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Report on 2012 Workshop

APSTSN Workshop, 9 February 2012, part of the Inaugural Asia-Pacific Science Policy Studies Research Conference; Tahua Nuku, Tahua Rangi, Wellington

Author: Richard Hindmarsh (APSTSN convenor 2010-2012)

Acknowledgements: The APSTSN is grateful to the funding provided by the 4S New Initiatives program in support of this workshop, and the report’s author is grateful to Nicola Marks for helping organise and facilitate the workshop and contributing to data analysis and the writing of this report.

Introduction

Thirty-five participants attended, who were organised into six breakout groups to consider the following questions:

  1. What visions can we suggest for the APSTSN for the next five years?
  2. How best can we build research capacity? (e.g. how might we facilitate
    collaborations and what form of collaborations?)
  3. What particular areas of divergence (e.g. in theoretical approaches or empirical
    focus) exist in the region and how might they contribute to building research capacity?

After considerable discussion, the breakout groups then reported their views back to the plenary; the responses were recorded and from that our analysis reports the following findings:

Findings

First, it should be noted the participants, who demonstrated a good diversity across the region, demonstrated strong support for the APSTSN, and wanted to see it further develop.

The Key Themes that emerged in response to the discussion were as such:

Post-graduate and other student support
This area was considered essential in providing continuation and development of the Network and STS field. Recommendations included:

  1.  That core support needs to continue and potentially increase for PhD and other students through
    mentoring and funding support to attend conferences.
  2. A youth leadership network was also suggested as well as a young indigenous panel.

Communications/networking enhancement

This area was prioritised as many STS scholars suffer isolation in their work, with STS being across diverse areas of interest, enhanced by the large regional scale of the APSTSN, and would welcome the ability to talk to other scholars about theory. In addition, the importance of maintaining good relationships with STS scholars in general and other STS networks around the region and internationally was highlighted. Recommendations included:

  • That existing forms of communication, such as the newsletter, communiques, notices to other STS
    organisations, convenor profiling and contacts, need to be further developed to provide enhanced
    opportunities for the Network to build good working relationships and develop further.
  • In association, new/other forms of APSTSN communication needed to be developed, e.g. existing social
    media and networks such as LinkedIn and academia.edu.

Facilitating collaboration
Recommendations:

  • That the APSTSN has a role through facilitating collaboration amongst its members
    and with others in translating and facilitating mutual learning amongst the many STS
    fields and approaches in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • That the APSTSN has a role through facilitating collaboration amongst its members
    and with others in challenging exisitng hierarchical (and colonial) structures that exclude some
    people (e.g. a focus on English, the dominance on conference presentations in general rather than
    story-telling). Particular dichotomies/hierarchies to be challenged through collaboration included:
  • Indigenous vs. scientific knowledge and epistemologies
    STS theories vs. (policy) practice
    Communities vs. scientists

Regional representation
It was recommended that a new push for Pacific members was needed, in following the efforts of the past
convenor and SC which had seen many efforts made, but which had not been productive simply because it
was difficult to identify Pacific STS scholars.

Topic of research
While a strong environmental and Indigenous focus was noted, and conferences focused on the broad
gamut of STS, other areas of STS scholarship should be encouraged to develop more by the APSTSN
alongside its strong areas. Diversity need to be celebrated and promoted so that all fields were
given good attention.

The workshop ended with an open forum in which the following points were discussed:

  • The newsletter, on the suggestion of then Convenor Richard Hindmarsh, should be moved from an assumed
    responsibly of the Convenor to to some appointment of an editor/s, or editorial collective. The forum
    agreed that a call should be issued to the Network.
  • Because the APSTSN is currently a non-fee network, it was considered it needed to develop more ways
    to be clever about how it access money/support. For instance, it was suggested that many countries
    (e.g. Singapore) are ideally placed geographically to take advantage of visiting scholar stop-overs –
    they could be invited to give talks en-route (in fact the NUS environment group had already issued
    invitations, and thus the NUS STS group might be more facilities of this. In addition, more advance
    notice of events could allow opportunities for cross-funding to be invited by government agencies.
  • The open discussion also focussed on the tendencies of conferences to use English, making it more
    difficult for scholars with different first languages to participate fully. It was suggested that
    avenues for interpreters be considered in future to address this.
  • Two final questions were raised: 1. How do we move forward now? 2. What practical things should the network focus on?
    In responding to this the outgoing Convenor suggested this was a matter for the new Convenor and Steering Committee 2012-14 to respond to, either itself first and then invite the Network to respond and provide ideas or vice versa.

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