Each fall semester the College and its partners offers an array of events and activities designed to show different perspectives on the theme. Coinciding with 2020 presidential election season and the commemoration of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1920, this fall's themester focuses on democracy.
HPSC is taking the theme of democracy and looking at it through a scientific lens and offering events that will speak on the following. Science is a social practice in at least two senses: it is done by a scientific community and takes place within a larger society. Both science and society are plural, complex and dynamic worlds and involve sets of values that define and guide their members’ diverse activities and choices. The talks in the proposed speaker series will explore the relations between the two sets of values today and in the past. Does science benefit the most from operating within democratic societies? Do citizens? Does science enhance the democratic quality of society at large? Are scientific values such as objectivity, transparency, anti-dogmatism and freedom from prejudice informed by democratic standards? Are the production, evaluation and dissemination of scientific results informed by democratic standards? Who gets to decide on scientific matters such as publication, employment or funding? Who gets to benefit from science or learn about it?
By what or whose standards? When are ignorance or mistrust of science acceptable? How can we reconcile the distinctive role played by science experts in society or even within scientific institutions with democratic principles and practices? The speaker series will explore these and related questions about science in democratic societies and about democracy in scientific communities.