Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies returns with a talk on epidemic projections

Doctor holding vaccines

The start of the academic year brings with it an interesting new lineup of speakers who will be headlining the Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies (STS). Now in its 26th year, the series has hosted hundreds experts from Canada and around the world presenting on a wide range of STS-related topics.

Unless otherwise specified, all seminars in this series will take place on Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 203 Bethune College (Norman’s). They are free and open to the public, and STS majors are especially encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

Adia Benton
Adia Benton

This year’s series kicks off on Sept. 10 with Adia Benton, a professor in Northwestern University’s Department of Anthropology, presenting a talk titled “Epidemic Projections and the Politics of Reckoning.”

Within the field of public health, describing and proving causality and correlation undergird strategies for minimizing and mitigating health risks. Risk calculations draw on past experiences with danger, and form the bases for anticipating and planning for future crises. Within the subfield of modelling, the recursive relationship between past and future embodied in epidemiologic projections and forecasts are central to explaining misfortune. In this
talk, Benton asks: What kinds of assumptions about people and places, about time and about danger underlie these projections? What are the stakes of using these models not only to predict disease dynamics and speculate about effective interventions, but also to
monetize them for the purposes of generating profit for private investors and delivering financial assistance to cash-strapped governments in the midst of an epidemic?

Here’s a look at the rest of the Fall 2019 lineup:

Sept. 24: Kieran O’Doherty (University of Guelph), “Psychological Contributions to Science & Technology Studies”

Oct. 8: Kean Birch (York University), “Automated Neoliberalism”

Oct. 22: Zbigniew Stachniak (York University), “The IBM Images Archive”

Nov. 5: Kelly Bronson (University of Ottawa), “Data-driven: Agribusiness, Activists and Their Shared Politics of the Future”

Nov. 19: Kate Henne (University of Waterloo), “Grey Matters: Imagining Traumatic Brain Injury Through the Lens of Sex Difference”

Dec. 3: John McLevey (University of Waterloo), “Democracies in Crisis? Online Deception, Disinformation and Political Polarization in Comparative Perspective”

Further details will appear in YFile prior to each talk, and the lineup for Winter 2019 will be released at a later date. This series is sponsored by York University’s Department of Science & Technology Studies, Faculty of Science, and co-ordinated by members of the department. For more information about the Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies, contact Professor Conor Douglas at or visit