Shaping the Future – Science as Intervention
The Second Ittingen Summer School
August 13, 2005 – August 21, 2005
The main goal of the Second Ittingen Summer School is to explore the tension between the inherent performativity and implied promises of science.
The Second Ittingen Summer School welcomes applications from doctoral and post-doctoral students (who completed their PhD no earlier than 2000), from all academic disciplines in the natural, social and human sciences.
The Summer School is a one-week intensive workshop, which will take place in a beautiful old monastery in Switzerland from August 13, 2005 to August 21, 2005. It requires active participation, including preparatory reading, small group discussions, and the presentation of short papers.
The Collegium Helveticum of the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) and the University of Zurich, the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas of Tel Aviv University, and the Center for Junior Research Fellows of the University of Konstanz, in cooperation with the Lion Foundation, invite applications to the Second Ittingen Summer School, which is devoted to the topic "Shaping the Future – Science as Intervention."
The participants will stay in the hotel of the Kartause Ittingen and receive free accommodation and full board. Travel costs of European and Israeli participants will be covered in full; participants from other parts of the world will receive a substantial contribution to their travel costs. All material necessary for the preparation of the Summer School, as well as the cultural programme during the School, is free.
The history of science is, and has always been, closely related to the idea that the future of humankind can be – and has to be – actively shaped. Till the seventies science was considered the most important, if not the only social agency that can bring about an improvement of humanity. At the same time this almost unlimited confidence in science was accompanied by anxieties caused by a lack of confidence in the ability of science to control the consequences of its achievements. Thus the topic of “Shaping the future: Science as Intervention” has at least two different but interconnected dimensions, which will be addressed in the summer school:
The first is cognitive, and has been dealt with in the literature as the performative dimension of science. All scientific theories and practices imply a representation of the piece of the world they intend to explain. We will explore the extent to which this representation is “performative” in the sense that it has already shaped the world in a way that allows for an explanation to be offered in terms of the formulation of the problem
Secondly, an conception of science as intervention means that an ethical and political dimension is inherent to it: this is the dimension of “promises”. Scientific theories contain an implicit image of the future, usually a “better future” as they promise more health, happiness, security or comfort for humans. We will inquire into the manifold ways in which these promises impact on political decision making as well as on social, economic and ethical discourses.
Speakers and Discussion Topics
The opening lecture will be held by Martin Kusch, University of Cambridge, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, who will provide a general introduction to the theme of the Summer School. .ac.uk/dept/kusch.html
Imaging the Unknown: Science (in) Fiction
To shape the future one needs to relate to the unknown by imagining different possible (and impossible) scenarios of the futures. This is widely done in literature as well as in science itself, as will be discussed in presentations by Gesine Krüger and Phillip Sarasin, University of Zürich, Departement of History and Johannes Fehr, Collegium Helveticum, Zurich, who will look at the interrelation of fictional and scientific imaginations of the future.
Between the Invisible and Visible Hands: "Interventions" in the History of Economics"
In economics participants will investigate the theoretical positions of scholars concerning interferences in the privately motivated 'economic' process. The focus will be on the emergence of the concept of the concept of the "invisible" hand in 'monetary policy' from Smith to Keynes, as introduced in a lecture by Arie Arnon Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Department of Economy.
The Future of the Brain
In neuroscience one of the main foci of research is the interface of brains and computers. Following lectures by Cornelius Borck, McGill University, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy and Language of Medicine, and Gabriel Curio, Campus Benjamin Franklin der Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, there will be discussions on the social, political and ethical promises (and maybe anxieties) implicated in this flourishing branch of research.
Two weeks before the Summer School all participants will receive a reader with texts chosen by the lecturers, which they are required to read in preparation of the lectures and the discussions.
After the introductory lecture on August 13, 2005, each of the first three days of the Summer School is devoted to one of the issues listed above. Each issue will be introduced by two speakers and then discussed by all participants in small groups on the basis of the relevant texts from the reader. Summaries of the small group discussions will be presented and discussed further in a plenary session in the second half of each day.
On Thursday and Friday the participants will work in small groups to prepare and present research proposals on the basis of the preliminary discussions.
The Summer School will conclude on Saturday morning, August 21, 2005, with a public event devoted to the topic of the Summer School.
Applications and Contact
Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the Summer School, where further information is provided (web address provided below) Applications have to reach the organizers by May 10, 2005. Applicants will be notified in the beginning of June.
If you have additional questions, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Daniel Strassberg, Lion Foundation, Weinbergstr.145, 8006 Zürich, Switzerland. Phone +411-364 51 30; Fax +411-361 19 05.
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