I’m passing on information about a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation for graduate students. The program, organized by the University of Montana Center for Ethics, is called Debating Science 2008, and here’s how it’s described on the announcement:
We are looking for graduate students who are inspired by their own research, but who are also interested in exploring the social, political, and philosophical context of that work, and who are committed to sharing science with nonscientists, in a genuine hope for a better world…
To solve the toughest problems of the modern world we need to bring together people with all kinds of training and experience. It is clear, however, that experts, the public, and the policy-makers find it harder and harder to communicate effectively due to intellectual specialization. Debating Science seeks to remedy this by teaching us all the skills of cooperative deliberation over issues in science and technology, by sharing ideas and knowledge among scientists, philosophers, and humanists.
This year, we will explore the ethical, scientific, and social dimensions of global climate change, biotechnology, and nanotechnology with an intensive summer workshop in Missoula, Montana and a semester-long online deliberation course in each of the three topic areas. The course is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and will cover the majority of the participants’ travel board, and lodging costs for the workshop.
Starving grad students take note of that last sentence — NSF will be subsidizing the travel, housing, and meals for the 30+ participants in the workshop.
From the details posted about Debating Science 2007, it looks like many but not all of the graduate students who participated in last year’s workshop were in scientific fields. It also looks like those workshop participants found the experience to be really engaging and productive.
This year’s workshop is scheduled to run from August 4 to August 8, 2008, and there is an online course that follows from August through December. They will be accepting applications until April 2, 2008.
If you have an interest in thinking of how science and technology fit into our larger world, or in improving communication between scientists and non-scientists, this looks like a great opportunity.