History and Philosophy of Science (L)
Minutes of the 2009 Section L Business Meeting
Section L Business Meeting,
AAAS Annual Meeting
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Hyatt Regency Chicago, Horner
9 a.m. to noon
Barbara Rice and Cassandra Jones attended the meeting. Tom Nickles asked about the best way of planning sessions. Phil Sloan suggested new officers attend the Sunday session planning session to meet other section officers for collaboration.
Among the issues raised by the section were:
- an inability to state if a session was endorsed or the result of cooperating with other sections
- the Program Committee should have as a member at least one person who deals with consequences of science as well as the science itself.
- a sense that the Program Committee was not sending proposals to the best qualified reviewers.
Rice said that there were some areas that they definitely needed specialists on, but that the Committee was dependent on the reviewers. The Program committee tried to link the right reviewers for the reviews. Most of the reviewers are section officers.
Rice stated that the collaboration site was built at request of sections. Proposals faced immediate rejection if they were incomplete (e.g., speakers were listed as “to be announced” or the content section was empty). The central office has sent acceptance notices directly to speakers and in several cases the speakers had not known they were invited.
The difference between listing speakers as invited or confirmed really matters only if two strong proposals are contending.
The Program committee decides in July about sessions and take a liberal view on conditional acceptances. If the changes are not done by September, the sessions are rejected. One continuing problem is confirming speakers. Scheduling conflicts are usually caused by speakers who are only available on certain days.
In theory, the new software will eliminate many problems caused by the existing software, a program that Alan Leshner stated in the officers' meeting was a big and costly mistake. The old database was by a leading firm but too paper-oriented and also suffered from high turnover in the staff dealing with AAAS. A particular problem last year was the truncation of many messages.
The new database will enable sections to convey what sessions are important. The new system can be upgraded. Bruce Lewenstein will represent the section in testing and suggesting improvements.
The number of sessions has held steady at 145-150 and the acceptance rate at around 50%. There are no data on what percent of applications are incomplete and automatically rejected. The justification for the 180-minute sessions has raised their acceptance rate to 40-45%, which Rice considered a good balance. Balance for the Program committee also means a mix of topics.
Supporting a session means a section will provide financial assistance. Designating an interest in a session means the section is telling its members that it should be of interest to them.
Last year, Biological Sciences was so concerned about the lack of biology that they actively worked with organizers to ensure proposals were complete and then submitted a letter to the Program committee explaining why their proposals were so important. The effort paid off.
The submission site has reminders and other information, though it may not be organized ideally. Organizers and participants need to pay more attention.
Rice wants to ensure the program stays fresh. The extra space in San Diego, for example, may enable posters and sessions to be in the same room. Another possibility is building up the poster sessions, though that will require more staff. Lewenstein noted that some conferences suggest that weak papers or sessions become posters, a direction Rice would like to move. Other possibilities include a breakthroughs on science track, more structured interactions, networking opportunities and informal discussions (like science cafes). Suggestions are more than welcome.
A fall survey of 70,000 AAAS members about the annual meeting (10% response) has been received but not digested by the central office.
The minutes were approved.
2009 Sarton Memorial Lecture, Sunday, February 17, 12:30pm - 1:15pm
Ken Alder, Northwestern University, “A History of the International Scientific Conference”
2009 Section sessions,
090-009. “Drake's Well to Solar Cells: 150 Years of Energy Transitions,” organized by Audra Wolfe
Saturday, 8.30 (note conflict with this meeting)
180-044. “How Telescopes Made the Earth a Planet: 400 Years After Galileo,” organized by Virginia Trimble, David DeVorkin, and Saeqa D Vrtilek
180-019. “Celebrating Darwin at 200: Explaining How Human Morality Evolved,” organized by Douglas Allchin
selected for a press briefing
The Section will soon have a webpage
Incoming officersChair Elect: Richard Creath
Member-at-Large of the Section Committee: Heather E. Douglas
Electorate Nominating Committee: Nancy J. Nersessian, Alain Touwaide
Section L representative to the Council: Virginia Trimble
Jim Fleming, the new head of the nominating committee asked people to suggest good candidates for the next elections of chair and member at large, and told people to be free to nominate themselves.
The Secretary will report to the central office that several people did not get ballots and others only after asking (and in at least one case asked but did not receive).
The Section congratulated the new Fellows
Angela Creager, Princeton University: For distinguished contributions to the field of the history of the life sciences, to AAAS, and to history of science organizations.
Richard Creath, Arizona State University: For achievements in archiving and interpreting key documents in the historical development of scientific philosophy and demonstrating their relevance to current problems.
David H. DeVorkin, National Air and Space Museum: For distinguished scholarship, leadership, and advancement of public understanding of the history of astronomy and space science.
Alain Touwaide, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: For distinguished contributions to understanding of ancient, medieval and early modern roots of the modern life sciences and especially for all that followed from knowledge of plants in antiquity.
The base budget for the Section is $2100 plus a rollover of $2100. A section may roll over a balance from the previous year of up to the current year's base budget. This $4200 gives the Section the opportunity to support travel by session speakers and possibly subsidizing graduate students.
The Section will consider offering graduate students a meeting package subsidy. One challenge will be to identify students, possibly by contacting the newly formed HSS graduate caucus and identifying students close to San Diego.
The Sections spending priorities are
- supporting speakers
- bringing in new people with priority to graduate students.
To encourage grad students to submit poster proposal and apply for funding support, the section will offer to pay for poster printing and some expenses. Students will be encouraged to serve as session aides, which provides free admission.
Virginia Trimble offered to donate money for the section to ensure graduate students could attend. The Section will check AAAS procedures.
Bruce Lewenstein, Jay Malone, and Jane Mainschien will coordinate a poster effort. The unofficial goal is 22 student posters in San Diego.
Announcements from officers’ meeting
A clear theme from the section officers was the need for better communication and information from the central office. Specific challenges included a calendar of deadlines and information for new officers who found themselves suddenly immersed in a world of emails.
The section officers raised several issues about sessions and general relations between the central office and sections. One major sticking point, the desire of sections to have at least one session accepted, appeared to be realized Sunday when the Council approved a resolution to that effect.
Because the AAAS endowment operates on a three-year cycle, the financial meltdown has not adversely affected the association this year. Next year will bring a budget crunch.
Sections have four main functions:
- nominating fellows
- proposing sessions
- nominating people for advisory committees
- recruiting people from their disciplines to join AAAS
L had a serious problem when a very multidisciplinary proposal was initially rejected because it was not multidisciplinary enough. This session was ultimately accepted, selected for a press conference, and received significant media attention. Another proposal on Bayesian networks was rejected due to allegedly missing deadlines, a problem caused, apparently by the session software that will be replaced soon.
Bruce Lewenstein said that Section X, Societal Impacts of Science and Engineering, with a budget of $2300 collaborated on 14 sessions this year. Chemistry is supporting only one session and has a budget of $17,000. The question was raised whether section budgets should reflect the number of sessions supported and not members.
The Section will write a letter to Bruce Alberts, editor of Science, to commend Sherman Suter for his work on book reviews and to reinforce the importance of HPS.
Increasing AAAS presence (and membership) in HSS, PSA, SHOT, 4S, and other affiliated organizations.
There is not much overlap between HSS and L members, while half of all AAAS members do not belong to sections. To increase awareness of L, the Section should place a notice in newsletters asking if people subscribe to Science and, if so, ask them to join the Section.
Another possibility is to offer reduced rates for joining AAAS. Grad students and postdocs can join for $50 a year.
The secretary will send summaries of accepted sessions to the HSS newsletter to publicize Section L activities.
February 18-22, 2010 Annual Meeting in San Diego
Sarton Memorial lecturer: Jed Buchwald of Cal Tech
The 2010 meeting theme is “Bridging Science and Society [which] calls on every scientist and engineer to make their work both useful and understandable, and on society to discover again the excitement and hope that research and its findings offer.” The proposal submission site can be accessed at www.aaas.org/meetings. The submission deadline is April 28, 2009.
To improve the acceptance rate, the chair will write a letter to the Program committee explaining the importance of the proposed sessions. Section officers should also review proposals for completeness.
Could the section work more effectively with other sections? Was there a good way of offering historical and philosophical perspective on topics? For example, this year’s sessions had many speakers on science policy but no historians. Improving officer-to-officer communications is probably the best way of doing this.
Sessions should consider goals important to the AAAS, such as outreach and international cooperation.
Ideas for 2010 sessions included:
50th anniversary of the National Center for Atmospheric Research: a history of atmospheric research and a look forward.
Possible speakers and themes:
Marc Rothenberg on NCAR funding
Stuart Leslie, NCAR and network architecture
David Devorkin, space research and the “standard atmosphere”
NCAR speakers on the future
Judith Lean, speace weather
Roger Revel, history of Scripps
Marc Freedman on numerical equations
Organizer: Jim Fleming in cooperation with Section W and Guy Brasseur
the concept of the observatory in culture
Considering the importance of southern California to astronomy, this might be an excellent topic for San Diego.
David Devorkin and the Astronomy section are interested.
Possible speakers and themes: architecture, sanctified spaces
Jill Tarter, Nancy Morrison
how is the history and philosophy of science communicated internationally?
Themes and speakers: feedback on celebrating science, how was Darwin celebrated in 2009 and how was the anniversary received
Fern Elsdon-Baker (the British Council is sponsoring a traveling Darwin exhibition)
“Youtube, Twitter, and other user-generated science information”
Brian Smith, learning through interactive games
James Gee and Henry Jenkins, learning from games
Josh Greenberg, digital strategies
politically relevant philosophy of science.
This would be based on the recent mini-conference hosted by the American Philosophical Association with Nancy Cartwright on philosophy of science values in the West. Sociologists would participate too.
philosophy of bent science: “Unbending bent science”
Naomi Oreskes, Wendy Wagner
need a regulator
how have stimulus packages in the history of science and technology worked in the past?
Possibly combine with an overview of the Obama package in action.
Themes: National Defense Education Act, Sputnik, interstate highway system, EU research programs, Japanese or Korean plans
nature of technological knowledge
themes: technology as practice, evolutionary economics (Richard Nelson)
history of state-federal government S&T policy relations
themes: stem cell research, environment policy
Arthur Mihram, Section X, Ray Spear
At the planning meeting on Sunday, other sections proposed sessions that could include a HPS component
assisted reproductive technology
unity of life
failure of risk assessment (especially in economics)
trials and political knowledge
learning and informal environments
50th anniversary of the laser
building a technological work force
changing role of education
role of TE in STEM
observatories in culture
AAAS Archives update (Jonathan Coopersmith for Amy Crumpton) The Secretary will write a letter commending Amy Crumpton for her excellent work in preserving archives and doing outreach.
The 2010 Fellows nomination process will begin in late February. The deadline to send applications to the Section Secretary is March 23.
New business. Michele Aldrich announced the California Academy of Science will hold a symposium on Darwin in mid-August. For more information, see www.calacademy.org/darwin.
A move to adjourn was approved at 11:30 a.m.
Jonathan Coopersmith, Secretary
Thomas Nickles, Chair,
University of Nevada, Reno
Alan Rocke, Chair-elect,
Case Western Reserve University
Richard Creath, Chair-elect-elect,
Arizona State University
Douglas Allchin, Member-at-Large,
University of Minnesota
Virginia Trimble, Council-elect,
Jonathan Coopersmith, Section Secretary;
Texas A&M University/Tokyo Institute of Technology
California Academy of Science
University de Paris - Sorbonne et ENS
University of Exeter
J. Scott Hauger,
Astrobiology Research Trust
Arizona State University
History of Science Society
- G. Arthur Mihram, email@example.com
- Sara Miles, Smiles303@wi.rr.com
University of Notre Dame
Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory