A centre, which pioneered research into how scientific advances can impact on society, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The University’s Science Studies Unit – also known as the Edinburgh School – provided insight into the ways that science and society are influenced by one another.
A programme of events has been organised this week and throughout the year to reflect on the group’s achievements and consider what the future holds for the field.
The Science Studies Unit was founded by the late researcher David Edge in 1966, who recruited a team of experts from a range of disciplines to form the centre.
One of the Unit’s main aims was to investigate the ways in which science and technology shape society, and – in turn – how society influences scientific developments.
These questions are still being explored today, as academics study scientific knowledge and practices – related to issues such as climate change, IT and social media, and advances in medical technologies – placing them in a wider social context and examining their financial, political and ethical implications.
The Science Studies Unit became known worldwide as a centre of excellence for the study of the sociology of scientific knowledge and the history of science and medicine. It was one of the foundational units that formed the present day Science, Technology and Innovation Studies group, which has continued to build on the Unit’s research and teaching traditions.
The 50th anniversary of the Science Studies Unit poses an exciting opportunity to review the history of our field and meet up with many of the key players involved in establishing our new discipline. The celebrations will offer a fantastic chance to not only reflect upon the past, but also to look forwards and consider the future of the field.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Studies group has developed a new undergraduate course, continuing the Science Studies Unit’s tradition of providing science and engineering students with a well-rounded perspective as part of their university education.
The Responsible Researcher course explores the idea that every scientist needs to engage with broader issues surrounding their research.
The programme encourages students to consider why scientific research focuses on answering certain questions over others, the possible risks involved and the real-life applications of research.