2014 Special Focus: The Identities of Science

Science has traditionally been characterized by empiricism, objectivity, and a productive autonomy from the social world. While these remain important elements of modern scientific methods and practice, science’s ability to remain independent of human agendas and values is increasingly being challenged. This year’s theme, the Identities of Science, draws attention to the social, political, and economic forces that underwrite, motivate, and direct the nature of the scientific endeavor.


Theme 1: The Values and Politics of Science

Connecting the natural-empirical focus of science with human interests.

  • What are the core values of science?
  • Socially engaged, responsible, accountable science
  • The ethics of science and the values of scientists
  • Academic freedom, research integrity and social responsibility
  • Specific ethical issues: bioethics, medical ethics, environmental ethics
  • Human and animal subjects in scientific research
  • Science and religion
  • Diversity in science: negotiating paradigms and ideological divergence
  • The politics of science
  • Government in science: policy, politics, lobbying, funding
  • Public accountability for science: why, how and to what effect?
  • Who are the stakeholders of science?
  • Public communication of science
  • Science and ‘controversy’: politics and ideology in ‘truth’ claims

Keywords: Science, Values, Accountability, Ethics, Diversity, Politics, Government, Stakeholders, Public Communications, Controversy


Theme 2: The Social Impacts and Economics of Science

On the social translation of science, and its economic impacts.

  • Applied and basic science: what are the connections?
  • From science to technology: concepts, methods, practices
  • Design practices: putting science to work
  • Science in the service of the social: the processes of problem definition and problem solving
  • Science that changes the world: how do we address the key challenges of our times – sustainability, climate change, health, poverty?
  • Social-systematic biases in science? Gender, class, race, ethnicity and disability in science
  • The natural-physical and the social: what is the distinction?
  • The economics of science
  • Returns on public investment in science
  • Science in the ‘knowledge economy’
  • Science and ‘innovation’
  • The globalization of science
  • National competitiveness and scientific league tables
  • Measuring scientific outputs
  • Selling science: markets for scientific knowledge
  • Private science: science as a business
  • Intellectual capital: measuring the value of science
  • History and philosophy of science

Keywords: Science, Basic Science, Applied Science, Technology, Design, Sustainability, Economics, Innovation, Intellectual Capital


Theme 3: The Knowledge Systems and Pedagogies of Science

On the epistemologies and methods of science, and their learning.

  • The knowledge systems of science
  • Social perspective and objectivity in science
  • Communicating discovery: publishing in the scientific community
  • The social moderation and validation of science: changing systems and processes of peer review
  • Scientific paradigms and social ideologies
  • Indigenous, traditional and popular science
  • The social in science work: teams, collaborations, disciplinary and cross-disciplinary groupings
  • Sites of scientific work: new and emerging sites of knowledge production
  • Modes of knowledge dissemination: traditional, electronic and open access publication channels
  • Modes of knowledge synthesis: data mining, disaggregation and reaggregation.
  • User-focused science and participatory research
  • Interdisciplinary practices across social and physical sciences
  • Science pedagogies: alternative approaches
  • Science at school: how children learn the values, practices and content knowledge of science
  • Education and miseducation: controversies and ‘balance’ in science curricula
  • Science apprenticeships: technical, professional, university and postgraduate education in science
  • Community education in science: connecting lay and expert discourses through the media, museums and the public culture
  • Science learning and teaching in popular media

Keywords: Science, Knowledge, Epistemology, Paradigms, Communication, Pedagogy, Education.


Presentations at the conference, as well as the journals and books created in this knowledge community, are grouped around the themes listed here. Submissions are welcomed that cross more than one thematic area. Keywords are only indicative - please add your own keywords as you think necessary. The range of ideas listed in each thematic grouping and associated keywords is continually reviewed and revised by the participants in this knowledge community. Please suggest additions and changes.