History and Philosophy of Science (L)
Minutes of the 2005 Section L Business Meeting
Section L Business Meeting,
AAAS Annual Meeting, February 18, 2005
Following introductions, Philip Sloan, Chair, announced the election results and new Fellows. The Chair-Elect will be Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis and the new Member-at Large will be Bruce Lewenstein. Mary Jo Nye and Philip J. Pauly are the new members of the Electorate Nominating Committee. The 2004 Section L Fellows inducted at the 2005 meeting are Brian Skyrms and Jeffrey Sturchio. The Chair was asked to convey a letter of congratulations to the newly-elected Fellows.
The Secretary, Jonathan Coopersmith, reported that the 2005 budget account balance is $3843 ($1250 in new money and $2593 in rollover). Due to new accounting procedures, the section must use all that money by 2007 and afterward the sections will operate on a use-it-or-lose-it policy. The AAAS staff has also established a new procedure for determining section income of approximately $100 per 1000 primary members.
The Chair introduced as guest presenter Dr. Ronald Rainger, the new head of the NSF Science-Technology-Society (STS) Program.
Rainger began with a brief description of the programs the STS section of NSF supports of relevance to Section L. These include individual scholars awards (9 month plus three summers), Collaborative Research projects, the pre-doctoral grants for improving dissertations, small grants for training and research, and support for conferences and workshops. He urged the Section to consult the NSF website for details on these programs.
He then described the new developments at NSF. For the first time, the Administration cut the NSF budget by approximately $100 million. In anticipation of these cuts the STS section set aside 3% from prior budgets to cover this reduction. The STS budget is $3.5M this fiscal year of which $1.8M went to awards.
The awards are judged by panels in the fall (August 1 deadline) and the spring (February 1 deadline). Rainger has increased the review panelists from eight to nine so that each community (history, philosophy and sociology) will have three representatives. The fall 2004 meeting evaluated 93 proposals (42 history of science and technology, 39 social studies of science, and 12 philosophy of science) and approved spending $940,000 on nine fourteen STS independent scholars awards and nine twelve predoctoral dissertation awards to graduate students for a success rate of 20%, which is normal. Cuts enabled the number of funded projects to increase to fourteen of each, with a greater diverse distribution of awards. The spring round should have more applicants (over 100 expected).
One concern expressed by Rainger was the small number of philosophy of science proposals submitted, especially for graduate student awards. In the final distribution of individual scholar awards, 11 were in the history of science and 2 in philosophy of science. For predoctoral dissertation awards, 6 were in history of science, 7 in the social studies of science, and 0 in philosophy of science.
An unexpected development adversely affected a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) initiative. Long in planning, the proposal had to be peer-reviewed and fared poorly. The proposal may be rewritten, using a workshop to re-launch the effort. Six colleges and universities would try to develop STS studies at the undergraduate level under this program.
In a major NSF reorganization, the STS program will merge with the Social Dimensions of Engineering, Science and Technology (SDEST) program, headed by Rachelle Hollander (which also has a budget of $3.5M) into a new division, Science and Society. It will have a permanent director with the current STS and the SDEST programs functioning as two separate divisions. The consequences and rationale are mainly administrative: A permanent program officer will be above the rotating division heads, providing more stability. Furthermore, the change should provide greater visibility within and possibly greater funding from other parts of NSF. The component programs and advisory panels will be kept discrete. One concern discussed by Rainger was the division’s title. The change is not an effort to promote Big Science and group-oriented research, rather than grants to individual scholars, nor is the philosophy of science in danger of merging with the ethics and values panel. The four main emphases of the STS program (history of science, sociology of science, philosophy of science, ethics and values) will remain. The new unit will, however, have some greater overall competition for funds, with greater visibility for programs emphasizing engineering and society.
NSF, via the four societies (HSS, SHOT, PSA, and SSS) consortium, funds junior scholars and graduate students giving papers at annual meetings. In response to questions, Rainger said this funding would not apply to presentations at the AAAS meeting. Suggestions were made about inquiring if the societies would fund presenters at the AAAS and if the NSF might fund a similar project for AAAS presentations.
The Chair then introduced Amy Crumpton of the AAAS who discussed the AAAS archives. This encompasses 4200 linear feet of archives, one-third of which is on site at the AAAS office in Washington. In the last year she has increased the on-line finding aids (archives.aaas.org) to nearly a dozen. The website will be in in compliance with the digital library community (SAA, Library of Congress, &c.). This effort is a good way of increasing contacts with similarly situated small archives. Of the archives’ 4200 linear feet, 10% are processed fully and 1-2% have electronic aids. One possibility of increasing the processing rate might be to secure an NSF grant to provide archival training experience to undergraduates. Jane Maienschein reported that one undergraduate had done work in the AAAS archives under such a program. Another possibility might be to work with the University of Maryland.
A brief discussion of Section L interests in the journal Science followed. The Chair commented on the lack of substantial articles by historians and philosophers of science of the kind that once appeared in the journal. One possible reason for the lack of HPS articles in Science might be a flawed review process. Stephen Brush commented that because there is no historian of science or technology on the Science board, relevant articles are not being considered appropriately. Jane Maienschein noted that Mildred Choate, the science and society area reviewer for Science, often received inappropriate papers. Sloan will draft a letter to the Science editor, strongly arguing why the journal’s readers should read more HPS and appealing for editorial review by individuals competent to judge articles from Section L interests.
President-elect Gil Omenn paid an unscheduled visit to the Section to convey his vision of the society and to learn more about Section L. This was the first such appearance of the President at a Section L meeting in the memory of the board. He talked about the importance of sections nominating plenary and topical speakers, organizing panels, sections, and electing fellows. He envisioned the 2006 conference to have compelling themes and titles, oriented around the theme of “grand challenges and opportunities.” He outlined three levels of emphasis of relevance to Section L: 1) within a discipline (citing the example of the work of mathematician David Hilbert and his impact on subsequent mathematics); 2) interdisciplinarily linking across disciplines; and 3) addressing societal challenges, dealing with such issues as the polarization that has developed between scientific and other ways of thinking. He mentioned recent statistics on the rejection of evolutionary theory by 55% of the American public.
When asked about the Science question, he responded by asking what will Science look like in ten years? He encouraged the Section to think about options, such as web publishing within AAAS.
Sally Kohlstedt, the liaison between Section L and the AAAS unit, Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DOSER), described the many activities of DOSER. Commenting, President Ommen remarked how much is riding on more effective communication between the scientific community and the public. Kohlstedt drew attention to the resources on the web prepared by the DOSER unit, such as documents dealing with evolution and creation issues.
The discussion with President Omenn then turned to the topic of Science. He was sympathetic to the concern to have people appointed to the editorial staff who understood the interests of Section L. To gain a higher profile, Maienschein suggested that we try to get stories about important HPS developments in the news section of Science. Another possibility is for affiliate societies to issue (or receive?) press releases of AAAS sessions. As always, key questions to remember are: What is important about what we are doing? How do we publicize it? Omenn commented that Section L can be a resource for other sections on HPS issues. He urged the officers to look for programs at the Planning Meeting on 2/20 to advise or collaborate with. He urged us to think of panel discussion formats with 15-minute presentations as one approach. Maienschein, however, pointed out that panels with six speakers have typically been rejected in the past.
Following the departure of President Omenn, discussion turned to improving the selection process for new Fellows. To publicize the new Fellows, it was suggested the Section send a press release to the Fellows primary society and to their home university. If the Section learns that a fellow has dropped his or her membership, a letter should be sent, urging rejoining the AAAS.
To encourage the involvement of new Fellows, the Section Chair will send a letter congratulating them and encouraging them to attend the annual meeting. A motion was made and approved to ask fellows if they needed assistance in paying the registration fee, tactfully allowing them an opportunity to decline.
Sarton lecture. A brief discussion was held on the means of selection of the Sarton lecturer. The lecturer should be an effective speaker and should be briefed about the nature of the audience. The selection is made by the executive committee of the History of Science Society. To a suggestion that there might be more coordination of the selection of this lecturer with the AAAS, the answer was that this would be undesirable since the Sarton lecture is one of the very few AAAS events that still allows autonomy to the affiliate societies.
Discussion then turned to possible sessions for 2006. These ideas will be communicated to the Chair and a preliminary presentation of Section L ideas will be made at the Planning session on 2/20.
Discussion then turned to ways the Section can encourage undergraduate students to participate in conferences. Maienschein commented that urging undergraduates to volunteer to be Section Aids can provide support. If such students serves eight hours as a section aide, they receive free admission to the conference. Another eight hours gives them a free year of Science. The Section can inform program speakers and HPS faculty near future conferences about volunteering as chaperones for student groups from their institutions, thus reducing their registration fees. The person to contact is ???
Another way to encourage participation by both undergraduates and graduate students is through poster sessions. A motion was made and approved to provide appropriate support (up to $300) to assist graduate students and undergraduates to present posters at the 2006 session. Sloan will ask NSF about the possibility of support. The ideal would be to obtain a $5,000 grant from NSF to jump-start this program.
The Bern Dibner Institute, currently at MIT, is looking for a new home. Approximately twenty-five bids are currently out for this institute. The discussion concluded that rather than Section L endorsing any particular bid, there should be an expression of interest communicated by the Section Chair to the Dibner family through director George Smith concerning our support for the fine work of the Dibner Institute and our interest in collaborating with whomever makes the successful bid.
Ed Langdon of the United States Geological Survey then expressed his interest in developing greater contacts between geologists and historians of science. He indicated that he would communicate a proposal for joint sponsorship to the 2006 meeting. Summary of specific actions:
- Section Chair (in office as of 2/19)
- letter to new fellows
- letter to Dibner institute
- letter to Editor of Science
- letter to NSF for support for undergraduate students
- Section Secretary
- inform HSS, PSA, SSSS and SHOT about the main topic of the 2006 meeting and the nature of the audience.
- send a press release to the appropriate societies and universities when new fellows are announced (or ask the AAAS press office to do this)
- Douglas Allchin, University of Minnesota
- John Beatty, University of British Columbia
- Jonathan Coopersmith, Texas A&M University
- Amy Crumpton, AAAS
- JT (Tom) Dutro, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution
- John Gardenier
- Turkan Gardenier
- Margot Iverson, University of Minnesota
- Maria Ignacia Klopf, Georgetown University
- Sally Gregor Kohlshedt, University of Minnesota
- Frank Laird, University of Denver
- Edward Landa, U. S. Geological Survey, Reston,
- Bruce Lewenstein, Cornell University
- Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University
- Gen McCoy, University of Washington, Bothell
- Mia McNulty, Arizona State University
- G. Arthur Mihram, Princeton, NJ
- Danielle, Mihram, University of Southern California
- Jim Miller, AAAS
- Philip Pauly, Rutgers University
- Ron Rainger, NSF
- Jason Robert, Arizona State University
- Mandana Sassanfar, MIT
- Phil Sloan, University of Notre Dame
- Rosemary Stevens, University of Pennsylvania