Unbounding STS

BREEDING HOPE IN THE ACADEMIA

After decades of uncritical rhetoric about the triad science-innovation-economic growth, in which science only appeared in its role of “the engine of innovation and development”, the current neoliberal economic and social crisis has served as a breeding ground for the emergence of worrying diagnoses on the future. The academic community is suffering the effects of the recent twist of science policy, which now insists on dramatic financial cuts, which are having remarkable implications for the organizational and epistemic realm of practices. In fact, social sciences are being especially marginalisedand this is affecting the career prospects of young scholars, especially in Southern and Eastern Europe. In this general context we should reflect not only on the role that academics can and should play in the face of disillusion and despair, but also on their responsibility about the articulation of possible solutions between the present and possible futures.

In this space, which is personal and academic at the same time, I am eager to launch a debate about the importance of pushing our work, as STS scholars, beyond the elaboration of pessimistic diagnostics in order to set aside the rhetoric of a passive hope and enable the conditions to imagine different futures. New trends such as “open science”, impure methods of scientific production, or the different modes of activism within science, are examples of alternative ways to generate spaces of hope (and science) at the intersection between the academy, science and society. It is time to think about our responsibility with respect to the development of images of the future, to examine our disciplines and the relationship between the academy and society, and to explore the sources from which we can get inspiration to articulate that responsibility.

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