Recent Events

Spring 2017

Tuesday April 4, 2017
Beyond the Conservatism of Emoji

Luke Stark (Dartmouth College)
CHAT seminar room, 48 Professors Row | 4:30pm
Sponsors: STS, Anthropology, Film & Media Studies, and Sociology
Abstract: Emoticons, emoji, Facebook stickers, animated GIFs of adorable cats: we use them all to express our social and emotional selves daily, with barely a second thought. But what if these seemingly banal digital objects tell a global story of toil, loss, revolt, and world domination, one that’s still unfolding as you type? Rooted in the rise of the "smiley" face in the second half of the 20th century, the emoji as a cultural form emerged out of corporate strategies, copyright claims, and standards disputes. Seemingly trivial, file formats for emotional expression like emoji and animated GIFs represent the creative power of affective labor and the limits of a digital life in the thrall of market logic. In this talk, Luke Stark will explore the history of emoticons, emoji, and animated GIFs; how their uses have evolved as a microcosm of the history of social media; and how these formats represent emotional data of enormous interest to businesses in the digital economy. Plus he’ll unspool tales of duelling fonts, plucky GIF artists and an all-emoji version of the greatest American novel ever written - all while sticking (almost) to 140 characters or less.

Friday, March 17, 2017
STS Student Lunch Series: Intersections of Science and Public Policy

Crane Room, Paige Hall | 12pm
Hosted by CoSA, the Collective of STEM Activists
Sponsor: STS
Come join the Community of STEM Activists (CoSA) for lunch and learn about how public policy and science can intersect! Our guests this month are Professor and activist Moon Duchin, who uses math to advocate for voting rights, and Tufts alum Charlotte Harrison, who works in clinical research on psychedelic drugs. Lunch provided!

CoSA is a project to unite students in STEM who care about the influence of our fields on culture and society through conversation, education, and action.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
From One Drop to One Percent: The Impact of DNA Ancestry Tests on the Worldview of White Supremacists

Joan Donovan (UCLA)
Alumnae Lounge | 4:30pm
Sponsors: STS, Anthropology, Center for Study of Race and Democracy, and WGSS
Abstract: Advances in population genetics and the direct-to-consumer marketing of DNA ancestry tests are challenging how groups fashion and maintain their identities. Most commonly, researchers focus on how Native Americans and African Americans' identities are co-constructed through these new scientific narratives of history and human evolution. Until now though, few have looked at how white people use these tests to generate a sense of belonging to a group. As well, no one has taken on this controversial question: How do white supremacists understand and mobilize around this new genetic science?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
STS Majors Week Event: Black Mirror

Olin 011 | 6pm
Learn about the STS program at this episode screening and discussion of the British sci-fi anthology series "Black Mirror" hosted by professors Jess Keiser (English), Moon Duchin (Math), and Alisha Rankin (History). Food provided.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Life Changing Bacon: Transgression as Desire in Contemporary American Taste

CHAT seminar room, 48 Professors Row | 5:00pm
Speaker: Brad Weiss (The College of William and Mary)
Anthropologist Brad Weiss discusses his book "Real Pigs: Shifting Values in the Field of Local Pork" (2016, Duke University Press) about the politics of pigs and pork production in the North Carolina Piedmont
Sponsors: Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, STS

Friday, February 17, 2017
STS Student Lunch Series

Crane Room, Paige Hall | 12:00pm
This semester's STS student lunches are hosted by CoSA, the Collective of STEM Activistst
Are you curious about how society is shaped by science and technology? Come to CoSA’s first event to explore how technology affects our politics and culture. We hope to provide a welcoming space for people in STEM to critically look at the fields we work in. CoSA is a project to unite students through conversation, education, and action.
All are welcome! Lunch will be provided. Sponsors: STS, CoSA

Fall 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
STS Student Lunch Series
Miner Hall, Room 221 | 12:00pm
Take a study break and join us for food and conversation.
Lunch will be provided.
All are welcome!
Sponsors: STS

Friday, November 18, 2016
STS Student Lunch Series: Data Tour
The DataLab, Tisch Library, Room 203 | 12:00pm
Join us for a tour of the new Tufts Data Lab with Josh Quan (Social Sciences Data Librarian) and Carolyn Talmadge (GIS Specialist). We'll explore resources for data-rich projects and coursework and answer your questions about the STS program and GIS
Sponsors: STS

Friday, September 30, 2016
The Social Role of Mathematical Proofs
206 Eaton Hall | 4:00pm
Reception to follow in Miner Hall
Speaker: Kenny Easwaran (Philosophy, Texas A&M)
Respondents: Jody Azzouni (Philosophy, Tufts) and Moon Duchin (Math, Tufts)
Abstract: Much of mathematics proceeds by means of proof, but what makes proofs different from other forms of verification or communication? What is the role of proofs in spreading mathematical knowledge? Does the success of a proof depend on trusting the author? What would it take to conclusively defeat a proof?
The talk is at 4pm in Eaton 206 and will be aimed at a level suitable to students without much background assumed in math or philosophy.
Sponsors: STS, Philosophy, Math

Spring 2016

Creative Careers: Fusing Art and Science
574 Boston Ave, Room 401, 12-2pm (lunch provided)
Dean Nancy Bauer moderates a conversation with six panelists who represent a range of careers at the interface of the arts with science and technology. Do you ever wonder if there are jobs out there that value both artistic and scientific thinking? Do you wonder how to maintain your passion for learning and your artistic creativity if you have a desk job? Join the conversation!
Held Friday, May 6, 2016
Sponsors: Student Life Fund, STS

Environmental Studies "Lunch & Learn": The Social Lives of Computer Models in Forestry Research
Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center, 12:00pm
Speaker: Tom Özden-Schilling (Tufts/MIT)
Abstract: What can a long-simmering technical dispute between two groups of tree growth modelers tell us about the relationship between expertise and environmental governance in the twenty-first century? Drawing on over a year of ethnographic work, this talk will explore how the professional goals and social attachments of different forestry scientists have shaped the kinds of stories that computer simulations tell about the future of forests – and of forestry science – in British Columbia.
Held Thursday, April 21, 2016
Sponsors: Environmental Studies
Learn more >

Canonical Forms: The mathematical structure of musical canons
Speaker: Noam Elkies (Harvard)
Abstract: To write a musical canon—be it "Three Blind Mice" or the climax of a Bach fugue—one constructs a melody that can act as its own harmony. Thinking about this task leads us to look at musical structure from points of view usually associated with science and mathematics, not the arts. The lecture will be illustrated with diagrams as well as musical examples from various eras and genres (including at least one improvised on the spot), and will require no technical background in either music or mathematics
Held Thursday, April 7, 2016
Sponsors: Mathematics, Music

Escaping Melodramas: How do we think about the infamous studies in Tuskegee and Guatemala?
Speaker: Susan Reverby (Wellesley)
Abstract: The infamous "Tuskegee study" was a four-decades-long (1932-72) project of the U.S. Public Health Service in which African American men were deceived into believing they were being treated for syphilis, while in fact they were only being monitored. In the course of researching Tuskegee, Susan Reverby found unpublished papers from another U.S. government study, this time conducted in Guatemala (1946-48), in which scientists actually infected men and women with sexually transmitted diseases in a prison, an army barracks, and a mental hospital. What are the opportunities and responsibilities for scholarly work on such deeply problematic historical events?
Held Monday April 4, 2016
Sponsors: Sociology, Community Health, STS

Utopian Listening: The Late Electroacoustic Music of Luigi Nono
Utopian Listening will bring together scholars, sound engineers, composers, and musicians to engage with the practical and aesthetic challenges of performing Luigi Nono's works with live electronics, considered within their historical and political contexts as well as their contemporary ramifications and potentialities. Held on Tufts Campus, March 23-26, 2016. Sponsors: Music (Tufts and Harvard)
Learn more >

Hearing Heat: Acoustemology meets the Anthropocene
Steve Feld (Anthropology, University of New Mexico)
Held March 14, 2016. Sponsors: Anthropology
Learn more >

Imagined Futures: Exploring how speculation about the future shapes what actually comes to pass
Imagining the future, and convincing people it's a future they want, is a great way have that future vision guide people's current actions. Come see how it's being done by scholars and professionals who study speculative fiction, synthetic biology, microbiology, popular culture, technology, and security. Moderated by Sam Weiss Evans (STS, Tufts/Harvard).
Held March 7, 2016. Sponsors: STS

Microphone as Prosthesis, Instrument, and Technology, 1830-1930
Carolyn Abbate (Music, Harvard)
Opera scholar Carolyn Abbate takes a close look at a taken-for-granted technology.
Held February 29, 2016. Sponsors: Music, STS

Known Unknowns? Zika: Science, Politics, and Policy-making
Rosemary Taylor (Sociology & Community Health, Tufts)
Information about Zika, its transmission, and its effects is changing on a daily basis. What do we know? What don't we know? What should be done in the face of uncertain scientific information?
Held February 17, 2016. Sponsors: Sociology
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Averroes on Infinite and Subjective Time
Taneli Kukkonen (Philosophy, NYU-Abu Dhabi)
The 12th-century Islamic scholar Ibn Rushd (latinized as Averroes) worked on metaphysics and many other areas spanning philosophy, science, and theology. Here, the focus is on his writings about the nature of time.
Held February 12, 2016. Sponsors: Philosophy, Classics

Lunch discussion: The modern history of microbes
A discussion with Funke Sangodeyi (ReD Associates) and Ben Wolfe (Biology, Tufts), moderated by Moon Duchin (Mathematics, Tufts). How do people perceive something they (generally) cannot see but know can have major impacts on their lives? When did we start talking about "good germs"? With the rise of probiotics for both humans and agriculture, what is at stake in influencing public perceptions of microbes?
Held February 4, 2016. Sponsors: STS, Biology

Black gay men under the corporate anthropological lens: The business of HIV and the politics of health
Funke Sangodeyi (ReD Associates)
A critical look at an anthropological study commissioned by Big Pharma on the lives and healthcare ecologies of "black men who have sex with men" against the backdrop of skyrocketing HIV rates in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi. Sangodeyi asks how the setting — corporate, academic, activist, etc — shapes and informs a social inquiry.
Held February 4, 2016. Sponsors: STS, Anthropology, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Community Health, LGBT Center, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Weekend of Making
A series of hands-on workshops and activities in two of Tufts' makerspaces: the new Make Studio at 574 Boston Ave. and the Crafts Center in Lewis Hall. Held January 30-31, 2016. Sponsors: MAKE, Robotics, Entrepreneurs, Crafts, Human Factors
Learn more >

Fall 2015

Causes and predictions in epidemiology
Alex Broadbent (Philosophy, University of Johannesburg)
Epidemiological examples, such as the history of views about the link between smoking and cancer, are used to study attribution and prediction in science. How can data be interpreted in terms of causality?
Held October 9, 2015. Sponsors: Philosophy, STS