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Narratives as Navigation Tools
Workshop organised as a collaboration between the Narrative Science project and The Royal Institution. Please see the bottom of this email for information concerning the 4 PhD travel bursaries we are making available for this event.
March 22nd 2019, at the Royal Institution, London
We anticipate the workshop starting around 10:00 and ending roughly around 18:00
Organised by Dr. Sabine Baier and Prof. Mary S. Morgan
This workshop explores how narratives function as navigation tools in helping scientists create new things with specific purposes, such as making a new drug, a new chemical, a new hybrid plant, a new material, a new set of social categories (and so forth) – cases where novel things must have special characteristics to attain their purpose. Such narratives might work in complement to a scientific community’s theories, hypotheses, and common practices or might cut across them as a way of introducing or justifying novel moves in their scientific research. They may offer efficient decision-making heuristics in the absence of rules that might be determined by theories, or by suggesting or enabling lateral moves, they may offer ways to overcome more rigid rules and practices. Discovery narratives that scientists tell to themselves as they do their work might then have features of the ‘quest’ in overcoming difficulties, or might be ‘picaresque’ and episodic. They might differ between fields, or betray some standard line. And their involvement in the process of navigating to an outcome might differ radically from the post-hoc ‘discovery’ narratives told after a successful outcome. And what happens when those navigational narratives fail to produce the desired outcome?
In the workshop we wish to explore when, and how, narratives are constructed and used to support scientists in making their daily decisions of what to try next. Experts from the scientific communities, as well as historians and philosophers of science, will help us to gain insight into these questions by discussing examples and cases of such navigational narratives. We are grateful to the financial contributions and contributions in kind from the European Research Council, the Collegium Helveticum Zurich, and the Royal Institution.
If you would like to express interest in attending please contact Dr Dominic Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org
The number of places is unfortunately limited, so please make sure to write to us sooner rather than later. The deadline for expression of interest is Friday 11st of March. We will notify those we are able to accommodate shortly thereafter.
Speakers and titles:
Dr. Mat Paskins, LSE London - 'Narratives of Discovering Substitutes'
Dr. Martin Stahl, Hoffmann-La Roche AG Basel, Switzerland - 'What’s the Story? Narratives, Biases and Planning in Contemporary Drug Discovery'
Dr. Rebecca Wilbanks, Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, USA - 'Biotech Futures: Speculative Science and Speculative Fiction in the Birth of Synthetic Biology'
Dr. Sabine Baier, LSE London/ETH Zurich – “I usually go for pretty compounds” – Managing epistemic distances in drug discovery through narratives'
Dr. Cathal Cummins, The University of Edinburgh - 'Go with the flow: how we captured a vortex'
Dr. Miguel Garcia-Sancho, The University of Edinburgh - 'On time, history and expectations: how the narration of the past shapes the future of contemporary biomedicine'
Dr. Karen Polizzi, Imperial College London - 'Cyclical design of the engineering design cycle'
PhD travel bursaries
To increase participation from the postgraduate community, we are making available 4 travel bursaries, each of a maximum of £250. These can be used to recover the cost of train or airfare for those who wish to attend, and who are currently enrolled on a PhD programme, preferably with research interests directly related to the workshop agenda.
To apply for a PhD travel bursary please write to Dr Dominic Berry:email@example.com
PhD Programme and thesis title
And no more than 100 words on how this workshop relates to your research.
The deadline for applications to the travel bursary is Friday 11st of March.
You will be notified as to the outcome of your application shortly thereafter. Applicants will be selected to ensure a diverse range of research interests and institutions are represented.