Critical angles 2

November 5, 2004

In his otherwise admirable call for science students to be taught about the larger moral and social contexts of their work, Richard Hoggart mistakenly assumes the biggest obstacle comes from scientists who refuse to make space in the curriculum for this.

In fact, his proposal was implemented shortly after Harold Wilson took power in 1964 and led to the establishment of "science studies" at Manchester, Sussex and, most notably, Edinburgh universities. However, the teachers in these programmes had grander designs for their subject, the result of which is the research-led specialist field of science studies we find today that has little to do with training scientists.

Back then, as now, there was little appeal or incentive to devote one's efforts to what, from the instructor's standpoint, looked like remedial education. If Hoggart wants to see his idea implemented, he needs to call for a fundamental change in the reward structure of academia.

Steve Fuller
Professor of sociology
Warwick University

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