NGDI Congratulates Raquel on her Killam Scholarship and continued work and support for NGDI.
Ongoing research on methods for engaged Science and Technology Studies scholarship
The work that I am engaged in could be described, at one level, as that of sorting out my methodologies of choice as I develop my approach to scholarship. I know I seek to be a scholar whose work contributes to issue-amelioration – but finding and developing methods for doing so is a process. Currently, I am experimenting with elements and degrees of auto/ethnography, and I am exploring the various ways in which rhetorical theory and analysis can anchor and structure my approach to inquiry. Critically, I am also learning how to adapt my work to appropriate venues for communication – and this sometimes means engaging with my scholarly methods in a modified, and maybe even distant or implicit way. I’m also learning how to go about working with partners in scientific, technical and medical fields who may not initially be aware of what humanities research has to offer to these fields, due to the forces of epistemological and disciplinary divisions. Finally, I am learning how to conceive of goals for a project’s outcome; this involves learning to design multi-stage projects that are productive towards a concrete goal.
What Aspect of Your Graduate Program do You Enjoy the Most or are Looking Forward to With the Greatest Curiosity?
Within the community of Science and Technology Studies scholars and students here, there is an emerging interest in “making and doing” things with one’s STS research. Professor Alan Richardson’s “Public Engagement with Science” course took up such themes. The course has been over for a long time, but many class members still meet weekly. We have formed an ongoing project we call “Critical Digital Exhibits”. Together, we are making virtual art exhibits that explore certain practices in public science education. This special form our projects take is meant to facilitate the communication of our ideas with community partners and related publics. Our core team members are Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Shoshana Deutsh, Jordan Howell, Adrian Liu, Alan Richardson, and me. We have collaborators across the campus community, and support from the Centre for Community Engaged Learning. The project has become something we are all excited about.
What is it Specifically, That Your Program Offers, That Attracted You?
I am interested in the possibility of using language as a way of understanding, analyzing – and even as a starting point for ameliorating – complex, intractable issues in science, technology and medicine. The Rhetoric emphasis in the Department of English, and the Science and Technology Studies specialization, are programs that together support and mobilize my language-based, humanities approach to various critical issues that matter to me – whether I’m examining issues related to the Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits program, or studying issues around collaboration practices among neglected disease researchers.
What Do You See as Your Biggest Challenge(s) in Your Future Career?
There are deep divisions that separate humanities and social sciences disciplines from scientific, technological, and medical disciplines, and that separate academic work from social or political action. These divisions are constructs, but they are constantly reified – in language, and in institutional structuring, for example. For this reason, they can be hard to overcome. Thus, in addition to addressing the complex challenges that I call my main subjects/objects of study, it will remain a parallel challenge for me to bridge these divisions – to do interdisciplinary work that engages with people and practices from different disciplines, and to do work that leads to meaningful doings.