Professor James Evans (Sociology) traces several ways in which social connection between scholars, scientists and citizens limits what a population can collectively imagine and know. This includes how dense networks and networked conversations drive collective certainty in the grant and publication review process, decrease the truth value of biomedical experiments, shrink the search space of science and technology, and so limit the size of future imagination and understanding. Evans then explores how the systems of science, technology and society generate productive social disconnection to accelerate advance through maintaining crossable boundaries between disciplines, ideologies, and the ways in which recombination come to surprise and receive disproportionate attention. Evans demonstrates the importance of social boundaries for the disconnection they induce and the transgressions they invite, which point to processes of collective abduction or surprise as a primary mechanism of new understandings.
The Comparing Practices of Knowledge Workshop launched in the 2016-17 academic year. Presentations range across historical and disciplinary boundaries and provide a major component of SIFK's inquiry into the process of knowledge formation and transmittal from antiquity to present day. Research-in-progress is welcomed and will receive constructive feedback. This workshop will take the format of a 40-minute presentation, followed by a 20 minute discussion and Q+A. Lunch will be provided to those who RSVP.