who need the large scale infrastructure setting and for ecologist who should find their knowledge source from out there nature must be different.

2)     Why the laboratory should be the place inside of research facility? In other words, if we assume that the field is kind of laboratory, aren’t we able to extend the discussion on how the material setting is interrelated with knowledge construction?

3)     In other words, why lab is opposite word of field? Denial of this dichotomy is not to weaken the authority or importance of ‘the place’ but to broaden the discussion!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Peter Gallison and Caroline A. Jones, “Factory, Laboratory, Studio: Dispersing Sites of Production”

For this article, authors Peter Gallison and Caroline A. Jones take a scientific-art hybrid approach. The premise of the article is that postwar artists and scientists not only "occupied common ground" (more than is commonly realized) but they also experienced “synchronic” shifts in that common ground. Following World War II, they contend, both scientists and artists saw a transformation in the “architectural and discursive spaces thought to be peculiar to their disciplines.” This transformation across both realms was composed of three main phases. Briefly, these were centralization, in the post-war through the late 1960s; physical dispersion, in the 1970s; and electronic dispersal, in the 1980s and 1990s. Gallison and Jones point out that these phases where not internationally uniform, nor were they uniformly accepted by participants. For example, the United States compared to Europe, was much quicker to exhibit the development of the immediate post-war period, even though a number of noteworthy scientists pushed back against centralization (which they perceived as impure or unrighteous contaminations of their work) until they ultimately accepted the field-wide transformation. This touches on another reality among the three phases: where external developments or trends had implications for architecture, they also had implications for the inhabitants of such architecture - as well as the processes of production they engaged in. 

For the purposes of this course, I will acknowledge key points of the author’s argument with respect to the parallel developments in the art world that happened in the science world, but I will mostly focus on the scientific aspects of their article. After having given myself that analytical luxury, I will look at the article not through the simple centralization/dispersion dichotomy the authors divide the article into, but through three aspects of the scientific transformation (that they identify in the last third of the article) and across the three phases that I have identified. As they state on p.529, “An experiment’s spatio-temporal bounds, the notion of a scientific author, and the methods for arriving at a scientific demonstration were all in flux.”

An experiment’s spatio-temporal bounds
This aspect of each of the three phases gets at the "actual" versus "discursive" sites that Gallison and Jones argue were both impacted in each phase. From this aspect, the other aspects which attend to the "discursive" nature of the sites follow, as you will see. Most clearly, phase 1's impact on the spatio-temporal bounds was one of directed centralization and mechanization. Based on the "exemplar of the factory" and industrial principles that emerged from World War II, experimental physics laboratories began physically centralizing in order to avoid duplication of process, among other benefits. Phase 2 had the opposite effect on the spatio-temporal bounds of an experiment: It brought about the physical dispersal of sites as well as the massive expansion of their size and scale of purpose. As the authors succinctly state, "The single factory site became less prevalent" after 1970. Finally, phase 3, which I am divvying out from the general categorization of dispersion the authors present, brought about the dispersal of sites across electronic space (think of "the net").  Importantly, they point out that “The dispersing…of scientific sites of production into the Ethernet presents us with entirely new architectures to consider. Architectures of software and managerial structures gain an unruly complexity” (p. 533). With this came debates over whether (and in what ways) to maintain a physical location – perhaps a “central campus” or “regional center” from which the main project would be run. Interestingly, Gallison and Jones intimate that such “conceptual diffusion” of science into the electronic world was invariably connected to the national goals of global leadership. As for the author's parallel to the art world, they say (on which they elaborate and qualify much more in the article) that “For artists, the factory model was much slower to make itself felt, and resistance to centralization was much more programmatic within the individualizing ethos of the avant-garde.”

The notion of a scientific author 
As the spatio-temporal bounds of an experiment began to change, quickly so to did the notions of authorship surrounding that experiment. In reference to Phase 1, Gallison and Jones say that centralization was also thought to promote group identity, although there was a hierarchical structure that likely determined the division of labor across processes and projects. They discuss the resistance by individual scientists of such centralization, which surely reflected concerns surrounding authorship by scientists of small laboratories, for example. In phase 2, the authors point out, scientists “challenged centralization in favor of physical dispersal and new modes of authorship,” and that “Previously centered executive authorship begins to be dispersed among multiple sites and multiple authors.” Phase 3 arguably brought about the biggest challenge to preexisting notions of scientific authorship. In phase 3, Gallison and Jones argue, experimental physics became more and more corporatized and the relations between business and research became closer. "With this shift," they say, "control, coordination, and ultimately authorship itself were dispersed, conditions that physicists were forced to accept” (p. 524). While this seems a bit contrary to their comment pertaining to phase 2, where scientists welcomed different notions of authorship, it is possible that the changes brought in phase 3, of which notions of authorship was one, were more than those same scientists had ever expected in the 1970s. Because of the scale on which 1980s and 1990s experiments were conducted, a division of labor was needed that "had powerful consequences." For example, Each group had to guarantee not only the physical construction of its particular component, but ultimately the physics results that came out.” (p. 526-527) Moreover questions arose such as: “Who counts as an experimenter, and what complex modifications of the subject must be articulated before scientific authorship can be ascribed?" (p. 527). As for the author's parallel to the art world, they say (on which they elaborate and qualify much more in the article) that “The effects of dispersion are, perhaps, less complete in the art world than in the physics world, because the art market works continuously to recuperate authorship and define a locus of production that can guarantee uniqueness” (p. 529).  However, Gallison and Jones also say, “the effects that were only emergent in the 1970s have spread much farther, with an unprecedented surge in collaborative authorship” (p. 530).

The methods for arriving at a scientific demonstration (or scientific production)
Both the spatio-temporal bounds of an experiment and notions of authorship were implicated in the changes brought to methods for arriving at scientific demonstration (or scientific production, as I think of it) throughout the three phases - although the relationship between each aspect is not so linear as this suggests. In phase 1, centralization was a means to an end, and that end was industrialized modes of production thought to be streamlined for efficiency. In addition, centralization was thought to alter scientific demonstration/ production in that it would was thought “to be a precondition of flexibility at the periphery” in that it created a “hub” that would prevent “the edge from drifting away” - that edge likely being considered a vital part to the overall productive and creative potential of a site. Dispersal, both physical and electronic, impacted production in similar ways across phases 2 and 3, as the up-scale fundamentally altered the methods for arriving at a scientific demonstration/ production. The sheer increase in collaborators, distance between them, and resources collectivized almost guarantee changes. Gallison are most specific about what those changes were in the 1980s and 1990s (phase 3). They point out that experiments of the 1980s included “200-700 physicists from 10-20 institutions working on $500 million of electronic equipment,” compared to the “10-20 collaborators working on a million dollar project” a decade earlier. That was result of delocalization, which eventually traversed physical bounds so that “500 or so collaborators [could be linked] together by purely electronic means, and making possible the joint composition of massive programs for the design, planning, and analysis of experiments” (p. 528). The authors also note that “Computer flow charts began to replace industrial organization charts of maps of experimental practice.” Importantly, they note the problems that arose from this: “The gigantic teams of the 1980s and 1990s…are not so much competing with each others as they are simply trying to hold together against the forces of a dispersed production and a decentered site” (p. 527). Invoking the parallels between science and art in this respect, they say that the postmodern production of science takes place across “data flows and ethernets” just as the postmodern production of art takes place not in a factory-modeled studio but in the…realms of print, film, and photographic media." (p. 498).

Importantly, Gallison and Jones frame these aspects, developments, and phases as consequential in their own right, rather than merely byproducts of more diffuse trends. As they say, “We do not see the decentering of the laboratory or the dispersal of the studio as merely ‘mirroring’ some independent, underlying change in the economy…. When they expend hundreds of millions of dollars, these laboratories are multinational corporations of consequence.”

My Questions:
  • Given that there was considerable pushback by a few noteworthy scientists, to what degree should we consider the phases/ developments complete or linear in nature? 
  • I’m having trouble with the idea of experimental physics having become a “corporation of corporations.” Isn’t that a bit overstated given other descriptions of this phase in the article?
  • Is there (is it possible/ desirable for there to be) a standardized method of assigning authorship, and if not what guarantee of return to participants have in working on a given project in the Phase 3 context?

Place for Research by David Alison, International Science and Technology, September 1962

This article was published in 1962, during the age of faith on ‘endless frontier’ with development of science and technology. Main point of this article is to spotlight the increasing importance and emphasis on architectural structure of research laboratory. By pointing out architectural fashion and style of the age, this article reveals that the role of architects was increasing though it did not always meet scientists' needs who worked inside of the building. Overall, this document could be regarded as a primary source which illustrates the increasing concern on how to design the research place to facilitate the research activity at the age of one of the golden age of American science research. 
           According to author, growing interest on architectural design of research place is due to the amplification of support compare to pre-war age. Thus, science laboratory was becoming a symbol of “temple of our century” which promises the development and economic pay-off. For instance, modern art picture had to be on the wall, and air conditioning system should be installed to enhance the productivity of research work even in the room without window. To fit into rapidly changing research structure, walls of building had to be removable, so that scientists could literally reassemble their research spaces.
           However, obsessive emphasis on functional design of laboratory space did not always work for scientists. For author, modern laboratory was losing the humanity component which old style laboratory such as Cavendish laboratory had acquired. One scientist in IBM laboratory confessed that “it taken me one year to learn to live in this building.”
           Then, what was the road to take? Author claimed that architects' focus should be beyond the designing of efficient space. For instance, how to organize the research place in ‘human scale’ in big science to maximize the intimate collaboration and creativity? Thus, “the best kind of architect for a research facility is one who understands the creative process.”

1) What were the factors behind the boom of research space design during the 1960s? Research fund boom was probably merely one of factors. For instance, rise of modernism in architecture which does not hide the function of the space could be one factor.
2) Was the architectural design of research laboratory fundamentally new phenomena during the 1960s? I can immediately recall research by Owen Hanaway on the case of Tycho Brache’s Uraniborg design. Space design of research institute has always been one of important concerns when scientists build the research place.
3) On the other hand, is the design of space exclusively important in research laboratory? Design of workshop, factory, and even the business office has been a concern of historians and sociologists in terms of how design of such places represents not only the function of the place, but also the meaning of the place in broader social context.
4) Directly linked to the third question – what are the relationships between function and symbol? In other words, design of research space has both functionalistic and symbolic purposes. Are they two independent factors? Or, are they two sides of coin?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stuart Leslie, "'A Different Kind of Beauty': Scientific and Architectural Style in I.M. Pei's Mesa Laboratory and Louis Kahn's Salk Institute," Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, (Spring 2008)

In this paper, published in Historical Studies and Natural Sciences, Stuart Leslie chronicles the efforts of two prominent researchers—Walter Roberts and Jonas Salk—to inspire two lab-building projects to represent and foster scientific ideals. Roberts, an atmospheric scientist, oversaw the building of Mesa Lab in Boulder, Colorado and Salk, a medical researcher and virologist, oversaw the building of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.
            Each man had a vision of how science should be practiced and represented. And each committed a great deal of energy into realizing their visions in the architecture of their labs. They worked with their architects as partners rather than just as clients, pushing back against architectural constructs of how science should be practiced and represented. The process was demanding on both researchers, but Leslie concludes it resulted in greater intellectual coherence between the labs and the science they housed. He also points out that the two buildings offer rare examples of laboratories also celebrated for their architecture.
The enduring research productivity in the Salk Institute and Mesa Lab would seem to provide a testament to the foresight in their design as functional forms for the research they house. Among the most influential research institutes world-wide, for example, the Salk Institute was ranked number one in neuroscience and behavior in 2009 and second in molecular biology and genetics in 2008. And in 1997, the Mesa Lab won an award from the Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Architects that recognizes buildings that still serve in their original capacity after more than 25 years.
The Mesa Lab and Salk Institute’s continued functionality as successful labs might be attributed in part by Roberts and Salk’s efforts to not entomb the practice of science in the architecture of their labs. Roberts repeatedly insisted the future needs of science are unpredictable. He stressed that the design of Mesa Lab should avoid any “architectural or organizational straight jacket” insisting that its design be somewhat malleable and flexible, allowing researchers to punch holes in or anchor things to walls and floors accommodate their changing needs.
Salk also insisted on a design with an eye towards flexibility, characterizing labs as living organisms in need of spaces that are “capable of differentiation in response to evolving needs”(p211). Consequently, labs in the Salk Institute were built as huge loft spaces with unfixed furniture and no walls, so researchers could arrange the space to meet their needs. Even the ceiling lights were on tracks so they could be moved around. And when the needs of his lab grew, Salk insisted an addition to the institute over the strong objections of his architect, Louis Kahn.
Tensions also emerged between the researchers and architects over the architects’ initial monolithic designs. While Roberts’s architect I. M. Pei envisioned a grand tower that would stand as a monument to science, Roberts interpreted large towers as cutting off serendipitous encounters by arranging people vertically rather than horizontally. Large towers also clashed with his desire to avoid hierarchical and bureaucratic arrangements. He instead wanted more of a village design. Eventually a compromise was reached in which five short towers were built that were connected underground. Similarly, Salk sent Kahn back to the drawing board when Kahn proposed a model that dwarfed the landscape with two clusters of massive towers.
Roberts and Salk had overlapping, but different ideas about what kinds of researcher interactions produce the best research. Both identified collaboration as a key ingredient, but differed in their ideas about between who and under what conditions that collaboration should take place. Roberts, for example, wanted a lab that would encourage “working in small groups with a wide-open door to the world”. And felt that the lab’s work should compliment not compete with university research.  Salk’s vision of collaboration was more inward looking and elitist, he sought to attract researchers who were the best and brightest in their fields and shelter them from the distractions of competition and grant seeking. Rather than a place where collaborations between small groups took place, he saw the Salk Institute as a place where collaboration would occur between a collective of individuals. He also wanted it to represent a sanctuary where researchers could largely ignore the outside world and distractions of competition and grant-seeking, and where they would not have to answer to anyone other than scientific collogues.
Leslie says that in participating in the design of the Mesa Lab and Salk Institute, Roberts and Salk also participated in the architecture of the disciplinary fields the labs represented—atmospheric sciences at Mesa Lab and biomedicine at the Salk Institute.  This point did not come across particularly clearly to me in the evidence Leslie offered. He discusses how researchers ultimately used the spaces within the labs, but the connection between these uses and how science in these disciplines is practiced remained a little fuzzy. It seemed to me like he actually talked more about how the architectural design did not influence the practice of the discipline in the ways that the researchers had hoped. For example, researchers at the Salk Institute ultimately were as distracted by competition and seeking funding as researchers anywhere else, and the nooks and crannies in the Mesa Lab that Roberts hoped would be used for serendipitous encounters for collaboration went largely unused.
For our discussion I hope we might have an opportunity to reflect on this aspect of Leslie’s article with my fist question for this seminar this Friday. I also leave for us to discuss, about how these two examples illustrate Leslie’s larger point that architecture necessarily stabilizes science.

1) How do you think the building of the Mesa Lab and Salk Institute may have ultimately influenced the disciplinary sciences they housed and represented as Leslie suggests?

2) In what ways to the stories of how the Mesa Lab and Salk Institute were designed and built illustrate Leslie’s point that architecture necessarily stabilizes science?

3) What makes a place look and feel like a research center?

4) Consider what you know about the architecture of WID, for example, it’s height, arrangement of interior spaces and the public accessibility and visibility of interior spaces. What do you think the architecture of WID communicates about who its inhabitants are and what they do?

About the Author: Stuart Leslie is a Department of History of Science and technology professor at John Hopkins. His research interests in science history include science in industry, in the university, and cold war era science. Leslie was also one of Greg Downey’s advisers and encouraged the young, bicycle-impassioned Downey in his dissertation work on 19th century telegraph messenger boys. Perhaps Greg will treat us to some stories about Leslie and some bicycle repairs.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Notes from April 4th discussion


Introduction the readings on public science

  • Theme from the WID/Morgridge/Town Center project.
  • Noah Feinstein started asking questions about who is the public? what do we imagine their engagement?
  • This weeks readings are built around questions of public science and the future of our university.


Nowotny et al

  • "Agora" is a space where democratic, economic, policy, public opinion constraints all come together to constrain or enable science in one way.
    • instead of just looking at constraints along one dimension, the framework for Agora
  • Risk-laden society: e.g. scientists have been equivocal on global warming and publics have pushed back against the uncertainty.
  • Anticipatory awareness: because science is embedded in the agora, the scientists may come to anticipate the needs of the public.
  • Main critique:
    • Mertonian ideals were pervasive before some point, but now we're in a totally different setting where publics are more engaged with science.
    • Daniel suggests we have to compare current situation to something, but maybe it's not good to compare to an unrealistic, idealized moment of WWII science.

Bucchi & Neresini

  • Deficit model: "the public" lacks knowledge or skills to appreciate science.
    • Once we give the public the knowledge and skills they will like science.
    • Bucchi & Neresini push back against this model because:
      • Measuring scientific literacy is hard because science and public audiences have different values. E.g. the Chernobyl fallout and sheep herders had different conclusions than experts based on their local knowledge of soil acidity.
  • Other models of public science.
    • Legal definitions of science for patent purposes.
    • Open source movements in software.
    • NGOs promote public participation: are they courting controversy for institutional goals rather than good faith engagement with science.
  • Spontaneity and Intensity
    • see the image.
    • Authors warn against seeing different engagement models as a progression from one stage to the next.
  • Is there an assumption in all these readings that scientists don't want public participation?
  • Will experts disappear? Authors say probably not, because theoretical physics.
    • Brings up questions about citizen scientists, the publics, and experts.
    • E.g. dissertation in geography about arboretum where volunteers suggested changes to a research protocol. E.g. Jill Harrison's work on exposure to
  • Multiple readings for this week reference Epstein's AIDS activist book Impure Science.
    • Daniel paraphrased, "The NIH source said that he would put activists against any of the grad students at the best schools."
    • Double-blind, placebo tests were changed to use pharmokinetic methods so all HIV patients could get the experimental drugs.
    • Is this example important just because it is an outlier in the world of citizen science? E.g. DNR projects were more a PR boost instead of good science.
    • AIDS activists were rich, white men (and they knew doctors), so they had lots of privilege going into the scientific work.
    • Daniel suggested that there is distinction between stakeholders (e.g. AIDS activists) or hobbyists (e.g. SETI or folding at home).

not about the articles per se

  • June asked "what is better science?" Is the push for citizen science to gather better or more data? Or is just a way to placate (sorry I'm cynical) the public because we live in a democratic society where science funding comes from democratic institutions?
    • "Citizens as sensors" e.g. counting birds.
    • Crowdsourcing, e.g. the historical document collection. Connected to the class given by Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
    • Is science different from humanities like history or art? Maybe citizen humanities research is more valid.
    • E.g. at DNR, motivation for citizen science was to deal with budget cuts.
    • Discussion around undergraduate lab assistants counting fruit flies or washing glassware; undegrads are analogous to citizen scientists.
  • Daniel summarizing Impure Culture
    • Getting access wasn't as hard as you might guess.
    • Scientists like to learn about their own labs; they aren't as suspicious as are we led to believe in STS literature.
    • Surprising that the current WID project has no hesitation from labs to have social science done on them.


  • Scientiffic authority is based on four things:
    • benefits all people
    • requires long training to be a scientists
    • common methods and theories
    • after vetting is ultimately objective
  • Participatory research challenges any or all aspect of scientiffic authority.
  • Three types of participatory research:
    • activist-initiated
    • professional-initiated
    • amateurs
      • vocational amateurs
      • marginal amateurs; Moore's e.g. is climate change deniers.
  • Not clear how participatory action research, e.g. No Safe Place, is or is not exactly the same as Moore's concept of participatory research.
  • Moore is not a realitivist, but when authority is no longer fixed, then it starts to get harder to say why participatory research like the AIDS activists are good but climate change deniers are bad.


  • This is the only reading this week where researchers directly interviewed scientists.
  • Scientists mostly deployed the deficit model in their explanations.
    • They see their primary role is to educate the public.
    • Alternatives were brought up about the possibility of two way communication between publics.
  • "Publics" are constructed by the scientists; and then their construction determines communications to the "public."
    • Example of medical doctors having less of a deficit model of communication because they have more face-to-face time with people.
  • Do communication activities at the WID fit with Davies's analysis?

Kinchy & Kleinman

  • E.g. GMO labeling debate.
    • Even lacking science for potential harms, there may be valued reasons for labeling food (not supporting Monsanto).
  • Mythes of objectivity and impartial science.
  • Predetermined political goals are supported through cherry-picking the scientific findings that support the political goal.
    • The outcome is that some "scientific facts" become reified and influence future research.
  • Stacked committees, Technocracy, and democratic science.
    • Is there a good solution? and realistic? This is hard.
  • Allen Hunter is thanked. Hunter has been opposed to this type of writing because it gives support to partisans for "democratizing" science but society is better served with science holding out the myth of impartiality (could we say objective?).

Abby J. Kinchy and Daniel Lee Kleinman, “Democratizing Science, Debating Values: New Approaches to “Politicized” Science under the Bush Administration,” Dissent (2005), 54-62.

·      Kinchy and Kleinman’s piece is a call for Democrats, leftists, and progressives to take more care in their critique of the Bush (George W.) administration’s sometimes-deceptive use of science in promulgating its political agenda.  While the author’s contend that deception is well worthy of criticism, they argue that further argument on the left against “politicizing” science (somehow distinguishing science from politics and values) both 1) misrepresents the nature of scientific knowledge, and 2) hinders truly democratic debate that engages deeper questions about science and values. 

·      The article systematically questions assumptions underpinning the critique of a “politicized” science:

o   That science is ever (or should ever be) value free: The authors argue that positions on policy issues across the political spectrum are always about values (e.g., abstinence-only education, stem cell research, global warming, genetically modified crops); that marshaling scientific evidence via the “cautionary principle” is used on both sides of the aisle; and that the very kinds of scientific questions that are asked and pursued begin with a set of social and political choices.

o   That science is ever impartial: Kinchy and Kleinman argue that “impartiality implies a comprehensiveness that is unachievable,” and the structural, ideological, and epistemological orientations of scientific disciplines constrain “objectivity” simply by narrowing the pursuits of scientific questions and applying specific limiting metaphors.  The authors cite Donna Haraway’s critique of scientific objectivity in her argument that knowledge is never de-coupled from the position of the knower (“god trick”).

o   That the public should focus criticism on the use of “predetermined findings (i.e. evidence selectively marshaled to fit predetermined outcomes)”: The authors argued that progressives should instead look to the ways science policy naturalizes or reifies specific political and cultural interests in non-obvious or subtle ways.  They should embark on an awareness-building project about assumptions of difference embedded in and metaphors used to make scientific arguments about “nature.”

o   That the use of selective, “stacked” committees is the central problem in “politicized” science: The authors don’t disagree that this is problematic, but argue for an expanded effort to democratize participation in science and open up the rigid boundaries of “expert knowledge,” by collaborating with lay people for both specialized knowledged, but also knowledge that incorporates situatedness in social and political context (e.g., “popular epidemiology).  Scientific literacy and scientific education should include from the start the social and the political dimensions of science