STS Seminar Series explores the psychological contributions to science and technology studies, Sept. 24

Kieran O'Doherty

The second event in this year’s Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies (STS) takes place on Sept. 24 and features guest speaker Kieran O’Doherty, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph.

Now in its 26th year, the series has hosted hundreds experts from across Canada and around the world presenting on a wide range of STS-related topics. The talks are free and open to the public, and STS majors are especially encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be provided.

The Sept. 24 seminar, titled “Psychological Contributions to Science and Technology Studies,” will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 203 Bethune College (Norman’s).

Kieran O'Doherty
Kieran O’Doherty

Science and technology are central to almost all domains of human activity. As a result, they are the focus of subdisciplines such as the philosophy of science, the philosophy of technology, the sociology of knowledge, and the history of science and technology. Further, multidisciplinary programs such as science and technology studies focus on a systematic investigation of the dynamic relationships between science, technology and human life. Many contributions to STS question mechanistic and universalistic scientific visions and instead argue for a socially and culturally situated conception of the production of scientific knowledge and technological artifacts.

To date, psychology has been marginal in this space, and the contributions that have come from psychology have tended to come from relatively narrow epistemological orientations. O’Doherty argues that it is because of mainstream psychology’s adherence to a vision of itself as a science modelled on the natural sciences – universal, objective, guided by a view of humans as a collection of variables to be measured – that it has failed to engage meaningfully with STS.

To counter this trend, O’Doherty and his colleagues recently collected contributions on the study of science and technology specifically from psychologists working from perspectives that are aligned with STS. The resulting book, Psychological Studies of Science and Technology, was published this year by Palgrave-Macmillan. Contributors’ orientations include theoretical psychology, critical psychology, feminist psychology, queer psychology, history of psychology and qualitative psychology, among others.

In this talk, O’Doherty will reflect on the position of psychology in relation to STS and argue that a pluralistic vision of psychology has much to offer.

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

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”

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).

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