Prominent sociologist to visit UNT for series of lectures on science, technology and society

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What: Three lectures at the University of North Texas by Dr. Steve Fuller, professor of sociology at the University of Warwick, England.

When: "Transformative Research: Easy to Fund, Hard to Institutionalize. Why?" from 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 (Tuesday)

"What Would Lincoln and Darwin Make of Today's Science and Politics?" from 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 (Wednesday)

"Why Intelligent Design is Worth Fighting For" from 5-6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 (Thursday)

Where: Tuesday's lecture will be in Room 130 and Thursday's in Room 110 of the Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building, which is located on the northwest corner of Avenue C and West Mulberry Street, UNT campus.  Wednesday's lecture will take place in the Gateway Center,

Cost: Free

Contact: Britt Holbrook in the UNT Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies, britt.holbrook@unt.edu.

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Dr. Steve Fuller, professor of sociology at the University of Warwick in England and a philosopher-sociologist in the field of science and technology studies, will give three free lectures at the University of North Texas Sept. 16-18 (Tuesday-Thursday).

Fuller's lectures will all take place in Room 130 of UNT's Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building, which is located on the northwest corner of Avenue C and West Mulberry Street. "Transformative Research: Easy to Fund, Hard to Institutionalize. Why?" is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 (Tuesday), while "What Would Lincoln and Darwin Make of Today's Science and Politics?" is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 (Wednesday). The final lecture, "Why Intelligent Design is Worth Fighting For," will be from 5-6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 (Thursday).

Fuller's visit to UNT is being sponsored by the planned Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity. When it receives final approval, the center will be the first university center in the nation dedicated to developing the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity -- a term used in academic circles to describe researchers or teachers from two or more disciplines pooling and modifying their approaches to solving a problem. The center will offer faculty members at UNT and other universities a resource for implementing interdisciplinary research and designing interdisciplinary courses.

Other sponsors for Fuller's lectures are the Texas Center for Digital Knowledge, the UNT Departments of Political Science and Philosophy and Religion Studies and the UNT chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society.

Fuller is a well-known researcher in social epistemology, which addresses philosophical problems of knowledge using the tools of history and the social sciences. He is the author of "Social Epistemology," which focuses on the methods by which knowledge is organized. Fuller also founded the first journal devoted to the topic, and has promoted social epistemology as an interdisciplinary project in his seven books, including "Dissent over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism," and "Science vs. Religion?"

In 2005, he served as an expert witness for the defense in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which was the first direct challenge brought in U.S. federal courts against a public school district that required the presentation of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in teaching students the origin of life. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the plaintiffs -- parents of students enrolled in the district -- that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy thus violated the Established Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Fuller's recent work focuses on public intellectual expression, which he interprets as a natural outgrowth of his version of social epistemology. A supporter of the United Kingdom group Academics for Academic Freedom, Fuller believes that academic freedom includes the right for academics to be offensive in their speech as long as the offense is done within the terms of reason that is appropriate to the academic profession, and that academics should be free to express their intellectual opinions and to open them up to others for further debate.

The current president of the Sociology and Social Policy section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Fuller received his bachelor's degree in history and sociology from Columbia University, master's degree in history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University, and doctoral degree in history and philosophy of science from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2007, he was awarded a higher doctoral degree from the University of Warwick for long-term major contributions to scholarship. 

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