CFP: Institutions and the Scientific Research Agenda

Submission deadline: November 20, 2021

Conference date(s):
April 8, 2022 - April 10, 2022

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, United States

Topic areas


Which scientific research gets pursued, and the details of how it gets pursued, is greatly influenced by the institutional structures which support science.  By institutions, we mean those established social structures that direct resources (of various kinds, from money to intellectual property to ethical approval to jobs) for science.  Key institutions for shaping the scientific research agenda include universities, funding agencies, publishers, and patent offices.  This workshop will focus on what these institutions should be aiming to do and how should they do it.  These questions require addressing the public accountability for scientific research efforts in democratic societies, ideals of scientific freedom, and ways in which science can support or undermine the public good.  Answering these questions is made particularly challenging because of the contested nature of the public good in pluralist societies, the difficulty institutions have with nuance and qualitative evaluation, and the tensions around freedom and responsibility in science.  This workshop will bring together perspectives on these issues for robust discussion, with the aim of helping to understand how we need to shift the social contract for science in the 21st century.

Keynote speakers:

David Guston (ASU)

Shobita Parthasarathy (U Michigan)

Carlos Santana (Utah)

Alison Wylie (UBC)

We are soliciting proposals for additional participants in the workshop (including possible virtual participation). Please submit titles and abstracts of 750-1000 words (both anonymized and not anonymized) addressing the theme of the workshop by Nov. 20, 2021 to the email:  [email protected]

Program committee

Heather Douglas (Senior Visiting Fellow, Center for Philosophy of Science)

Edouard Machery (Director, Center for Philosophy of Science)

Sandy Mitchell (HPS, University of Pittsburgh)

Dana Matthiessen (HPS, University of Pittsburgh)

Questions to be addressed include:

·       How should funding agencies encourage or incentivize scientific research, particularly research geared towards producing public good with public funds?

·       What mechanisms for funding evaluation should institutions use?

·       How should universities structure evaluation and support for academic researchers?  Which aims should be central to these considerations?

·       How should research ethics oversight and/or consultations be conducted?

·       What impact does publishing have on the research agenda, and what role should publishing have?

·       What role should patents play in both incentivizing research and in research evaluation? 

Supporting material

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