ISIS Seminars on Reconstructive Science

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Together with various programs at the four area colleges and the University of Massachusetts, ISIS has sponsored well-attended "Seminars on Socially Responsible Science" over the last several years. These interactive seminars bring together students, teachers, interested citizens, and academics from across many disciplines and areas of the community to learn together about the interactions of science and society. The events are led by experts interested in questioning the social and moral implications of their own fields of knowledge. Seminar topics have included the human implications of cognitive science, linguistics and racism, anthropology in Peru and the struggle for land rights, democratizing transportation engineering, recent trends in immunology, the successes and failures of integrated pest management (IPM) in agricultural science, the genetics of violence and sexuality, and the intersections between theoretical physics and the national security state.

Fall 2005 Seminars

November 29: "Planetary Science, Asteroids, & Comets: One Woman's Life in Science" with Dr. Lucy McFadden, A Luncheon Roundtable
Outstanding planetary astronomer and co-investigator on two recent spectacular outer space missions, Lucy-Ann McFadden (F'70) returns to Hampshire College for a special luncheon roundtable talk and discussion. Lucy led a spectrographic analysis on NEAR, the mission whose craft made Near Earth Rendezvous with the Asteroid Eros on Valentine's Outstanding planetary astronomer and co-investigator on two recent spectacular outer space missions, Lucy-Ann McFadden (F'70) returns to Hampshire College for a special luncheon roundtable talk and discussion. Lucy led a spectrographic analysis on NEAR, the mission whose craft made Near Earth Rendezvous with the Asteroid Eros on Valentine's day 2000. Lucy was also co-investigator on the Deep Impact mission which sent an impactor smashing straight into the comet Tempel 1 on July 4th this year. Lucy is a great speaker, modest but impressive role model, and fine scientist. Come listen to her professional & personal experiences in science, while partaking of a light lunch.

Spring 2003 Seminars

May 4: "Canada Leads the US (Again!): Perimeter Institute as Democratic Scientific Model" with Dr. Lee Smolin
Lee Smolin, a leading quantum gravity theorist and author, will talk about his experiences founding and helping to establish the Perimeter Institute (PI) in Waterloo, Ontario in Canada. Its mission is to investigate those problems at the forefront of knowledge which hold the best prospect of major new insights. These include quantum gravity, cosmology, string theory and the quantum information field (including quantum computation, quantum teleportation and quantum communication). As an egalitarian and cooperative institution, the PI not only investigates potentially speculative but immensely interesting and high-payoff issues in theoretical physics, it also pioneers a more democratic governance and operational environment. This combination can be exciting, challenging and sometimes frustrating. Come hear about these topics and the way PI pursues them from an excellent speaker who is a renowned lecturer, best selling author (Life of the Cosmos and Three Paths to Quantum Gravity) and Hampshire College alumnus.

April 24: "Trying to Change Science: The Story of Feminism" with Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller
Come have breakfast with Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller for some opening remarks and a lively and wide-ranging discussion on how feminism must - and does - try to change science studies. Prof. Keller is a leading feminist historian of science and has written several books including Gender & Science and Secrets of Life, Secrets of Death. She sees changing patterns of thinking, ideas of the world, and notions of reality as crucial aims of feminism. As a trained physicist and biologist, and a social analyst of science, she makes the connection to how science must change to fulfill the feminist program.

Spring 2002 Seminars

April 15: "NUCLEAR TERROR: Pakistan & India Under the Nuclear Shadow" with Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy
Dr. Hoodbhoy is a leading nuclear physicist in Pakistan; he is also a most careful and concerned analyst of the danger of nuclear weapons. A friend and colleague of the late Eqbal Ahmad, he has written widely on Islam and the West and on the history of Islamic science. Dr. Hoodbhoy shows his video on the nuclear arms race in India and Pakistan and gives a short talk followed by an open question and answer forum.

March 25: "Native Alaskans, Politics, and Toxic Waste: Environmental Cleanup at Remote Sites" with Dr. Ron Scrudato
The native Yupik people of Alaska's St. Lawrence Island (35 miles from the Russian mainland in the Bering Sea) rely heavily on traditional food sources, which may be contaminated by persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs and DDT from the NORAD Command and Navy sites on the Island.

March 7: "Medicine & the Humanities: Healing with Poetry" with Dr. Rafael Campo
Dr. Rafael Campo "listens to the sounds the body makes, but what he hears is poetry," according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. David Abel in the Boston Globe noted that "Campo himself has long turned to writing as a means of coming to terms with his dual role of living in the mainstream wearing a white coat and being a gay Cuban-American." In this seminar, Dr. Campo reads his own poetry and reflects on the influence the liberal arts had on his training as a doctor.

January 18: "Crisis in Bioethics: Stem Cells,Human Clones and Social Issues" with Dr. Everett Mendelsohn
Stem cells are parts of a human embryo that can turn into any kind of tissue. If produced in the lab, they could provide replacement tissue for bone marrow transplants, organ repair, help for victims of paralysis, and so on. But is it moral to produce embryos - even in very early stages - for the express purpose of repairing another individual?

Remember, recordings of ISIS seminars are available from ISIS. Contact us if you'd like to order any of these outstanding sessions!

Fall 2001 Seminars

This series was co-sponsored by matching grants from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and Hampshire College.

November 8: "YUCCA MOUNTAIN: Nuclear Solution or New Menace?" with Dr. Allison MacFarlane
The leading authority on the safety and policy of nuclear waste disposal discusses the scientific case against long-term disposal at Yucca Mountain and the history of bureaucratic decision-making which is leading to the use of the site anyway.


October 2: "When Did Humans Become Human?" with Dr. Robert Proctor
World-renowned historian of good & evil in science Robert Proctor talks about three reasons anthropologists have decided that our humanity is very recent.


Past Seminar Series

"Sex, Biology and Science Ethics," 2000-2001
"The Future of the Universities and Colleges in American Democracy," 1999-2000
"Scientists and Tough Choices" Spring 1999
"Coding and Decoding Science," Fall 1998
"On the Limits to Knowledge," 1997-1998