A new chapter begins in my life as I assume the role of president elect of EASST, becoming the new president when Ulrike Felt steps down in a year. I want to thank Ulrike for suggesting that I run for office – and also for her tireless work on behalf of EASST. She is a very tough act to follow. And I am grateful to all of you who put your trust in me. While there was no other candidate :), you have still chosen to vote for me – rather than against. Let me formulate a few words of what you can expect from my presidency.
Over the years STS has developed into a community of concerned academic citizens with a plethora of interesting tales to tell. Some of us have disciplinary homes within STS departments, educational programmes and groups. Many others are living our academic lives in diverse constellations, where we might feel like visitors and sometimes even intruders. EASST serves a crucial role as a home for us all and a place where we can talk together in our shared languages about issues that concern us. Such a disciplinary home away from home is important – now more than ever as changing career structures and evaluation practices might threaten to marginalize our scholarly activities.
As a professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), I myself experience contradictory influences. On the one hand, a professorship is a rather secure academic position with a lot of autonomy and I cherish this privileged position. On the other hand, DTU does not provide a disciplinary programme or department in STS. What I and my colleagues have to do is to translate our knowledge and make it associable with DTU’s core activities. I enjoy this process, but it also adds to the importance of having a scholarly home in STS elsewhere. In this regard, EASST is crucial.
I believe STS knowledge and methodologies can make crucial contributions to all of the most fundamental societal crises that we currently face. To do this, we need to make our voice heard outside of our own journals, conferences and academic circles. STS was founded on interdisciplinary research and most of us are very familiar with disciplinary boundary-spanning. However, I believe we can do more to be heard outside of academia and to have greater impact in policy formulation, public discussion, social and industrial innovation and general public engagement with science and technology. We need to raise awareness of our field and its knowledge contribution. Mostly because we have important contributions to make to social and public solution making. But also because we want our field to flourish and grow.
As president, I will continue the excellent work of the previous president and Council to 1) strengthen the public voices of STS in matters of concern, 2) create more opportunities and venues for us to support each other as a community (to learn, to engage and to have fun), and 3) to diversify further the membership of our society and facilitate inclusive networking. In particular, I would like to initiate a discussion of our meeting structure, as I believe that the time has come for us to consider having an annual meeting of EASST. Sure, it will be more work. However, I think we have all learned from this last year’s experience that we need to gather physically to enjoy good company and stimulating discussions. We also have to provide a place for junior scholars to be integrated into the wider academic community. Finally, in the face of the climate crisis we might appreciate using trains instead of intercontinental flights to achieve our scholarly and collegial fix.
Another ambition of mine is to strengthen the collaboration with national and regional STS organisations in order to form a strong European network of STSers. Some countries in Europe have well-established associations and a strong trajectory of STS research. Other countries less so. Let us discuss how we can better support each other’s activities.
EASST is a shared resource for all. I am eager to hear from members how you would like to see EASST develop and what kinds of support you need the most. After all, you are EASST. I look forward to working with all of you.