ISIS is unique: its projects address not only the way scientific knowledge is used and applied, but how, by whom, and for whose benefit this knowledge is produced. Its work spans a spectrum from the most practical to the highly theoretical.
All ISIS projects are collaborative efforts involving citizens, scientists, activists, and other scholars and professionals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The projects aim both to encourage scientists to recognize the human impact of their work, and to promote the involvement of non-scientists in evaluating and guiding scientific approaches and advances.
Military Waste Cleanup Project: the Institute is part of a network of concerned individuals, scientists, military representatives, and community and public interest groups that are involved in nationwide military cleanup. Our local work on the cleanup of Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Mass. focused on enhancing interactions between citizen stakeholders, technical experts, and the military's cleanup team. Based on our experience, we are developing a national program, the Community-Science Partnerships (CoSP) Network, supported by the US EPA. The Network combines scientific expertise with strong citizen participation and policy recommendations to help with cleanups across the country.
ISIS works to preserve local knowledge systems and combine them creatively with reconstructive science, enabling appropriate uses of science and technology to foster community empowerment and self-determination. The Amazon Project (formerly the Secoya Survival Project) began as a collaborative effort of ISIS and the Organization of the Indigenous Secoya of Ecuador (OISE). At the request of OISE, ISIS developed this project to help the Secoya Nation respond to environmental and cultural destruction caused by oil production in the Ecuadorian Amazon; it has since expanded with additional work and other groups in the region.
In 1999, ISIS began a new Energy Choices Project to develop the link between sustainable technologies/policies/economics and a public whose day-to-day choices are the biggest impediment to positive change. Since most people don't even think of energy use as a decision, even those alternatives which are practical and economical (efficient appliances, wind power, mass transit) can not compete. Through a variety of choice-related initiatives, we sought to help the public to connect their everyday choices to their effects on the environment and empower them to choose sustainable options consistent with their own values. It was an unconventional focus, posing questions not yet answered, which was both its strength and its greatest challenge. The Energy Choices Project is currently dormant (Fall 2001).
ISIS is also involved in the creation and coordination of a research/action group for the study and treatment of the controversial medical condition Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). For more information, please contact Peggy Wolff, R.N. at 126 Cave Hill Road, Leverett, MA 01054; tel. (413)367-0239, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reconstructive Science Research and Education Program: ISIS President Bernstein, Founding Fellow Mike Fortun, and other staff and Junior Fellows of the Institute are currently undertaking research and writing for both university and public audiences. Dr. Bernstein writes on his quantum physics work, while Dr. Fortun focuses on human genetics and the business of biotechnology. This research and writing is available through the ISIS newsletter, After the Fact, here on our website, and through ISIS publications and speaking engagements.
Since 1997, ISIS has offered a postdoctoral fellowship program designed to assist new scientists in incorporating ethical and social concerns in the practice of their disciplines. ISIS is also planning the development of a variety of other educational projects, including a values-based, interdisciplinary Ph.D program and the development of alternative high school science curricula which emphasize the social embeddedness of science and technology. In addition, ongoing seminars and scientists dialogues complement
our education projects.
Our Seminars On Socially Responsible Science are an ongoing forum co-sponsored with various programs among the Five Colleges. Scientists, students, and interested citizens examine ethical issues in such disciplines as cognitive science, agriculture, transportation, linguistics, and quantum mechanics, in monthly discussions led by experts in the field.
Scientists' Dialogue Initiative: building on the work of physicist David Bohm, ISIS explores ways to promote dialogue among scientists and counteract the division and fragmentation of scientific thought. Scientists and other scholars participate in a series of structured dialogue sessions to question the nature of science, its practice, and its moral, ethical, and social dimensions. The dialogue process and its results are disseminated in both videos and writings.
Through our Recoding Life Project, Mike Fortun and other ISIS researchers investigate the changing conceptions of illness, health and the body brought about by modern biosciences and biotechnologies. Current work involves research and writings on human genetics, AIDS, and women's health issues.
Quantum Computation and Teleportation Project: ISIS conducts theoretical and experimental work in quantum mechanics, coupled with philosophical, sociological, and historical research into the production and effects of modern physics and related knowledge.
ISIS also hosts the site for the Mother Tongue Artists' Dialogue, a project for developing community dialogue through participatory art (see the information on the Bohm dialogues mentioned above.) This project is directed by Mary Bernstein and is centered in Holyoke, Massachusetts.