Knowledge Integration Seminar: Trans-science and the Limits of DisciplinarityExport this event to calendar

Friday, February 26, 2016 — 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM EST

Speaker: Dr. Ashley Rose Kelly

Alvin M. Weinberg, a nuclear physicist who spent most of his life working at Oak Ridge National Lab, published “Science and Trans-Science” in the journal Minerva, then coining the term “trans-science.” In 1992 he followed up this work with a book, entitled Nuclear Reactions: Science and Trans-science, devoted to the issues he had raised decades earlier. In these works the idea of trans-science describes difficult interactions among science, technology, and society, when we pose questions that have a factual scientific answer, but yet that science cannot answer. Put in Weinberg’s own terms, trans-scientific describes questions that are within the epistemological domain of science and are “questions of fact and can be stated in the language of science,” but they are also “unanswerable by science; they transcend science” (1972, 209).

Adopting Weinberg’s term, I will talk about “trans-scientific” genres. Trans-scientific genres are premised on the idea that norms in academic and scientific publishing have remained relatively stable for several decades. Now, however, as a result of technical innovation and financial necessity, researchers are turning to alternative models of publishing and fundraising. To productively understand these changes, we might characterize these emerging practices and genres as “trans-scientific”—that is, genres that remain outside of, but are aligned with, scientific practice. Put another way, these genres may use the language of science, they may discuss matters of scientific fact in that language, but they also transcend sanctioned scientific discourse. Examples of these genres include crowdfunding proposals, open notebooks, open databases, and blogging. This talk considers the complex discursive landscape that scientists and science communicators currently navigate in their efforts to fund research and to communicate findings to interested parties, while at the same time documenting the successful strategies employed therein.

Dr. Ashley Rose Kelly is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. She was previously a faculty in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. Kelly’s research examines how science communication is changing with new—especially networked—technologies and also with different communities becoming involved in scientific research and policy-making. Her research is especially concerned with public participation in scientific research (citizen science), expertise and ethos in grassroots scientific research, expertise and expert networks, and biohacking and hacker participation in scientific research. Her work has appeared in the journals Communication Monographs, Environmental Communication, First Monday, Rhetorica, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, POROI, and others.

Location 
AL - Arts Lecture Hall
room 113

Waterloo,
Canada

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