Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

PhD course: Exploring and performing experiments

June 18 - June 20

Apply here no later than April 26, 2019, 12:00pm

Course description:

This Ph.D. course will be questioning the concept and practices of experiments in research, but also broadly in relation to design, organizational and artistic practices. The course invites participants who do research on experimental practices, conduct experiments as part of their research, or see their project as somehow related to experimental practices.

The overall aim of the course is to introduce ideas and strategies that can help the participants conceptualize and discuss how experimentation is part of their research and help them do their research and present it to peers and other relevant parties. The course will mainly draw on research from the field of Science, Technology and Society studies (STS), but prior acquaintance with STS is not a requirement.

In the philosophy of science, the experiment is traditionally considered a method by which to test hypotheses about a given object in a controlled, secluded environment. Since Francis Bacon the experimental method has been the example par excellence for reliable empirical science: Nature must be interpreted through the senses and aided by experiments ‘fit and apposite’ (Harré 1981; Shapin 2017; Gooding, Pinch, and Schaffer 1989; Latour 1992). During the scientific revolution experiments and the laboratory came to be seen as particular situations in which a phenomenon could be isolated, manipulated and observed. The experiment became a site of purification allowing for detailed scrutiny and description that paved the way for a specific scientific perception of reality. Over the years experiments and the laboratory has come to play a central role in the reproducibility and circulation of knowledge, through notions of replication: given identical instrumental set-ups and procedures, experiments can be repeated and lead to identical findings, thus corroborating or validating facts of nature.

Since the 1970’ a performative turn has emerged, away from abstract philosophical and theoretical characteristics of experiments towards practical or pragmatic understandings. Scientific experiments can be grasped through a number of themes: e.g. instrumentations, experiments in written arguments, representations of phenomena, experimentalists versus theorists. Practice philosophical and STS studies have shown that experiments are sites of hard work, contingency and messiness (Latour and Woolgar 1986; Hacking 1983; Pickering 1999; Cetina 1999). They are sites in which ‘worlds are raised’, i.e. the knowledge produced through experiments have consequences beyond the confines of the lab. The knowledge producing capacities of experiments have multiple consequences for society and for everyday human and non-humans living, but experiments are also themselves products of political, social, economic and cultural factors. Furthermore, experiments are events in which ‘dialectics of resistances and accommodation’ occur (Pickering 1995). Experiments are thus incidents where things might explode and mishaps happen, objects resist and escape scrutiny or simply be available as docile objects that lend themselves to immediate interrogation and ‘discovery’. Following this, experiments can be viewed as sites of violence, in which objects of all sorts (things, humans, animals, plants etc.) are molested, amputated and reduced ‘in the name of science’. A violence and objectification that is not only a reduction of the objects of study, but also consequential for the knowledge produced, which may lead to ignorance rather than insight (Stengers 1997; Despret 2006; Strum and Fedigan 2000; Kleinman and Suryanarayanan 2012)

For numerous reasons, the experiment is no longer confined to the laboratory, but seems to pervade multiple places (Latour 1987; Pickering and Guzik 2008; Pickering 2016). Experiments are part of design practices and organizations at large. Also in organizational studies the experimental organization has become a well-accepted organizational form. Design processes that emphasize mutual engagement between human actors and their materials are inherently experimental. One could argue that the experiment is pervasive today because of a societal concern with agility and continuous adaptation coupled with a concern for making well informed ‘evidence-based’ decisions and the avoidance of haphazard actions.

Lastly, experimental practices are embodied situated practices in which we and our conceptual and intellectual ‘tools’ are entangled in complex, dynamic arrangements. When doing research, we are enmeshed in practices of ‘testing’ and experimenting with our concepts, our interpretations and various combinations of concepts, empirical material and interpretations. Experimentation is the continuous unavoidable practice of being in a world that is never stable and continuous to escape our control in whatever form we attempt to apply it.

Aim:

The overall aim of the course is to introduce ideas and strategies that can help the participants conceptualize and discuss how experimentation is part of their research and help them do their research and present it to peers and other relevant parties. The course will mainly draw on research from the field of Science, Technology and Society studies (STS), but prior acquaintance with STS is not a requirement.

Literature:

Will be announced later, but it will mainly be related to the STS research field

Target group:

The course will be relevant to all stages of the Ph.D.

Language:

English

Form:

The course will consist in lectures, discussions, group  work and peer feedback, supervision, writing sessions and student presentations.

ECTS:

3

Lecturers:

Professor Emeritus Andy Pickering, Exeter University

Associate Professor Peter Danholt and course organizer, Aarhus University

Associate Professor and course organizer Finn Olesen, Aarhus University

Dates and time:

June 18-20, 2019, all-day course

Venue:

IT Campus, Aarhus University, Finlandsgade 21, 8200 Aarhus N

building 5335, room 091

Application deadline:

Please apply for a spot via https://events.au.dk/exploringperformingexperimentsF2019 no later than April 26, 2019, 12:00pm

When applying, you are requested to upload one PDF file containing the following:

1)    A brief description of the PhD project (max. 1 page – not the full project description!).

2)    A brief motivation (max. 1 page) in which it is explained how experimental practices are part of the research project.

Participants will be notified about acceptance to the course May 3, 2019.

Deadline for paper submission:

On June 4. 2019 all participants shall submit a 3-5 pages long paper in which they review and discuss central understandings and concepts from the mandatory reading list (send out in the beginning of May), which are relevant to their specific project. These papers will be circulated to all participants and be subject for group work, feed-back and discussion at the course.

Details

Start:
June 18
End:
June 20