UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Archive of STS News

<< 2013 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2015 >>

Prof Agar on Science and WW1

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Professor Jon Agar's UCL Lunch Hour Lecture, "Science and the First World War," delivered 26 June 2014 is now available for viewing (LHL site).

Farewell Jo Pearson

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STS announces the departure of Ms Jo Pearson, our academic administrator. She is taking up a post elsewhere in UCL, in Department of Medical Physics and biomedical Engineering. Jo joined STS in January 2009. She leaves STS at the end of August 2014.

Two STS staff promoted

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UCL senior promotions have been announced (here).

Undergraduate Prizes 2014

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The Department of Science & Technology Studies is delighted to announce the following prize-winners for the 2013/14 academic year. Congratulations to all!

Awe Fear and Fireworks

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For the Fourth of July, Simon Werrett writes in the New York Daily News on how emotional reactions to fireworks displays have changed over the centuries:


STS Contributes to Science Policy

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What Role Can Social Media Play In Science Policy?

Last week saw UCL Science and Technology Studies host the first in a series of new events run in association with the Guardian Science Policy Blogs.  The event – a discussion on the topic of ‘what role can social media play in science policy?’ – fought off stiff competition from football (Germany vs Portugal) to attract a sizeable audience from across academic, media, and public sectors.  The intention was to provide a discussion based in empirical experience of social media and science policy.  The first two speakers therefore provided us with the stories behind two significant events on this topic.  Síle Lane, Director of Campaigns at Sense about Science, opened with the Libel Reform campaign of 2009-2013.  Social media was used initially to connect groups who shared concerns about risks of defamation – writers and celebrities, as well as scientists – into an online voice for libel reform.  Building on this, campaigners then used social media to attract over 60,000 signatories to a petition, as well to disseminate pro-libel reform arguments, activities, and stories.  Síle was followed by Jenny Rohn, a cell biologist at UCL and founder of Science is Vital.  This group originated in 2010 with a blog post from Jenny in response to threatened science budget cuts.  With only four weeks to act social media was essential to acquire rapid support for a petition and a ‘No More Doctor Nice Guy’ rally.  Despite the different aims and timescales of the two campaigns, there were a great many common features.  Both noted the importance of social media to reach a very diverse range of people extremely quickly, and in making connections between interested parties (including politicians) easy to create – even if just in the form of useful links.  But both also noted the importance of offline activities: Sense About Science worked with the mantra ‘a hashtag is not a campaign’ to encourage supporters to write letters to MPs and keep spreading word-of-mouth information; Science is Vital were careful to maintain links with traditional media outlets.  This portion of discussion also ended with a cautious note about ‘petition fatigue’ – when social media makes campaigning easier, any single campaign risks getting lost in the noise.

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