Value And Values In Science, Technology And Innovation Studies

On 17th and 18th April, academics and postgraduate researchers (PGRs) met at Edinburgh University for a symposium organised by the Scottish and White Rose Consortia. On the first day, experienced researchers presented their current work to the group. The second day was focused on training Science, Technology and Innovation PGRs to draw together different approaches to studying value(s) and develop ideas for investigating and analysing findings. Discussions included the way finance, businesses and universities are shaped by value systems and how medical research is altered by prioritising different qualities.

The first day was made up of three sessions with Donald Mackenzie, Neil Pollock, David Tyfield, Anne Kerr, Francis Lee, James Mittra, Kean Birch and Nik Brown’s presenting recent and current research. At the end of each session the presenters sat as a panel and took questions. The second day involved three discussion sessions using specific papers to start conversations on values, performativity and methodologies. Groups of five PGRs were joined by pairs of academics from the first day. Students’ interests ranged from the carbon-capture to business modelling, private genetic-testing companies to data-protection implications on research design.

From my conversations with others, the invitation to be part of a research event cross-fertilisation between PhD students was really well received. After the ice was broken, PGRs made insightful comments on investigating understandings of (e)valuation. It provided an excellent opportunity to apply frameworks and think through other people’s work as well as our own research. Students represented the Scottish, North West and White Rose Consortia, the Open University and other institutions.

There appeared to be mutual consensus that a sociology of valuation and evaluation could yield new and interesting understandings and research. Next year, the White Rose Consortium will host a return research and training event.